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Cheap Shot Tuesday
2006-02-07 05:06
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Okay, since there isn't much news a-shakin', how about taking pot shots at Murray Chass' examination of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball." Chass, the highly respected columnist for the New York Times has been a frequent target of criticism on this blog over the past several seasons. This one should be fun for practically everyone.

Comments
2006-02-07 05:34:57
1.   Ben
I can't really comment on DePodesta or Ricciardi specifically, but Chass just seems to get everything else wrong. He clearly has an agenda and uses only the facts that are supportive. Oakland hasn't made the playoffs because Howe left? Not Giambi, Tejada, Hudson and Mulder? Okay, fine.

I don't get how people miss the jist of moneyball. It's an economic strategy, not a philosophy. I guess it's the portrayal of Beane as a greater than GM that rubs people wrong. Oh well. Chass is missing the interest of the story by taking a moral stand that Beane is wrong.

In fact the A's were successful for the same reason the Yankees were successful: a talented group of home grown talent came of age together on the field. Where the Yanks could sign David Cone, or David Justice to fill the blanks, the A's had to be more resourceful, who was it, Damon, Dye, Izzy, Dotel. Right now, the A's are in a better position to regain that formula than the Yankees are. Maybe not this year, but Beane has gotten them younger again, and in five years we will know if his strategy is sound, or he was just lucky.

As for Howe, I like the guy and he was an important part of that team. Difference maker? I just don't see it.

2006-02-07 05:46:27
2.   I am Ralph
Oh, Murray, you've pooped on the gods of the stat weiners.

You are in for weeks of shite about win shares, VORP, and market value.

Can you stand it, man? Can you stand it?

2006-02-07 05:50:15
3.   Sliced Bread
The Chassticle's latest offering should have been titled "When 'Murrayball' No Longer Pays Off."

Good premise: analyze "Moneyball" 3 years later.

Execution: Uh, I learned a bit about Art Howe.

The piece seemed to end on a cheap shot aimed at the Blue Jays, who have greatly improved with their increased spending.

Murray's difficult to track these days. It's hard to tell when he's firing a cheap shot, unless he's aiming at the Yankees, or shilling on behalf of his corporate cousins on Yawkey Way.

2006-02-07 05:54:26
4.   tommyl
What always amazes me about people like Chass is their fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. Lewis (and Beane) have never claimed that every single pick Beane makes is destined to be a great player, but on average picking the way Beane does seems to work. It also worked for the Yankees in the 90s when Michael rebuilt the team based on OBP.

Using anecdotal examples like Chass is using is exactly what Moneyball smacks down. In any statistical analysis if you pick isolated data points they can say just about anything, you have to look at it on the whole and there Beane does well.

2006-02-07 05:56:08
5.   tommyl
A related query,

Sportswriters and commentators seem to always point to the White Sox use of speed and smallball as the reason they were so good last year, but a quick perusal shows they either led or were second or so in the AL in homeruns. I wonder, would they have been even better if they hadn't played all this smallball and just left people on base to get knocked in?

2006-02-07 06:24:22
6.   Knuckles
I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just make a few quick points. I'm sure my buddies on this blog will address the rest of poor Murray's mistakes...

1. Hatteberg had an average EQA of .267 his first 3 years with the A's, then slipped to .238 last year. I'd say that's more than justifiable for not bringing him back as a 36 year old. They also have Dan Johnson, Nick Swisher, and Frank Thomas on their depth chart at first base. This is not a case of the failure of 'Moneyball', it's the continuing practice of it. The three 1B they have now are either younger, cheaper, or better, and in some cases, all three.

2. DePo being fired by the Dodgers. I think this was a garbage move made by ownership seriously starting to worry (for the first time in 40 years) about the Anaheim Angels of Long Beach y Ensenada taking a nice Latino shaped bite outta their fanbase. Look at ther Baseball-Reference page from last year and you'll see that Jeff Kent led their regulars with 149 games (he even had to start 10 games at first because of Dodger injuries). Five guys started at least 20 games at 3B for them in 2005, leading the morons to second guess not signing Beltre after his monster (read: fluke and/or performance enhanced) 2004. For the record, Beltre went to a better hitter's park and followed up his 48 2004 jacks with a whopping 19, to go along with his .303 OBP.

2006-02-07 06:35:44
7.   Shawn Clap
What a pickle. Because the only Baseball writing I dislike more than Murray Chass is Moneyball.

Granted I only read the first 30 pages of Moneyball (I thought I was getting a book about baseball, turns out it was a 250 page math equation).

I still have no idea why people care about Moneyball. I could understand if any of the so-called "Moneyball Teams" ever made it past the First Round of the playoffs, but until then, Moneyball is just a recipe for failure.

2006-02-07 06:44:12
8.   rsmith51
My opinion is that the White Sox won because they were very good at preventing runs and above average at scoring (thanks to being 4th in the league in HRs) not to mention getting a little lucky. They had a very good defense(No GGs, what a joke.) and a very solid pitching staff. I don't think small ball made any difference.
2006-02-07 06:46:53
9.   Ben
Shawn,

I think from the business side of things, which is where Beane's strategy is derived, you don't have to win the WS to be successful. Being competitive, getting the fans in the seats and the tv contracts are the real sources of revenue. For that you need long term planning, something for people to relate to over the years. Look at Florida, two WS titles in the last ten years and not a very viable team.

Moneyball stuff may be doomed to runner-up status, but it starts with the premise that you essentially have no money to spend on top talent. Oakland is doing better than Pittsburgh, and that's their real competition.

2006-02-07 07:25:44
10.   Shaun P
I always try to remember two things about Moneyball. Lewis isn't an historian or a biographer, he's a writer. And, like Ben said, its the general idea Beane took from the business world that is the book's central lesson. When you have limited resources - which every team does! - if you look for and exploit market inefficiences, you can maximize the bang you get for your bucks.

That idea has been around forever. The baseball story of Moneyball - the part that interests me - is how Beane applies that idea to running the A's. That he uses statistical analysis as one tool to help maximize value is a minor part of the story.

Unfortunately, many people made the statistical analysis - "the math equations" - the entire story. That is neither fair nor correct. And the way the story is twisted to denigrate statistical anlysis and the people who do it - like Paul DePodesta - smacks of anti-intellectualism to such a great degree that it scares me. Those arguments all boil down to, "We'd rather be ignorant than use every tool available to us to get better." 'Cuz that's certainly the way to get ahead . . .

Chass's logic is so bad - and his misconceptions about Moneyball so transparent - I won't dignify his article by saying anything else about it.

2006-02-07 07:54:48
11.   Shawn Clap
I think it's a Catch 22. Oakland hasn't always been a team of limited resources. The Bay Area is full of Baseball fans with the cash to go and watch good baseball.

But when you build your offense around trying to work a walk and hitting into a Fielder's Choice (read as: high OBP) you become a team of limited resources very quickly!

2006-02-07 08:21:02
12.   Ken Arneson
Can we please beat this dead horse some more? Please? Really, I don't think it's dead enough.
2006-02-07 08:39:43
13.   sam2175
11

Hitting into a fielder's choice increases your OBP? Let's see.

http://www.ehow.com/how_9736_calculate-base-percentage.html

This is how you do it:

1. Add up all plate appearances. This is every time you come to bat.

2. Subtract sacrifice bunts. The number you get is your total at bats.

3. Add up all the times you reached base safely, which should include hits, walks and the number of times you reached base by a hit by pitch. This total does not include the times you reached base because of an error or a fielder's choice.

4. Divide the times you reached base safely by your total at bats.

5. Round to the third decimal place. For example, .41051 is .411.

Number 3 directly contradicts the premise of your argument. But I really dont think you are here to rationally pose your argument and expose flaws in a hypothesis, it seems you are more interested in bashing a hypothesis out of irrational hatred. Which adds pretty much nothing to the discussion.

2006-02-07 08:46:55
14.   standuptriple
Oakland has been hampered by $ for a long time. Their luxury boxes are mediocre at best. Their Stadium is in a horrible part of town and has been remodeled to suit the Raiders more than the A's. The Corporate execs would rather go to PacBell/SBC/AT&T 20 minutes away.
Beane sets his team to make the playoffs. When they don't perform I don't seen how he should take the blame. Remeber when it took a fantabulous flip by Jeter to get lil Giambi at the plate? Or what about the A's 2-0 series lead against the Sox where I saw some of the most horrendous displays of base running EVER? Once Beane puts on the spikes you can put that on him, but if they make the post season he deserves a bit of a break in my book.
2006-02-07 09:01:35
15.   wsporter
Shaun P, what a great post, very thoughtful and well said. The Chass approach IS anti-intellectual and bespeaks an ignorance of fifty years of modern analytical work.

I used to think Murray was a great writer who strung some nice tight prose together. I don't think he even does that any longer. He just seems to drip venom now and is just another noise not worth paying attention to. I whish he'd just go away, it's dog track time.

2006-02-07 09:22:08
16.   Shawn Clap
I've obviously hit a sensitive nerve with a lot of you and I appologize. I didn't realize how many accountants there were out there.

To make make it up to you, I promise I'll read Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" before Opening Day, so that way I'll have a better understanding of the game, and be able to add to the discussion.

2006-02-07 09:26:51
17.   Murray
Is there really any Times writer worth reading on the subject of baseball--other than Lewis himself, who contributes the occasional piece to the Times Magazine on Sundays? Chass spends too much time in the echo chamber that is the press box to come up with any analytical breakthroughs of his own.
2006-02-07 09:51:48
18.   standuptriple
Shawn
I just had a hard time swallowing your arguments when you admitted you couldn't get into the book. Believe me, being in the Bay Area, Beane gets way too much credit in the national press, but he does deserve a pat on the back. I fully expect the A's to contend for a playoff spot this season. How many teams with OAK's payroll can say the same year in and year out?
2006-02-07 09:59:21
19.   rbj
9 days to pitchers and catchers.
The NYTimes is such a silly newspaper, I skipped Chass' column.
2006-02-07 09:59:29
20.   rilkefan
I'm not a fan of Chass or Moneyball. I thought this column was ok by the usual standards. Chass could have noted that Beane cut Howe in part out of jealousy. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to understand that Beane is operating in a much more competitive environment now that his approach is being followed more widely and is understood more widely.
2006-02-07 10:06:41
21.   wsporter
Shawn, I don't think it was you who struck nerve so much as Murray Chass. No it's not a proliferation in the number of accountants, although I'm not sure how that is relevant to the question of econometric analysis or Adam Smith. I think it is rather the existence of people who have learned how to read and who have developed the annoying habit of insisting on doing so.

Since you found "Moneyball" a bit dense you might also find "The Wealth of Nations" to be somewhat heavy sledding. Why not try John Nash's 1950 article from Econometrica "The Bargaining Problem". Its just short enough that you may not give up on it and you might actually find that you learn something about the decision making process in the presence of imperfect information. It's not a baseball article though.

2006-02-07 10:13:33
22.   Sliced Bread
Ok, so Beane's an overrated genius, and Chass is as relevant to baseball today as Dick Clark is relevant to hip hop.

How about we inject a little more Bronx into today's banter?

Any opinions/insights regarding Mel Stottlemyre reporting to the Yanks spring training next week as a 'celebrity pitching coach' or whatever they're calling him? (Post had this yesterday, Daily News has it today)

I think it's a weird deal for Guidry and Kerrigan. I mean, are they bringing back Roy White and Luis Sojo to ease the transition to Bowa/Pena as the base coaches?

If I'm Guidry, I'm looking forward to training camp as a relaxed time to connect with the pitchers, study their mechanics, personalities, routines etc. and begin coaching the staff.

If you're Guidry, do you want Mel there, or is he cramping your style?

Couldn't Mel just meet Gator for a steak and beer, and impart his wisdom?

Also, isn't it a little weird that Stottlemyre would report to Tampa after taking that gentlemanly dig at Steinbrenner on his way out the door to retirement?

2006-02-07 10:28:48
23.   sam2175
16

Naah, Shawn Clap, definitely not touching a nerve with anyone.

The point is simply that there are quite possibly very valid reasons to believe that the theory in "Moneyball" is wrong. If that is the case, an easier way to expose them is to resort to logical arguments as to why they are wrong. Your idea was that trying to build a team on OBP is perhaps inefficient, and by higher OBP, you meant trying to draw a walk or reaching on fielder's choice. While drawing a walk is a skill, reaching on fielder's choice is not, (unless you are Tony Womack) and furthermore, is not reflected in OBP figures. Also absent was what strategy trumps this one (admittedly, no one knows an answer to this, because if they knew, perhaps they can make a team not lose). So that case went nowhere.

And I dont believe you have to read Moneyball to understand Beane's strategy, if you understand Shaun P's post 10, that is pretty much it. I dont really believe Moneyball has to be part of the discussion as well. But to repeat, Beane's theory is that OBP is a relatively underrated predictor of offensive performance, so players with high OBP are underrated and can be had for lower than market value. So if he is right, he saves money on offense and get reasonable production out of them, while at the same time stockpiling quality arms based on good scouting, and remain competitive year after year despite high turnover and low payroll.

The problem with Chass' article is he is simply taking cases randomly to make his point. Are they related to Beane's strategy? I fail to see a clear connection.

2006-02-07 10:43:36
24.   wsporter
Slice, That's a good idea. I'd like to know if anyone gets out to Staten Island to see the little Yankees. I'm interested to find out if Gardner is the goods or not. Did anyone see him last summer? How about Schmidt and the other young pitchers? I try to keep up with the kids through the box scores and what little there is to read over at BBA, Pinstripesplus etc but there's nothing like seeing them. Any first hand info would be appreciated. I know its great having the big ball club right there but minor league is too much fun not to get in on. I try to see at least a couple of affiliate games every summer so I'd like to try to get up there this summer. Incidentally I think (I hope) folks may be pleasantly surprised by Andy Phillips, that kid can flat out hit, minor league pitching anyway.
2006-02-07 10:47:25
25.   Shawn Clap
Sam,
Belive me, I have nothing but respect for plate discipline and drawing the walk. It helps win championships. But it doesn't put the asses in the seats.

Oakland was in the playoff hunt to the last week of the season, yet they only mangaged to pull #18 rank in season attendance.

Is it because they play in a football stadium on the ugly part of town? I have no idea. But apparently a Moneyball-style team has limited appeal to non-intelluctual baseball fans.

2006-02-07 10:57:57
26.   Voxter
Part of the problem is that people have this misconception that there are "Moneyball teams", which I assume means teams built entirely on statistical analysis, when that's just not true. True, the A's and DePodesta's Dodgers probably relied more heavily on stats than most oranizations, but the Red Sox, Yankees and Cardinals were also built with a lot of stats in mind -- and I seem to remember those teams making it past the first round of the playoffs fairly recently.

The refusal to use different tools -- or rather, to acknowledge the viability of different tools -- for understanding seems like duncery for duncery's sake to me. Contrary to what "Moneyball" might have you believe (for it is anything but a long math equasion), I've never encountered a stathead who wouldn't acknowledge the viabilty of using experienced scouts and coaches to gather more information about players; I can't imagine that any of us wouldn't be ecstatic if we were given the opportunity, say, to spend a few hours learning the basics of scouting from a good, experienced scout.

One of the difficulties is that statheads are losing the semantic war. "Moneyball" has become a pejorative among people who, if I were unkind, I could refer to as Luddites or reactionaries; "stathead", "sabermetrics", and other terms have been gifted with negative connotations as well. The tide's not going to stem because people like Shawn Clap insist on acting like bigger idiots than they probably are, but we're also not going to get people to stop acting like idiots unless we can frame the debate with more neutral terms that don't call to mind the guys in high school who wore thick glasses and wrecked the grading curve. Because, sadly, nobody likes those guys, not in America anyway.

2006-02-07 10:57:58
27.   sam2175
25

Ok, now I think you might be onto something. If high OBP players are generally undervalued, it might mean that they are not marquee names (think Mark Bellhorn or Scott Hatteberg, very few are Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez, high OBP plus marquee). So, while Bobby Crosby is a fair replacement for Miguel Tejada at the price considered, perhaps Bobby Crosby is not such a huge draw. And that means that what really needs to be considered is if Miguel Tejada making 12 millions a year is worth, in terms of wins and revenue, over a Bobby Crosby making the league minimum. Guess Beane thinks Crosby is better.

2006-02-07 10:58:29
28.   joejoejoe
Sliced Bread -

Mel is a former Yankee great (or at least very good). I'm sure he will be working with the minor league prospects and adding to the ambience at Legends Field. And Gator is Gator. No need for concern.

Mel Stottlemyre - New York Yankee stats
164 W - 139 L, 1.21 WHIP, 3 20-win seasons
5 time All-Star

That's a better resume than former pitching coach. Enjoy Spring training Mel!

2006-02-07 11:02:26
29.   Ben
I just took a look at team payrolls last year, very interesting. Oakland, as is suggested above, over achieved like a mother. They're only 8 teams away from the cheapest in the game. But know who did even better, nearly missing the playoffs with the 4th lowest payroll... The Indians. I wouldn't mind being a Cleveland fan for the next few years. They're cheap and young and exciting. A few well placed moves should really put them into contention.
2006-02-07 11:16:27
30.   standuptriple
Maybe Mel will be showing up to reap the benefits of the pre-warmup spread. You know, those senior citizen discount meals aren't as cheap as they used to be. I too, don't really bask in the idea his attendance will be helpful, but as long as he doesn't undermine the current guys I can't say I'm against him either. Hopefully he will take a laissez-faire policy and spend the majority of his time joking with Yoggi.
2006-02-07 11:18:19
31.   Sliced Bread
joejoejoe,

Mel doesn't need to flash his resume to justify an invitation to Tampa. We're all familiar with Mel's credentials and his place in Yankees history.

I'm questioning whether Mel's presence at camp will steal some of Gator's thunder - and I'm also questioning the necessity of having Mel return, especially so soon.

If you're the new pitching coach, do you want your predecessor (no matter how qualified he is) hanging around for your first month on the job? I wouldn't. If Mel wants to come around for a few days, maybe the first week, no problem, but the entire month?

I don't think Guidry will have any problem with Mel. I just question why the Yanks would have their former pitching coach hanging around, while their new guy (who has attended the Yanks camp in recent years) is assuming his position.

2006-02-07 11:49:20
32.   Sliced Bread
wsporter,

Did you catch Gene Michael's assessment of Andy Phillips? I think it was in Newsday yesterday. Stick figures Phillips could be a 20 hr, 80 RBI hitter.

I'm anxious to get a look at Eric Duncan in the Bronx, but dreading the unfortunate circumstances that would require bringing him up immediately.

2006-02-07 12:04:11
33.   Shaun P
wsporter, thanks for the kind words. Voxter, I think you've got it exactly right. Pop culture has taught us over the years that geeky people with thick glasses who enjoy math are to be avoided at all costs, and put down as frequently as possible. What a shame, but there we are.

Every team in baseball uses statistical analysis to some degree. They need to, and they know it. The dinosaurs do eventually die off, after all. So do the dead horses that have been beat to a pulp, revived, and then beat again.

Back to the Bombers - the Yanks have had so many "guest instructors" at Spring Training over the years that I don't think Mel being there will matter that much, to Guidry or anyone else. After all, Gator needs to work with 'the kids' more than the vets, right? And Mel never bothered much with the kids before, so why would he start now?

2006-02-07 12:10:39
34.   wsporter
Slice, Yeah I saw that. I've been saying the kid can play but WOW that's alot to ask of a (young?) guy who hasn't had 100 ML ab's. If we've got anyone to bring up right now who could do it my money would be on him though. I'd also bet that his OBA and SP will be decent.

I plan to get up to Trenton this summer to see Duncan. It looks like a couple of decent kids are going to be "pushed" up and out of Tampa and play there as well. So it should be interesting. I hope Hughes is moved up by mid-summer.

We try to get around to see the different teams in our system. Its always a blast to do and fun to put faces and first hand viewing together with all the written stuff. Really makes you take BBA and the other publications with a grain of salt.

Do you ever get out to Staten Island?

2006-02-07 12:18:23
35.   Rob Gee
Cost/Benefit analysis

/ = "divided by"

I'm no accountant and I paid enough attention in elementary school to know that if the number on top is bigger than the one on the bottom, then you have a number greater than 1. (4/2 = 2.5; 2/4 = .5). If you're interested in spending more than you take in, that's good. If you're interested in gaining more than you spend, that's bad.

In constructing a baseball team, you want to know whether the COST of acquiring or retaining a player is greater than the BENEFIT he'll bring to the team. It's the same reasoning that goes into buying a house, a pair of pants, or marrying your sweetie. The only difference is how we define COST (# of outs, $$$, Errors) to compare with the BENEFIT (OPS, HR's, Putouts). Sabermetrics is nothing more than finding productive ways of calculating these two terms.

Now when I look at what Beane has done I marvel because he seems to base his decisions on the BENEFIT side. I wish CASH-man was more attuned to BENEFITs because over the long run, any increase in COST translates to increased ticket prices, parking etc. without the commensurate increase in BENEFIT (More winning).

Perfect example is my boy MIL-ton BRAD-ley. Beane trades a AA propspect and gets TWO full-time MLB'ers. Then signs MB to a 3mil arbitration contract. Beane got a full-time CF (27 y.o.)for .5 AA prospect and 3mil whom was undervalued because of his attitude (!? - e.g. compare to the COST of acquiring the less productive CoCo Crisp). In contrast, we sign Damon (32 y.o) to a 4 four-year 52mil deal. BTW: Beane had gotten Damon when he was 27 too. Again low COST acquisition for a team that came a Jeterian flip from beating us in the ALDS.

As others have mentioned, "Moneyball" is nothing more than the strict application of Cost/Benefit (Risk) analysis in baseball by a team that: a) needs to be 'smart' to compete; and b) a GM smart enough to rely on that logic irrespective of the 'look' of the players it leads to. The rest is just good ole fashioned story telling.

As far as Ch-ASS-man goes, obviously he has an Ass to grind - namely for the disgruntled baseball lifers that see the new generation knowing how to apply some fairly straight-forward economic principles to player evaluation. As with any paradigm shift (see Thomas Kuhn), the old dinosaurs struggle to come up with new insights and their ways die.

Fact is, I've never seen MIL-ton play in person, but I'm willing to bet dollars for donuts (Boston Creamed, please), based on the statistics and their trends alone, that over the next four years, likely starting as soon as this one, his "value" doubles that of Damon. Now all we have to do is argue about how "value" is defined.

Hopefully, sooner or later we see Beane trade his job for one with more resources esp. if that one is in the Bronx. Then we'll see up-close the decisions that are made and how rigidly he sticks to maximizing value. But it won't be hard to do it better than CASH-man.

2006-02-07 12:26:05
36.   Sliced Bread
Good point re: Mel's 'indifference' to the kids, Shaun P. I still think a month of Camp Mel might cramp Gator's style. I hope I'm wrong about that.

No, wsporter I haven't been to a S.I. game.
Since I became a dad a few years ago, I haven't been getting out to the ballpark much.
I go to about 3-5 Yanks games per year.
I live way out in northern Jersey now, where the Sussex Skyhawks of the independent Can-Am league will be the new baseball attraction. Probably an easier ticket to obtain than Staten Island or Trenton, and certainly more convenient for those of us out in the sticks.
That's where my sons will get their first look at 'professional' baseball. Let's Go Skyhawks!

2006-02-07 12:26:07
37.   The Mick 536
What about Numbers Game. Doesn't anyone like his Sunday pieces. Schwartz can teach about stats, yes. The beat writers bite it though. Murray can do the legal bases and little else recently.

On Mel, remembering him with the Yanks in 64. Mets in 86. Came up late. Went 9-3 with 2.06. Helped with the last pennant of the dynasty. Next year 20-9 when they finished 77-85. Without him, who knows. The next year, he lost 20.

If I had a wish, I'd commission him to teach Farnie how to induce batters to hit ground balls. Mel could do it. Farnie don't have to K everyone.

Something always fishy with Georgie and pitching coaches. He kept Billy Connors in Tampa as an advisor. BC now with Texas. Remember the attempts to tune Contreras that enraged Joe.

And Georgie used Art Fowler as a bargaining chip with Billy.

I am just making this up, but it could be true. Ya think that Mel covers for his pitchers and George just wants someone who will tell the truth about who is hurt and who isn't?

Not a fan. He is a pitch counter. He failed with Javier and Jared and Weaver and Contreras. Am I being too critical.

2006-02-07 12:46:02
38.   Sliced Bread
Good point re: George and pitching coach by committe, Mick. Somethin's up down there.

Mel trying to teach Farnswacker to induce grounders. Hmmm....

Mel: Kyle, you realize you don't have to strike out every batter you face, right?

Farnswacker: I just have to kill them.

Mel: Easy there, big fella. Can you throw a sinker?

Farnwacker: Fuck, I can throw a sinker, a fridger, evens a disherwasher, and them fucker's real heavy.

Mel: Go talk to Gator. (pointing) Over there. He's the kid with the moustache.

2006-02-07 12:50:45
39.   Knuckles
A fridger- sweet!
2006-02-07 12:55:16
40.   deadteddy8
The meme circulating through blogs and news stories I've been reading here in the Bay Area is that Beane's moved on from "OBP is gold" because too many other teams are competing for otherwise nondescript players with high OBP, driving up its price. Instead, he's built his team on defense and passable offense. Look at the players. They have three CFs in the outfield (Payton, Kotsay, Bradley), a perennial Gold Glover at 3B (Chavez), and solid to better than average fielders at all the other positions. God knows what the A's proprietary defensive analysis says, but just a cursory glance at who they have tells me that Beane's mining a different market inefficiency: great defense is undervalued. That's Moneyball in action.
2006-02-07 13:14:44
41.   wsporter
Slice, I think you're way ahead in the back stretch for Banterer of the day. That precise conversation is why Mazzone stopped rocking and started shaking.
2006-02-07 13:16:33
42.   Shaun P
Man, I hope Farnsworth pitches well . . . I also hope he strikes out damn near every batter he faces. He's recently tended to be more of a flyball pitcher, so why take chances with the revamped OF defense?

I like how Cashman has stocked the 'pen with guys who have high K-rates. I imagine its to help fix the defense. If you can't put better defenders in the field, you can give the defenders you've got less chances to screw up. Now if the rotation will hold together . . .

2006-02-07 13:17:54
43.   Shaun P
BTW Sliced, "Farnswacker" sounds like a great nickname.
2006-02-07 13:31:29
44.   Sliced Bread
I'd pay triple admission to hear Sheppard introduce Kyle Farnsworth as Lord Farnswacker.

Man, I hope he's half the mythological creature I'm imagining him to be.

I have a fan's high hopes for the Farnz Ferdinand, and a grounded fear that he... nope, I won't give in to fear.
Praise be to Lord Farnswacker.

2006-02-07 13:38:41
45.   jkay
Here is a long report trashing the financing of the new Stadium.

http://www.goodjobsny.org/Lootreport.pdf

2006-02-07 15:05:43
46.   JohnnyC
Mel trying to get strike-out pitchers to throw groundballs is exactly why he's no longer pitching coach. Given the Yankees' sub-par defense and the comfy confines of many modern ballparks, the worst thing to do is to pitch to contact (let 'em put it in play)...it has meant too many mediocre sliders over the plate in pitcher's counts. Ahh, let's reminisce about the many two strike meatballs Yankees pitchers have thrown. You can hear Jim Kaat tsk-tsking even now. The whole point of having a 12 man staff is that your starter goes as hard as he can as long as he can. Yeah, I'd prefer Farnsworth try to strike everyone out.
2006-02-07 17:32:23
47.   singledd
"Mel Stottlemyre - New York Yankee stats
164 W - 139 L, 1.21 WHIP, 3 20-win seasons
5 time All-Star"

It should also noted that most of Mel's career was playing on some of the worst Yankee teams in modern history. A number of 10th and 9th places finishes.

I started following the Yanks and Mel in 1965. He was a hell of a pitcher.

2006-02-07 19:18:32
48.   wsporter
I loved Mel and Lindy McDaniel. Mel cause he was so good and so young (Christ how old am I) and Lindy because I thought his name sounded so cool. Did someone say Mel wasn't any good? They must not have seen him pitch. He was a groundball inducing machine. He'd give up a HR but jeez he'd have guys swinging over that sinker when they knew it was coming. Must not have seen him pitch.
2006-02-07 22:08:05
49.   Adam B
I think they meant Mel wasn't any good as a pitching coach. He was a good pitcher, however, that did not translate to him being a good pitching coach mainly because of a stubbornness by him to adapt to changes in the game, like how if your team does not have a good defense, you do not want them inducing lots of balls in play.

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