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On Paradigms and Kevin Correia

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The easy reaction to the news that the Twins and Kevin Correia have agreed to a 2-year/$10 million deal is to overreact. I still plan to. But before I go down that path, I want to remind myself about paradigms.

A paradigm is the story around the story that impacts our perceptions. The classic example (I think from Stephen Covey) is that while riding the subway, he saw the father of several small children watching them passively as they misbehaved quite badly on the subway. People were getting angry at the children and even angrier at his indifference. That perception, and the entire carís reaction, changed when it became clear he and the children were coming from the hospital, where they had said their last goodbyes to his wife, their mom.

A paradigm is the story the conman spins to make us think that doing something stupid is doing something smart. It can also lead to overreaction, as Aaron Gleeman and I discussed on our most recent podcast. We recalled the overwhelmingly negative reaction nationally and locally when the Twins drafted Ben Revere.

Some of that reaction was undoubtedly driven by two paradigms in vogue at the time. First, that the Twins were cheap, and thus overdrafted Revere to save money. And second was that they were enamored with speedy piranhas over power. Ultimately, it isnít clear that either was true, and it certainly isnít clear that Revere was a good example of either.

Hereís an interesting thought experiment. What if the paradigms at the time had been different? For instance, what if the Twins had the reputation of the ďMoneyballĒ Aís? Had the Aís signed Revere, it would have been example of them recognizing the value of speed and defense, getting an underrated contributor in those overlooked areas at a bargain price. (And ultimately flipping him for more than he was worth.) It might well have been a love-fest.

Thatís the power Ė and the trap Ė of a paradigm.

The signing of Correia faces a similar challenge. The current popular paradigms for the Twins are that they love ďpitch to contactĒ starters and that they are cheap. Correia represents the worst of both of those philosophies. So, before I overreact, let me just say that Iím aware of these paradigms. Iím aware of their power. And Iím aware that neither paradigm is really true, with plenty of counter-examples. Iím even aware that Kevin Correia is not Jason Marquis.

So what am I left with? Unfortunately, I think Iím left with Kevin Correia signed for two-years and $10 million.

Correia's ERA over the last two years is 4.49 and thatís pitching in the National League. He wasnít bad because he was unlucky. Instead, on those off-years where heís been good, itís because he has been lucky. And heís never pitched in the AL.

I guess heís been fairly durable. However, just because you can make every start doesnít mean you should, a lesson that the Pirates seemingly learned when they moved him to the bullpen after the trade deadline.

And while there is room for a guy like that on the bottom end of a pitching staff, it isnít on a multi-year deal. This is not dissimilar to the Twins signing Marquis last year. Except that Marquis wasnít kicked off of the starting rotation the year before. And he had a better year. And he wasnít given a multi-year deal.

I get that the starting pitching market is drying up. I get that the Twins need someone to eat some innings. And I get that the most vitriolic critics will wallow in paradigms that arenít really justified.

But hereís something else that isnít justified Ė giving Kevin Correia a two-year deal and 10 million dollars.


  1. PopRiveter's Avatar
    If this is what is available on the market, you have to pass. Convert Butera!
    I hope I'm wrong, but this sure looks like compounding the situation.
    Good for Correia?
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