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Hugh Morris

A contrarian perspective on Correia, Twins Sabermetrics use and the Front Office

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(I'm going to start this off with some generalized statements about where I'm coming from and why I'm writing this. Feel free to scroll down until you see the big red “TL;DR”. I like to think I've got some insight or can provide a bit of entertainment, but that belief hardly makes me unique amongst people who post on the internet. The footnotes also get a little loose.)

As sports fans, we've become used to hearing a viewpoint,statement or assertion repeated ad nauseum. Twitter, Facebook, Skip Bayless, forums such as TD, talk radio and click trolling columnists all contribute to the cacophony. The noise to signal ratio is frequently atrocious, and yet little by little, “conventional wisdom” forms from the opinions and becomes the bedrock of acceptable conversation. This post is not written to complain about the process, mind you. Frankly, the public's insatiable appetite to discuss, pontificate and absorb information about Sport that gives it such an appeal to me. I have a feeling many of those posting on this site agree. Sports, and the common opinions about them, become a cultural touchstone-allowing immediate connection across generation gaps, racial boundaries, gender, classes and any other obstacle society may put between people.


I find how this wisdom forms to be fascinating, personally, and I'm even more interested by how local stimuli and self-selection fuel formation... and occasionally transform it into a fermentation process. Sometimes conventional wisdom can be accurate and widespread (Adrian Peterson is an elite NFL running back, the Twins generally have more pitch to contact guys in their rotation than they do strikeout machines), other times it can be accurate and localized(Brian Dozier plays very good defense at second).

Most intriguing though, is when “conventional wisdom” or “common sense” is either completely wrong or vastly over-generalized. Usually, this is most visible when new information is processed by someone who has already determined their opinion on a topic and are examining the information through that lens. Sometimes,this misinformation is held by a widespread group of people (Adrian Peterson needs a quarterback who can make defenses pull the 8th man out of the box if he wants to have a successful game/season) and other times it can be held very locally (Michael Baumann of Crashburn and Jonah Keri of ESPN have had very funny reactions to seeing Twins fans respond to tweets/posts containing Mauer praise. I've removed them to condense the post. Happy to post pictures upon request though, for anyone who missed it in August).1

In (mostly) lurking TwinsDaily since inception, I've seen all sorts of things work their way into becoming accepted opinion. Somethings are absolutely accurate (Gardy's unwillingness to platoon players, Delmon's utter inability to play defense) while others are definitely not (The Twins do not immediately jettison players with“personality” even when it negatively impacts the clubhouse-Pioneer Press has hinted at it and I believe that one of the Star Tribune guys has actually said/tweeted it, but Danny Valencia did not get along with some of the players in the clubhouse we might consider more milquetoast. When circumstances necessitated a choice between the players, Danny was kept).

TL;DR

The most entertaining to me are debatable premises held up by using certain readings (possibly misreadings) of information to support them. Those are what I'd like to cover here.My hope is that this thread generates some discussion. No specific forums poster is being called out by this post-but I'm trying to avoid strawmen so these will be views that I've seen expressed on the board. I will warn the reader that since I've put considerable time and effort into writing this, any reductivist/tribalist comments or arguments below (ranging from “stat nerd” to “front office apologist”to “wrong kind of fan” and everywhere in between) will greatly strain my civility. Successful forums meet effort with effort. Dying forums are drowned by attempts to shut down discussion.

Without further ado, and avoiding the lowest hanging of fruit(“Mauer's soft!”), I present to you:


Contrarian Thinking

Theme 1: The Twins Front Office is averse to/dismissive of/ignorant about Sabermetrics.


This one is rampant. It usually coincides with posts about the team being stuck in the past. Please don't get me wrong-there is plenty of evidence that the Twins aren't industry leaders on the SABR front, but they also may not be as far behind as many believe. Dissecting two of the more common citations I've seen for this belief, we begin with:

Item 1: Terry Ryan on Kevin Correia

Well,I always go back to the scouting evaluation, people that have seen him, and we saw him a lot with the Pirates, and certainly before that when he was with the Padres and the Giants. We like his makeup, he has stuff, we had evaluators tell us and me in particular that this guy is better than the numbers.

In a certain light, especially with already established opinions about the front office, this quote is excellent evidence to prove that when it comes down to it, TR and the front office will routinely overlook statistical analysis in favor of scouting. Looking back at the box scores of Correia's worst starts of the season, however, I think I see where Terry was coming from. Even as an unabashed fan of advanced stats I think he has a point. A quote from Correia, late in September, started me down this path.

"There are just a few innings I'd like to take back, besides that, I think I had a good year."

Looking back at his 10 worst starts (judged by WPA, ~1/3 of his year) I found something interesting. He held opponents scoreless in35 of his 53 innings (roughly two of every three) pitched. There were only four innings in which he gave up just 1 run to his opponents (in three of them, he was pulled. The other was a solo homerun by Jose Bautista). In only one of those games did opponents score on him in three separate innings.


This is to say- Kevin Correia has a crooked numbers problem. In the 14 innings that opponents hung crooked numbers on Correia ('4' is sort of crooked, right?), 2 of them had Correia giving up 3 runs, 1 giving up 4, 1 giving up 5 and 2 giving up 6. If, in those 6 innings, Correia gave up only 2 runs instead of letting the inning spiral out of control, his ERA on the year would have dropped to 3.45. There'd be debates about if he was the FA acquisition of the year.2

Obviously, there is some note to be made about sample size. The converse is also true-if he had given up an additional 15 runs throughout the year, his ERA would have risen by a point. In baseball, you didn't get mulligans for bad innings. I simply found it notable that 6 innings (3% of his total IP) spread across 10 games had such an impact on his end of year stats. And that brings me back to the original Terry quote.

A scout watching one of those games would report that Correia had a very effective start, were it not for one big inning. When looking at acquisition (where makeup, personality, etc come into play)-the organization would ask itself if Correia had the ability to stop an inning from spiraling out of control and if he could avoid the mostly mental pitching errors3 that will drown an inning as fast as struggling in quicksand4.

Those numbers suggest that if Correia can find a way to get himself out of those innings5 (or if the defense in the corner outfield starts turning in-the-gap doubles into long outs and singles... a distinct possibility if we never see a Willingham-Doumit/Parmalee outfield combo again), his value would increase dramatically

Posited Theory: Given that I'm unaware of a stat that measures scoreless innings vs big innings6, I think it's reasonable for one to argue that Correia has pitched better than his numbers-without being anti-SABR or opposed to statistical analysis.

Item 2: Rob Antony doesn't know FIP!

This one has been kicking around for a while. SI did an article,Gleeman lit up a blog post about it, so Neyer called up Assistant GM Rob Antony. Evidently Parker wants credit when he has amazing interviews:

Gleeman's write-up (here: http://aarongleeman.com/2010/04/01/s...ether-at-last/) was based on my March 2010 interview in Ft Myers (here:http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw.../88887222.html) which Rob Neyer then picked up. The remainder of the interview (including the FIP part) is at my former site OverTheBaggy which now redirects here.


In basic summary: During a 2010 interview, Rob Antony guessed that FIP meant “First strike in Inning Pitched”. While a hilarious guess, he was quite wrong. It means Fielding Independent Pitching
7. This has been red meat for those who dislike the front office's POV on analysis/SABR ever since. I find it curious. If Jack Goin is still kicking around the board, he may be able to provide more insight on the topic, but I'm interested in how forums members actually think front offices in Major League Baseball work. Is it the assumption/working belief here that all members of a Baseball Operations/Player Personnel department have their jobs focused around player personnel? I lack firsthand experience, but that seems off to me.

Essentially every story I see involving Rob Antony doing something has him involved in contract negotiations, the mechanics of trade deals and arbitration. Additionally, nearly every story I see on negotiations involving the Twins that names a member of the Front Office names Rob. I've yet to see his name on any stories regarding skill evaluations for any FA, draft pick or international prospect.If I were to liken it to an auto company- would we expect the VP of Marketing at Ford to know the specs and sourcing for the bolts holding the engine in place on the F150? If Rob's job is primarily(or solely) negotiations and contracts, would it be reasonable to consider advanced metrics outside of the scope of his job? In essence, it was four years ago, the organization has since elevated Jack to a greater role and, based on his answers in his thread, it sounds like the analytics department is growing.

Posited Theory: Don't get me wrong, the flub was certainly embarrassing and quite telling of Rob's knowledge (4 years ago) or lack thereof of advanced metrics. But if Rob's job only tangentially involves player evaluation and we have additional evidence in the form of greater resources going to enhance statistical analysis in the Front Office-does the Neyer interview tell us that much about the front office of the Twins as a whole? If it did at the time, do those findings still hold true now?

Theme 2: The Twins are an Old Boys Network and need fresh ideas and staff members

Item 1: Rick Anderson, Joe Vavra, Etc.
There certainly has been limited turnover in the coaching staff under Gardenhire. While I think that we, as fans, generally have very limited knowledge of what coaches do and the impact they have-the last 3 years has provided plenty of ammunition for those seeking changes. I'll leave Vavra alone for now.8 But Rick Anderson. Rick Anderson is where Twins Arguments go to find agreement. He got lucky with Johan, many say, but has otherwise been terrible as a pitching coach. Or has passed his prime.


But how does one measure a successful pitching coach? Are they the ones whose teams consistently have the lowest ERA? The most wins? The highest K Rate? The lowest walk rate? Personally, I find it useless to try and divine a pitching coach's impact from stats. I'm more than willing to listen if anyone has a method they like... but trying to analyze the impact of any variable without a baseline or a control makes for pretty fuzzy analysis that tends to read like a Rorschach Blot, confirming the belief of the analyst.


To the extent that it's possible to evaluate a coaching staff from the outside, I'd lean towards looking for pitchers who had increased success after leaving the team- or who came in successful and promptly cratered. Certainly, David Ortiz, the platooned Danny Valencia, Carlos Gomez, JJ Hardy and a mess of others can be pointed to as evidence of potential Hitting Coach failures. But what about for Rick Anderson, since he started in 2002?

Since he began, the Twins have had the following meaningful starters leave or join the team (I'm sparing the explanations because they're way too long. Happy to post any of them if people would like to see or disagree with my scoring)9 :

Point for Anderson (Outperformed reasonable expectations with theTwins or tanked upon departure):
Carlos Silva. Boof Bonser, Johan Santana, Carl Pavano

Push:
Kyle Loshe, Joe Mays, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Vance Worley(SSS), RA Dickey (Knuckleball)

Point against Anderson (Improved noticeably after release/trade):
Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano

The Twins rotation has been absolutely miserable over the last three years. I'll happily grant that it appears that Rick Anderson has been ineffective at helping players come back from arm surgeries and injuries-at least in the first year back. That's hardly a complaint unique to him, and I'm not aware of any organizations known for their surgery rehabbing prowess (though Tampa seems to have hit an extended run without injury at all. Some say 2%, others try to assign logic to random chance. I'll not argue with either). The bottom line, however, is that the power arms drafted or traded for over the last six years either haven't made it to the team yet (Berrios, Reliever/Starter Conversion Crew, Meyer, Stewart, May), are too fresh to truly grade out (Gibson) or flamed out in the minors (Shooter Hunt, Guiterrez, Guerra, etc). I have a tough time pinning any of that on Anderson.

Posited Theory: For the folks who have been in the big leagues over his tenure, I find it skewing in his favor. Feel free to disagree,but I'd love seeing the compelling reason that Anderson has meaningfully contributed to the dumpster fire of the rotation over the last three years and that he should be shouldering the blame, no player personnel, medical and luck.

Item 2: Bill Smith

Walked into a situation rife with potential (and a few pitfalls), was struck by three monumental injuries (Nathan, Morneau, Mauer)10 and in some cases compounded problems with his reactions (Ramos-for-Capps, 2011 and the Drew Butera Show). If a few other posters here weren't doing such a good job of it, I'd have fought against the “Bill Smith had an awful tenure” logic in this post, but I will address his continued presence (I believe this was in the Corrigan thread). Again, I would imagine that Jack would have insight here, but the only places I see Bill's name appear in news stories lately is regarding the new facility in Lee County.


Posited Theory: Bill Smith was pretty well regarded for business and group management acumen. He did not work out as a general manager. An employee who committed no misconduct and who was willing to be demoted back to his still-open previous job, at which he was successful, would only be fired for symbolic reasons (unless there was the belief that he actually would rock the boat). Symbolic terminations when demotion is an option makes me queasy.

I hope the read was enjoyable, and more importantly, enlightening. Turns out I had to turn this into a blog post instead of a forums post due to length. I could also probably use a hobby. I know at least a couple of the posited theories may be controversial enough to spark some discussion-and I hope they do! If there's any interest, I may do a followup. Possible ideas floating around include hidden benefits from Pelfrey's time here, the value of strikeouts (thanks Mackey), and analyzing the uptick in SpiritofVodkaDave's posting since the Derosa retirement announcement. Regardless, enjoy.

Note: I apologize for any spacing issues above. The "restore autosaved content" button completely saved me-but had the nasty side effect of merging a few words together in every sentence. I think I got them all.

1 Sometimes it happens with small self-selected groups of people across the country. I pray none of you have the misfortune of getting into a discussion about Football with a casual friend or complete stranger and hearing a sentence begin with "Everybody knows Black Quarterbacks...". Yet I'd wager many of you have. Or I just have a face that appeals to casual racists. Regardless, for them-that's "common knowledge".

2Fans in Kansas City would have been irate that Dayton Moore was too cheap to put up the money to sign him and get the Royals into the playoffs.

3 He's a veteran pitcher, but most 40 year olds you ask would have a list of things that they wish they knew when they were 30. There's still time to mature and grow as a player. Of course, if you ask a 10 year old, he'll try to figure out how a 30 year old could make it to the mound without his walker. There's also a very easy USAFChief joke in here somewhere.

4

5Yes, I'm aware that strikeouts are a perfect way to do that.

6Though if someone would like to provide me a usable data set, or do the work themselves, I'd love to see whether a pitcher throwing 6 1 run innings and 3 shutout innings is a more or less valuable way to get to a 6 ERA than 2 3 run innings and 6 shutout innings. And it should have a cool name. Like TOOTBLAN or OOPS.

7As opposed to xFIP, which is Fielding and Pitching Independent Pitching. But maybe I just need someone to explain the rationale behind normalizing Home Runs. Please though, PMs only. Don't ruin the thread!

8 Though I'll admit that I'm troubled by the across-the-board strikeout rate increase for the 2013 lineup under Brunansky... including a lot swinging for the fences Ks late in games where the Twins could have tied the game or taken the lead with a single or even sacrifice fly.

9 It's probably for the best. I had a wildly inappropriate joke about Dusty Baker feelings towards Francisco Liriano's 2013 pitch mix and slider frequency. It would definitely have been redacted for adult situations.

10Is there precedent for losing such a contingent in two years? 2 MVPs in the primes of their careers and an elite closer-all without red flags for concussion, catastrophic leg weakness or arm destruction.

Updated 11-15-2013 at 01:18 AM by Hugh Morris (Giving Credit Where Credit is Due)

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Comments

  1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
    A well thought out and backed up article. My biggest argument against what you wrote would be the case you built for Rick Anderson. I agree we can't blame him for all of the pitching woes. You can only shine a turd so much. That being said, Gardy "picked" Rick Anderson to be his pitching coach back when both were still in their playing days. I think Gardy and Rick will be together forever, they're a pair. That also seems wrong to me. I can't point to any metrics to help support my thoughts, my views, but I don't think Rick Anderson is good at his job. I think it's wrong to credit him for Carl Pavano, he was a successful veteran pitcher long before he came to MN. Boof Bonser was never good, another guy who shouldn't be in the for Rick Anderson category. Carlos Silva was traded to the Twins where he spent the prime of his career, his decline after he left Minnesota could be a small push towards Anderson. I don't know enough to argue more, I'd have to do some more research, but when I think Rick Anderson, my mind shutters just a little. I am not a fan of his. I'd need to see some more numbers to convince me otherwise.

    Correia was better than expected, the Twins, as a whole, are not sabermetric adverse, and the Twins are an old boys network. I'm glad Bill Smith lost his job as GM, and I'm also glad the Twins retained his services within the organization. He's good at his job, he's not good as a GM.
  2. beckmt's Avatar
    I feel the most damning point on Rick Anderson was Liarano, who the Pirates fixed. That to me is a major black mark. The only point would be if he was throwing the same mix as 2006 and a walking arm injury to ending his career. I do not know that answer.
  3. twinsfan34's Avatar
    First off – I want to say I really enjoy those who put time into thinking and thinking that is informed (involves some research). I probably have an ‘unfair’ bias (I’m Mathematician, SABR member, work in Analytics) towards those who back up their claims with findings, facts, and well developed theories to those numbers. So I appreciate that. It makes for better thinking, imo.

    Enjoyed the Correia analysis, shed light on his outings. Personally, I never thought he was terrible and was a decent return on the investment. Could have been worse and more expensive, e.g. Ryan Dempster. But I definitely believe a good defense as you stated can help eliminate a few bad innings and that often is a reason teams make it to the world series and win it. The ball bounces their way. Look at that error and obstruction for the Cardinals win and the home run saving catches in the playoffs versus not.


    Rick Anderson. I’m not a really a big fan of him. I have very little expertise when it comes to pitching and I threw my shoulder out in high school pitching. Never had stride length coaching, video analysis, etc to correct the strain I was putting on my shoulder. Before long I had acromial ligament tears (works within the rotator cuff) by my senior year of high school. I don't think it was because I pitched on average two games a week or high pitch counts. I think it was a mechanics problem that could have been stopped by proper training (weights, bands) and mechanics when pitching. All that to say, I think a pitching coach is largely responsible for the (pitching motion related) health of his pitchers. They need objective eyes. I needed objective eyes.

    By the time the pitcher has made it to the pros, they usually have developed the pitches they'll use. A pitching coach, to me, would try to make sure they're not getting off track. I would see video analysis and fine detail as really important. It's the little things in pitching that makes a difference.

    Who makes the first trip to the mound? The pitching coach. A lot of times it's situational, so and so is up, remember what we talked about, etc etc. But a lot of times I would think it's also minor changes in the game - "you're landing on your heal too much." "Keep your weight back, explode through." "It looks like your release point is a little behind, etc"

    How to evaluate that - I don't know. Bill Belichick, the Patriots coach, and other coaches seem to make great in-game adjustments. It's more apparent in football and perhaps, in baseball, in the NL, with the pitching position requiring more 'double switches', platoon playing, situational hitting, and hitting matchups. So hire NL managers?

    I don’t see many of those ‘in-game’ adjustments coming from Anderson’s trips to the mound. I have to think that a pitching coach is more than “You got this champ” psychology.

    Per the players you mentioned in the Anderson carousel.

    Point for Anderson (Outperformed reasonable expectations with theTwins or tanked upon departure):
    Carlos Silva. Boof Bonser, Johan Santana, Carl Pavano
    I didn't think Boof Bonser was much different with us versus not. He was the #29th ranked pitching prospect (2002) which was two years before the Twins acquired him. He had dropped out of the top 100 when the Twins got him. ERA was escalating towards 6 before departure. His career turned for the worse when he tore his rotator cuff and labrum. And he never really recovered. So I wouldn't put him not doing well after the Twins (post injury). And to my earlier point, I put some of being healthy on the pitching coach.

    I'd be curious the research of Pitching coaches and player injuries, if there's a pitching coach(es) out there who frankly, don't have injured pitchers. To quote another football coach, Bud Grant valued healthy players more than talented players. That is to say, if you're not healthy, it doesn't matter how good you were/are.

    Johan Santana, it was a salary thing, and the main reason the Red Sox and Yankees didn't bite was because they felt they saw an injury coming along. He won an ERA title his first year after the Twins. So he was good, but then, as expected, the injury came. My belief, if he didn't have the injury, he'd still be a top-3 Cy Young qualifying pitcher year in and year out.
    Again, how much of Santana's injury could be attributed to Anderson as a pitching coach? I don't know. The research question I had might help shed light on that...it might not.

    Carl Pavano, had better seasons before the Twins, but he did well with the Twins. I can’t agree or disagree with you on if Anderson helped. Pavano did have two good seasons back to back, something he had not done before. But, he got hurt in 2012 and it actually went undiagnosed for over 3 months! It ended up ending his career. I know the medical staff was on the hook for it. But, again, this is just me, I can’t help but wonder – if the pitching coach is also partly responsible. I at least think he needs to be very knowledgeable here.


    Push:
    Kyle Loshe, Joe Mays, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Vance Worley(SSS), RA Dickey (Knuckleball)
    Kyle Lohse absolutely was way better after leaving the Twins. He wasn’t that good with the Reds or the Phillies. But under Dave Duncan, then with the Cardinals, he substituted a 2-seam fastball for his 4-seam fastball and wasn’t giving away his off-speed stuff anymore and voila! Lohse began posting ERAs in the 3’s.


    Scott Baker…elbow injury in 2011…then let go.
    Kevin Slowey…triceps injury in 2010…shoulder strain in 2011…then asked to be a reliever, he balked, then let go…
    Joe Mays only had 1 good season, the rest he had ERAs over 5! But again…2004…injured…Tommy John surgery

    Are we noticing a trend here?

    R.A. Dickey was mostly in the minor leagues with the Twins and still developing his knuckle. Agree with you, this is a push.

    Vance Worley, he had some good years before us. I would leave this one as TBD.


    Point against Anderson (Improved noticeably after release/trade):
    Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano
    I think Matt Garza was young with us. He flashed mid 3’s ERA before the trade. He was not seen as a clubhouse fit. I’d say a push here.

    Francisco Liriano…I’d put him in the “injured under Rick Anderson” category. He finally got healthy and he’s just about as dominant as he was when he healthy.

    Imagine if the Twins pitching staff didn’t have any of those major injuries? We’d a been .500 this past year with Baker, Slowey, & Liriano still slinging it (pre-injury form) for the Twins. And that would make signing a top FA pitcher or other players a lot more likely to yield results (playoff appearances, playoff wins, etc)


    Because this is getting long…and I don’t have much knowledge on Bill Smith.

    I’ll just say, he was aggressive. Right or wrong. And he signed Miguel Sano. If Sano turns out to bop 40+ HR even just one season, I’ll call it a draw for Bill Smith. If he hits 40+ HR more than 4 seasons and posts Killebrew like career numbers, well Mr. Smith, you are a genius.
  4. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
    Great work. A lot of points that raise even more questions which is good. I'm also curious about your selection of pitchers for evaluating Anderson. At some point everything does get subjective. Pavano adored pitching to Butera so maybe Anderson can't take as much credit? I also think Liriano is a TBD until he repeats 2013 which all Twins fans know he won't. Dickey goes in the "Gardy=fail" column which I won't get into here. Scott Baker was pretty good here (injury confusion and departure aside) so mark one for Anderson.

    Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34
    I don’t see many of those ‘in-game’ adjustments coming from Anderson’s trips to the mound. I have to think that a pitching coach is more than “You got this champ” psychology.
    This is what it boils down to to me too. You feel like all Anderson ever says anymore is "attack this guy" or "be careful with this guy." Now that's not being completely fair, but results matter. There's no indication that Anderson really deeply studies his pitchers mechanics, studies subtle tendencies of the opposing lineup, can impart that knowledge during a game, or has any advanced insight on how pitchers really feel about their 2nd best pitches, on the pitcher-catcher relationship, on how a game develops, and so on. Some guys (Duncan, Maddox) seem to intuitively take it all in at a glance. You feel like when Anderson leaves the park after a game he just wants to go home and have a beer and not think about it. Lots of us can empathize with that. It's a hard job. Few of us here could do it. But there are people who know they can do it and haven't had the opportunity yet. Dick Such took a lot of heat but Kelly swore by him. But Kelly and Such also had those two rings. They were together about 15 years and they were done. Kelly had talked of burnout. We burn out at different rates. It's doing nobody any good to leave someone in a job they know they need a break from.
  5. spycake's Avatar
    Your Correia stat gymnastics aren't too interesting without context. How does he compare in this regard to other pitchers? That is, if the average starter's ERA improves by 0.6 if you throw out his worst innings, then Correia isn't that notable or unlucky. Also, if Correia has had this problem throughout his career, it's probably not due to luck either. (In fact, he may have been lucky in 2013 to avoid some big innings)

    Bill Smith's tenure started with two pretty awful moves (the Santana and Delmon Young deals), but he then did pretty well until the Capps trade and the second Hardy trade (and probably the Butera promotion too). At that point, it was looking pretty clear that he was thinking too much like Gardy or giving too much deference to Gardy in player acquisition matters. At least he was willing to take some risks with money and low-level prospects, though.
  6. Parker Hageman's Avatar
    SI did an article,Gleeman lit up a blog post about it, so Neyer called up Assistant GM Rob Antony...
    Small quibble: I did the interview with Rob Antony that revealed he was not familiar with the FIP statistic.

    Gleeman's write-up (here: http://aarongleeman.com/2010/04/01/s...ether-at-last/) was based on my March 2010 interview in Ft Myers (here: http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw.../88887222.html) which Rob Neyer then picked up. The remainder of the interview (including the FIP part) is at my former site OverTheBaggy which now redirects here.

    Again, small quibble but awesome stuff/thoughts.

    Thanks for posting here.
  7. Hugh Morris's Avatar
    Parker- That's terribly embarrassing. I apologize, you defintiely deserve credit for the interview and that's anything but a small quibble.

    First off, thanks for the compliments, to those of you whom it applies. Always nice to know that adding a night to the constantly ticking carpal tunnel clock was appreciated. Starting to address other comments

    Paul-I get the visceral reaction against Anderson. To an extent I've got it too, which is what inspired me to dig into things more.

    Spycake-Yes, more context would definitely be helpful. I'll update this (or perhaps post a thread) based on the results of what I've found. Given that grabbing 30 games worth of data for a pitcher based on these criteria isn't necessarily quick, are there any specific pitchers you'd like to see him compared to? Doing any sort of normalized comparison on the topic isn't feasible under my current constraints, so I'd welcome any pitchers you think would make helpful comps. BBref suggests Westbook as a similar pitcher, so he'll be included. Let me know if there's anyone else.

    beckmt-Fangraphs has his slider rate as being the highest it's been since he blew out his arm (not very far below it either). That's... troubling. I hope he figured out whatever has given him arm issues and he's going to be durable. I just wouldn't bet any cash on that.

    twinsfan34: NOW THAT is what I call meeting effort with effort. I loved the breakdowns you gave and appreciate your insight from your own past. Assigning cause to injuries is... difficult. Seems like every year a new team has found the way to resolve injury issues on pitching staffs-Texas started ignoring pitch counts and had a pretty healthy year. The following year was a disaster. Other organizations have emphasized non-throwing conditioning to seemingly random results. Dusty Baker's teams seem to favor lifting heavy boxes with a wrenching, jerking motion.

    Jokes aside-I think people could go for ages on assigning blame- debating between blaming player evaluation, MiLB coaching, MLB Pitching Coaches, Player Misreporting and random luck. The only exception is Dusty Baker. I think everyone can agree he's a coach with a body(arm?) count on his permanent record.

    It's perhaps an intellectual copout, but I have to say I simply don't think most human beings are built to throw a small, hard object over 90 MPH while adding deception or movement tens of thousands of times in our adult lives. Some people (Verlander) are the exceptions. I don't believe there's an effective way to identify those players before the first injury happens-but maybe the Rays will sustain their success and I'll buy that there's something to it.

    Regarding the various pitchers:
    Silva was sought after enough that Seattle decided to make a (at the time) pretty large commitment to bring him in, both dollars and years.
    Pavano hadn't had a productive season in the four before coming here, and even his time in Cleveland the season we traded for him was just barely on the rosy side of passable. I agree that he was a veteran by the time he arrived, but his last success came back in the NL (before Mauer's first full season, even)... I suppose that's more where things continue into subjective rankings, but something seemed to start "going right" for Pavano when he arrived in Minnesota and continued (though not as strongly) through his time here even as his age and injury history would hint at a decline.
    Boof is definitely granted-got lost as I was researching everyone else and forgot he'd lost his starters job even before he was sent away.
    Loshe I definitely struggle with. He is a person who very clearly struggled with maturity/impulse control issues and was worse than his time here for the first few years off the roster. Even after meeting up with Duncan and the Cards, Loshe had a good season, followed by an average one, a terrible one and an excellent one. Of course, he was also four years older by the end of that process and it may just be that time mellowed him. I've got him as a push but could be swayed either way.
    Garza I initially had as a push, I may have overcorrected when attempting to avoid my own bias.

    Perhaps Bonser ought to be grouped in with Albers, Diamond, and others that have seen a season of competent results coaxed out of them with skillsets that are charitably described as mediocre. Does Albers have the same "success" in Houston or Chicago or elsewhere as he did here? I don't know. But that is a category I wound up paying little attention to.

    With regards to in game adjustments, I can't pretend that my lipreading skills are good enough to have any idea of what he says. I also don't know what he prepares as far as a "book" for the battery on batter tendencies or any variety of other duties that are generally assigned to the pitching coach.

    Admitting that I have little actual knowledge to base this on, it strains credulity for me to believe that Anderson somehow kept his job while not being helpful to his pitchers on the mound and while not competently accomplishing the basic tasks one would usually assign a pitching coach. Even with Gardy's backing, this sort of consistent awfulness from the rotation combined with subpar performance on the tasks he can directly control would lead to a dismissal from any organization, even this one.
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