Thursday, October 12, 2006


So, it appears to a great degree I am preaching to the choir. I apparently didn't address the motive for my missive, however, so I'll get to that here.

I am tired of people talking about "What the Yankees need to do." It's actually driving me a little crazy. Yes, there is lots to be talking about when it comes to the Yankees loss, not the least of which is that Joe Torre, who appears to be keeping his job this week, batted the reigning AL MVP eighth in the order. Something tells me that might come back to haunt 'Ol Joe in the clubhouse next season, provided the Yankees don't trump Joe's lineup-making stupidity by trading the reigning AL MVP.

(Aside: There exists some fairly strong data to indicate that a team's batting order doesn't really matter all that much when it comes to a team's ability to create runs. I've read it, I understand it, I may even dig it up if I can find it again for free [it's membership content on the venerable Baseball Prospectus]. Allowing that, batting A-Rod in the eight-hole is one of the dumbest, most inexplicable moves I can remember a manager making with a batting order in some time. It reeked of spite on the part of Torre, which is supposedly the kind of emotion 'Ol Joe is incapable of. Plus, he's lauded for how he handles superstars, which is the hallmark of his tenure with the Yankees. So, I am at a complete loss to explain what the hell he was thinking.)

Getting back to the point ...

The Yankees, honestly, don't need to do much. Get some more/better pitching, maybe, but the same can be said about almost every team in the major leagues (Tigers excepted). Anyone saying this team needs to get rid of A-Rod is saying something incredibly stupid (unless a trade exists in which the Bombers get value for him, which would be hard to believe). Could they stand to get a little younger? Yes, but that's not something they need to do to avoid having another letdown in the playoffs again, it's something they need to do to ensure they are among baseball's elite for the foreseeable future.

Yet, the sports world has been flooded — until yesterday, of course — with talk of what the Yankees need to do to stop this horrendous streak of not-winning-the-World-Series. The local scribes in San Diego and Minnesota have probably been doing something along the same line. And while I have no problem with sports writers, obstensibly "experts" on teams they cover, suggesting moves, it's the basis of their argument(s) that concerns me. The Padres need to get better for next season, not for the playoff series that just concluded. Beyond the fact that nothing can be done to change that result of the now-concluded series, I posit that concerning oneself with the result of a five-game series over the result of an entire season — a season in which, if we're talking about the Padres, concluded with our Friars emerging as the second-best team in the (albeit AAAA-quality) NL — is illogical and usually leads people to make bad decisions that will actually end up hurting the franchise in the long run. And, no, I don't believe that men like Kevin Towers, or Brian Cashman, or Terry Ryan read the newspaper, take notes, and act on what the writers are telling them to do. But GMs often do feel the need to make fans happy, and if the fans believe the tortured logic of sports writers with respect to "What the Team Needs to Do," then GMs are caught in a position where actually doing what's best for the team may run against what's best for the team in terms of ticket sales and other vote-with-the-dollar issues. So, the net result of all this "What Should They Do?" handwringing that comes about after a playoff upset can often be a worse product the following season.

So, in essence, the reason I'm saying all this is because I think, honestly, that we spend way too much time obsessing over what happens in the playoffs, even though we all know — even those who conveniently forget it when it's time to fire off a post-mortem column — that what happens in the playoffs is often a poor reflection of what should have happened in the playoffs, or what would most often happen in the playoffs, and it's really those last two things that GMs can actually have some effect over. You set yourself up to have the best odds possible, with the understanding that once the playoffs begin, there's no telling what's really going to happen.

Some notes:

• This is not a sabermetric argument. I fail to see how that moniker even came into the discussion.

• Do you sound as shrill in your own head when you write about sabermetrics as you do in my head when I read what you write? Calm down, dude. Also, were there to be a sabermetric triple crown, it would not include both OBP and OPS, because OBP is half of what constitutes OPS. I won't take any more of the bait, since I assume that's all it was.

• I actually think the White Sox were the best team in the AL last season, and in turn the major leagues. I also think the only reason the Sox didn't have the best record in baseball, considering their surfeit of hitting and pitching talent, is because Ozzie Guillen insisted on creating outs in front of one of the most potent middles of the order in the major leagues. That said, I understand how my term "total crapshoot" can appear to be flat wrong. In retrospect, using the term "total" is in fact an example of overstatement. But if you figure the White Sox were, on average, a 70 percent favorite to win each individual series, they still only had a 35 percent chance of winning the World Series (the 70 percent number is for the purposes of making an example, and is not based on anything real). So, what I'm saying is that no matter how much better an individual team is than the rest of the field, it's still a statistical improbability that it will win the World Series, even if it is a pronounced favorite over each team it plays in the individual series.

• Why the shit can't Tommy Lasorda see that the guy in the tree has a Cubs jersey on?

• John Kruk on Baseball Tonight: "And the Tigers did it without the longball!" As he says this, there is a clip of Alexis Gomez (!) hitting a home run. John Kruk is an obese idiot.


St said...

All the Yankees need to do in the offseason is improve their starting pitching. Step 1: revoke their pilot licenses.

I thought sabermetrics came into the argument when you brought up Moneyball in the original post. I was going to use TPR instead of OBP, but I don't really know what TPR is. And I fail to see how I would be the one who sounds shrill talking about sabermetrics -- you're the one who regularly uses it as an excuse to call the entire baseball-covering world stupid and outdated.

And you leave John Kruk alone.

Diesel said...

Not all of Moneyball had to do with Sabermetrics, and Beane's playoff philosophy is an example of that.

I may call the entire baseball-covering world stupid and outdated, but I do so in sothing, bass-rich tones.