Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 7, 2005
BASEBALL: Mets Notebook

*If you've been following the team closely this season, of course, you'll know the answer to this one. But still: look at the following table and tell me which one of these players signed a $119 million contract before the season:


Answer below the fold. Yes, Beltran's had injuries. Yes, he's hit well in clutch situations. Yes, he's played wonderful defense and run the bases well. Still can't avoid the fact that the Mets are not in the position in the wild card race they'd be in if Beltran was hitting like Beltran.

*Kaz Matsui is really running well now, and actually starting to hit; he looks healthy and lively for the first time in more than a year. Too little, too late, although at least the Mets now have a reputable second baseman for a few weeks.

*Shingo Takatsu looks sort of like a Japanese Dennis Cook. And David Wright looks like he could have stepped out of an old black-and-white baseball photo from the 20s or 30s. With his compact frame, Wright is built sort of like Rogers Hornsby (of course, Hornsby was even better, younger than Wright, leading the league in slugging as a 21-year-old shortstop).

*Jeff Francouer really has to be the NL Rookie of the Year, doesn't he? So much for the historical unlikelihood of a late-arriving candidate.

I'll have to do a more careful player-by-player analysis, but it's clearly the rookies like Francouer who made the difference from the Opening Day roster that my EWSL projections rated as the weakest team in a strong NL East.

Player C is Beltran. A is Chris Woodward, B is Victor Diaz, D is Ramon Castro, and E is Doug Mientkiewicz.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:16 AM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

That's brave of you (get it?) to remind everyone of your preseason cellar-dweller pick for Atlanta. I'm not about to gloat, though, as that might stir the angry bball gods to send the Bravos into a September swoon. I find sabermetric-type analysis interesting and useful to a point, but past that point, don't you think it's sort of like agonizing over whether to take the Honda or the Toyota minivan around the corner to buy some milk (or some sort of simile like that, which I heard once)? Off topic a bit here, but I recall your piece a while back describing sabermetrics as an anti-idiotarian and even "conservative" (in so far as it is rational and practice-able by other than "elites") approach to baseball analysis. I guess it could be, but how do you explain wets like Dayn Perry, Will Carroll, Jay Jaffe, and any number of other Left-wits at BP? (I know, there's a difference between politics and baseball.) I guess the one thing that riles me most about sabermetric writers is that, very often, in their tone, they remind me of those smug lefty literary theorists who claim to be uncovering false assumptions and lies hidden in and by "the system" (man), while at the same time they've installed a new othodoxy that they will defend (often nastily) against any criticism because their beliefs have become a theology and defending the faith both validates their lives and serves the interests of their total careerism. (Compare the tone of BP writers with that of paper-givers at an MLA conference -- the defensive arrogance of both groups is matched only by their offensive arrogance.) I'm not dismissing sabermetics; I just wish it had some better champions (more guys like you, for instance!). I mean, I realize (and I bet Joe Morgan does, too) that the "baseball gods" don't really exist. But I also think there's a vast amount of luck and minutia involved in the game, so as to render things like VORP, etc., next to meaningless. Sure, the more knowledge the better, but there are also a lot of discussions about data in SABR land that are nothing more than tired, quasi-religious scholastic debates.

Posted by: VK Ratliff at September 7, 2005 9:23 AM

The main flaw in EWSL as a predictive model is that it can be thrown off by teams with a lot of production by guys with no major league track record, usually rookies. That's a systemic issue.

Sabermetrics is - or should - understand that predicting the future is all about probabilities, and probabilities are always subject to random chance.

As for left-leaning sabermetricians, I've always acknowledged that there was a broad array of political opinion in the sabermetric community. I think Perry is a libertarian, albeit a left-leaning one; Neyer, I suspect, is also a libertarian but something of a right-leaning one. Bill James himself is what you might describe as a conservative Democrat, although he defines himself more as an old-time liberal. The fact that the conservative movement and the sabermetric movement have a lot of overlap in their approaches and their, for lack of a better word, culture, doesn't mean the membership is all the same.

Posted by: The Crank at September 7, 2005 10:09 AM

Sitting through yet another NY Mets meltdown last night against Atlanta, I was reminded of their advertising and marketing campaign earlier this season: "Next year is now."

Convinced that their move to acquire top free agents Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran would produce "meaningful baseball games in September," the Metsies marketing campaign went into high gear (supplemented by boorish cheerleading on their broadcasts by Fran Healy, who seems totally detached from the grim reality of the Mets' situation).

Sadly, though, this team lacks any offense whatsoever and is dropping out of the race faster than Howard Dean disappeared from the Democratic primaries after his ill-timed yelp of joy.

All of which reinforces a basic marketing truism: you can launch an intense and sophisticated integrated marketing campaign to support a product or service and do everything right. But, if said product/service is flawed, it won't matter. The public knows a rotten product when it sees one. And I've seen one in Flushing.

Posted by: Steve Cody at September 7, 2005 1:48 PM
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