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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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Pierre Debate Isn't About Scouts vs. Stats
2006-11-22 08:24
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

The thing I continue to find curious about this recent debate on the value of Juan Pierre - and it's actually how I led my original post about the Pierre news - is that Dodger general manager Ned Colletti has clearly used stats to justify the signing of Pierre. Yes, Pierre is fast, but so is Asafa Powell. Yes, Pierre can bunt, but so can Brett Butler. Yes, Pierre is a good guy, but so am I.

These examples are not meant to be taken literally, but they do serve to illustrate the point that in order to find context for Pierre's skills, Colletti uses stats. When Colletti says Pierre gets on base an awful lot, it's not as if Colletti formed that image in his mind based on observation like Monet painting at Giverny. He looked at a stat. Stats are the information he uses to help him tell the difference between raw talent and useful ability. And as others have said, Colletti simply seems to value different stats than many of the people who comment here.

Of course, Colletti uses scouts, too. And for that matter, he notes Pierre's personality. He uses it all And guess what - I actually am aware of Pierre's speed and his bunting ability, and fully believe that Pierre is a dedicated and wonderful human being, and realize that those are cool things for Pierre to have going for him rather than being clumsy, slow and selfish.

But I don't think that the Pierre signing is the poster child for the scouts vs. stats argument. The argument is quite simply about what you choose to prioritize from Column A and Column B. And with this signing, however much money he has to spend, Colletti shows that he seems to priortize different things than I would recommend.

I think it's telling that in a number of instances, people all over the country have cited stats to support the Pierre signing, and people all over the country have cited anecdotal observation to criticize it. If we get lost in scouts vs. stats, we're going down the wrong path. We know there's room for both. We know it.

But there is room to improve the discussion nonetheless. And, for example, when the Times runs a chart in Tuesday's paper with Pierre's career statistics and lists batting average in the absence of the widely comprehended on-base percentage (let alone slugging percentage or OPS or VORP or XFSDLKFJLK), there is objectively still work to be done, no matter what your priorities are in a ballplayer. Judging a hitter based on batting average would be like me judging a player's speed by watching how fast his arms move when he runs.

Honestly, if it didn't hold nostalgic value for me, if the ethereal sensation of a .300 hitter didn't have a magical hold on me like madelines for Proust, I would call for an all-out ban on the mention of batting average - I'm talking Big Brother censorship, burning of batting average lists in the town square and tar-and-feathering those who dare mention it.

The more I think about it, the more I think the pure pleasure so many people have in talking about batting average must key the resistance to abandoning it.

But banning batting average is neither necessary nor fun. We can enjoy batting average, as unhealthy as it is, just for the taste - like a double cheeseburger, rather than as part of a nutritious diet.

So here's my offer. I affirm - I reaffirm, actually - that observation and scouting have their place in a personnel decision. In exchange, the people who don't need to be reminded of this acknowledge they all use stats in some fashion to evaluate major league ballplayers, and simply pledge to be open to using more useful ones than they were raised upon.

Let's agree on that, and we can work out what gets more weight later.

Comments (181)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-11-22 08:30:55
1.   underdog
I'm a big XFSDLKFJLK guy myself.

I was actually now at peace with the Pierre signing, feeling fine with it even, until I read that Cub fan's write-up in previous thread. Then I felt depressed. Then I remembered, wait, we still have all these young guys that I like very much, and whatever Pierre does, these kids should hopefully be around to contribute and enjoy, too.

2006-11-22 08:32:33
2.   underdog
Btw, this is off the subject but, wow, cool, in the UCSB vs. SD State b-ball game next weekend, the teams are a combined 10-0. Too bad ESPN could care less.
2006-11-22 08:35:45
3.   Jon Weisman
2 - For some reason, your comment reminded me that I wanted to mention this: here are the point totals for the Cal State Northridge basketball team in each of its past three games.

159
95
44

I'd bet that range is unprecedented.

2006-11-22 08:37:00
4.   Vishal
batting average is also especially meaningless for a leadoff hitter in the national league. and especially when the average is made up of all singles, like with pierre.

pierre really should bat 8th or 9th. but he won't.

2006-11-22 08:50:50
5.   underdog
3 Wow. Yeah, I just saw that. Incredible. Of course, I guess it also shows there's a difference between Redlands and Illinois St.
2006-11-22 08:56:05
6.   ToyCannon
I completely fail to see the logic in 4 when saying a singles hitter is meaningless in the leadoff spot when the singles hitter in question will steal 2nd at least 20% of the time he reaches base. The goal of the leadoff hitter is to put himself into a position to score runs. Pierre does that quite well. Izzy was a terrible baserunner and so he should have been hitting 8th but it would be pretty useless to have your 8 hitter, single, steal 2nd, watch your pitcher bunt you to 3rd and then see your leadoff hitter make the last out. Pierre gets on base enough at a 330 clip that combined with his baserunning ability to be legitimate leadoff hitter.
2006-11-22 09:00:02
7.   dzzrtRatt
Is there an adjusted OPS that:

--Counts every single/walk/HBP + stolen base as a double, and;

--Counts every single/walk/HBP + caught stealing as an out?

That would seem like a more objective way of analyzing a player like Pierre.

2006-11-22 09:02:18
8.   the count
6 Regardless of salary and contract, I don't see how a .330 clip is enough for a leadof hitter. I just don't think that slightly below average on base skills is good enough for the leadoff spot.
2006-11-22 09:02:46
9.   FirstMohican
6 - "Pierre gets on base enough at a 330 clip that combined with his baserunning ability to be legitimate leadoff hitter."

I don't know at what point you call someone "legitimate", but out of all players who hit leadoff and had 350 min PA's, Pierre is 22nd out of 28. Thanks to ESPN (or any other stat database that allows for discovering these basic stats in less than 30 seconds).

But, you know, Pierre is FAST.

2006-11-22 09:05:27
10.   FirstMohican
7 - For ever CS take away a hit, and for every SB make a hit a double.

And as everyone knows, we should take about .050 OPS away from the hitter behind him, because about that much is due to the distraction that the rabbit causes the pitcher which is why the #2 hitter hits the way he does. (That, actually, is only half sarcastic.)

2006-11-22 09:06:16
11.   Vishal
[6] i'm not saying that a singles hitter is meaningless, i'm saying his batting average number is meaningless if he doesn't walk. as jon was suggesting in his post, it's OBP and not average that matters. who cares if he hits .300 if his OBP is only .330? yeah, the stolen bases mitigate against that a little (or conversely, help him "maximize" his singles), but i don't care if he gets 200 hits if they're all singles with nobody on base. that's not a magic number, because a hit and a walk has exactly the same value in that case. in fact, a walk has arguably more value because it likely took more pitches to get the walk (at least 4).
2006-11-22 09:06:55
12.   Warren
Well said Jon.
2006-11-22 09:07:02
13.   Jon Weisman
7 - I would assume EQA covers that.
2006-11-22 09:07:39
14.   dzzrtRatt
10 Yeah, that's what I'm suggesting exactly. But has anyone ever run that number for Pierre or any other player whose game is allegedly built on speed?
2006-11-22 09:09:54
15.   dan reines
Yes, Pierre is a good guy, but so am I.

Boy oh boy, talk about arrogant statheads...

(I'm kidding. I'M KIDDING!)

Okay, here's a question for the folks who are more up on the newer stats than I am: Is there a way of measuring the effect a guy like Pierre has on the pitcher once he's on base? I mean, we hear announcers talk about it all the time -- "Pierre's gonna distract the pitcher..." etc. Has anyone established whether or not having a base-stealing threat on base affects a pitcher's performance, and if so, how much? Like, I mean, maybe all those throws down to first base wear on the arm like a couple extra pitches? (Just thinking out loud here.)

Just curious.

2006-11-22 09:10:20
16.   Vishal
[10] what about all the times when the next hitter is distracted by the runner? or tries to swing at a bad pitch on a hit-and-run, or swings to "protect" the runner?
2006-11-22 09:11:57
17.   FirstMohican
14 - I'm sure of it
2006-11-22 09:16:05
18.   FirstMohican
16: "what about all the times when the next hitter is distracted by the runner?"

10: "And as everyone knows, we should take about .050 OPS away from the hitter behind him, because about that much is due to the distraction that the rabbit causes the pitcher which is why the #2 hitter hits the way he does."

16: "or tries to swing at a bad pitch on a hit-and-run, or swings to "protect" the runner? "

You can A) discount the "distraction factor", B) do some study on how often #2 hitters do what you mentioned and make assumptions on its impact, or C) not blame the leadoff hitter for what the #2 hitter is doing.

2006-11-22 09:17:33
19.   markp
Bill James studied the effect of basestealing threats on #2 hitters. Contrary to what every announcer has been telling us since the early days of radio, hitters do worse with SB guys hitting ahead of them.
I had suspected that would be the result before I read it-the hitter has to take pitches to give the runner a chance, so he's often hitting behind in the count.
2006-11-22 09:17:38
20.   dzzrtRatt
7 If that's the case, then Pierre's speed only serves to bring a bad hitter up to "sub-par." Oy.
2006-11-22 09:20:27
21.   bhsportsguy
4 Here are the top 12 batters who had over 400 plate appearances batting in the leadoff spot in the NL in 2006.

Rafael Furcal LA - .303/.372/.451 ($13M in 2007)
Jose Reyes - .301/.354/.489 (~$2.5M)
Jamey Carroll - .299/.372/.407 (~$1M)
Juan Pierre - .294/.333/.392 ($9M reported)
David Eckstein - .294/.351/.347 ($4.5M)
Alfonso Soriano - .294/.368/.588 ($17M)
Hanley Ramirez - .294/.358/.484 ($400K)
Dave Roberts - .294/.359/.395 (FA)
Jimmy Rollins - .281/.338/.484 ($8M)
Ryan Freel - .268/.359/.399 ($2M)
Randy Winn - .263/.325/.403 ($7M)
Marcus Giles - .251/.334/.361 (~$4-4.5M)

Now I could have listed them by OBP or OPS but I used BA instead.

Also remember this about examining Pierre, he played for one of the worst offenses in the majors last year and whether or not you this is fair or not, his lack of power meant that he was dependent on his teammates to drive him in and only Ramirez was there everyday to do so.

Furcal, Reyes, Rollins and Ramirez all scored more runs but they had good offenses (except maybe Ramirez who had Miggy Cabera and a cast of unknowns).

2006-11-22 09:20:40
22.   Vishal
[19] that's interesting. i was just trying to bring up a "devil's advocate"-type counterargument to the people who say a speedster distracts the pitcher, thereby benefiting the next hitter.
2006-11-22 09:23:41
23.   screwballin
15

This is from a Joe Sheehan article on BP in 2004. The article was an analysis of when it actually makes sense to steal:

The vaunted secondary effects of stealing bases--distracting the pitcher, putting pressure on the defense--do not appear to exist. In fact, most secondary effects argue in favor of keeping the runner of first base. A runner on first is more disruptive to a defense, with the first baseman holding and the second baseman cheating towards second for a double play, than a runner on second. Additionally, studies show that stolen-base attempts negatively impact the performance of the batter at the plate, presumably due to hitters getting themselves into negative counts by taking pitches or swinging at bad balls to protect the runner.

While you can use stealing bases to assist in run scoring, you can't run your way into a good offense. The core elements of offense are getting on base and advancing runners on hits. Teams--more often managers--that announce plans to create more runs by stealing bases are usually saying, "we can't hit, and we hope that if we move around a lot, no one will notice."

http://tinyurl.com/ufvo4

2006-11-22 09:27:06
24.   Greg Brock
All I know is that if we start running into a buch of outs in the interest of playing "small ball" (ala the Halos), I am going to lose my mind.

Stolen bases are exciting. But so are car chases. It's the crashing and burning that makes me sad.

2006-11-22 09:28:20
25.   FirstMohican
7 - Pierre is 21/28 in 2006 OPS among #1 hitters w/ 350+ PAs. Pierre is 16/28 if you add SB-CS to total bases then calc OPS.
2006-11-22 09:28:44
26.   dan reines
Reason number 8,540 to like Dodger Thoughts: You can ask it almost any question and get an answer within minutes. It's like having a really, really well-informed butler.
2006-11-22 09:29:35
27.   still bevens
26 Oh man I wish. I didnt make my bed this morning and I'd like for someone to take care of that. Who wants it? I live in Culver City. =)
2006-11-22 09:30:13
28.   Greg Brock
26 By the way, the Rolls Royce is waxed and your tuxedo is back from the cleaners.

If you need me, I'll be pruning the roses, Sir.

2006-11-22 09:32:44
29.   Vishal
[25] wow, you added all 28 guys' SB totals, recalculated OPS, and re-ranked them just now? that is service. i'm impressed.
2006-11-22 09:33:45
30.   Jon Weisman
26 - I love it.
2006-11-22 09:34:02
31.   Jon Weisman
Vishal, are you in China? How's it going?
2006-11-22 09:34:24
32.   Sharkie
I agree that this isn't about Scouts vs Stats. Everyone in reality uses both.

There is one point that needs to be made about the anti-statheads, and another group of people like Colletti. I'm saying this as a person that values both scouts and stats.

Anti-statheads go and say stats don't measure XYZ. Then they eventually say stuff like Pierre gets 200 hits (and therefore get on base alot) and is a .300 hitter. This is self-incriminating. The minute a person uses a stat, then that peson is a stathead.

I view "modern" baseball stats like modern medicine. Do we want to continue to use blood letting as a medical treatment for cancer? No! Don't you want your doctor to use the latest, most effective technology and innovations if you get sick? Of course!

At the same time, qualitative scouting is also important. We need to know some stuff like mechanics, personality (disorders), etc. Then put the package together.

So the question is, why is it so hard for someone like Colletti to use his scouts AND modern stats that will help him make better decisions?

2006-11-22 09:34:47
33.   bhsportsguy
And I agree with Jon, we all use stats to back up our opinions it just depends which ones you use and which ones you ignore.

I try to be fair using different analysis and straight numbers.

BTW - when I pulled the stats for the post above, I realized that David Eckstein must have done a lot of good in an earlier life because I could not believe the numbers.

I did a little more digging and found that David Eckstein was tied for 152nd place out of 157 batters with 250 or more PAs with 23 RBI. He was last with players with up to 350 PAs. Eckstein, no doubt a manager's favorite, a good clubhouse guy, a media darling but there is a reason why after a few years, baseball people will look and think we could do better.

2006-11-22 09:35:23
34.   dan reines
24 - I mentioned this about a week back during the Drew Fallout, but your comment about steals brings my mind right back there. I still say that the "stathead vs. scouts" debate, in some sense, anyway, really does come down to drama, or as Jon put it, cinema.

I'll admit I love stolen bases. I fully concede that a runner with a lousy SB% should just stay put. But there's something fantastic about the looming threat, then execution, of a steal. With nobody on, I'd much rather see my guy walk, then steal second, than see him hit a double. It's one of those things that make baseball fun to watch. For me, anyway.

2006-11-22 09:35:30
35.   Steve
And in related news, the sun rose in the east this morning. Analysts suggest it will set in the west at sunset.
2006-11-22 09:35:47
36.   FirstMohican
29 - That was a little harsh man. I was just answering a question, thanks.
2006-11-22 09:37:02
37.   FirstMohican
36 - Wait, I may have misinterpreted your comment. It came off as condescending and sarcastic the first read, but maybe less so the 2nd. I apologize if I misread.
2006-11-22 09:39:04
38.   FirstMohican
29 - First, sorry this is 3 comments instead of one, but if you're not being sarcastic: I pasted ESPN's result of the OPS into excel then added 1 column then resorted. Took longer to open excel than to do the rest.
2006-11-22 09:39:11
39.   Jon Weisman
37 - It read sincere to me.
2006-11-22 09:41:16
40.   Greg Brock
34 I get it. Trust me, the excitement of a stolen base is really...er...exciting (note to self: think of better sentences).

If a player can swipe bags at an 80% clip, by all means, go for it. If not, the fact is that you are hurting your club.

I've laughed at how the Angels have shot themselves in the foot so many times for two years. And now I fear that we are going to emulate that formula.

But yes, it will be exciting...In a "cringe and cover your eyes until it works or doesn't" type way. And that's fun...

2006-11-22 09:41:51
41.   Vishal
[31] yes, i'm still here till january! it's going well enough, but i've been hampered by various sicknesses for most of the past month. i think i ate something bad several weeks ago, and then that weakened my system, opening the door for a persistent chest cold to settle in, and i'm still coughing up phlegm.

but other than that, things are going well. my studies are getting busy now, but i'm trying to get out and see the sights too. i visited sichuan province this past weekend, and saw lots of temples and shrines, as well as some pandas at the chengdu panda research base, and i had some great spicy food. i'm having a good time here, all in all :)

2006-11-22 09:42:22
42.   ToyCannon
23
Everytime I read that arguement I always remember one game in 2004 when Dave Roberts got on base 3 times, stole 2nd 3 times, was moved to 3b by something and then scored on groundball outs. I believe it was against the Giants and I believe they were the only runs scored by the Dodgers that game.
2006-11-22 09:44:40
43.   bhsportsguy
33 I know that Pierre did not drive in that many either but really 23 RBIs with over 500 plate appearances. Ramon Martinez drove in 24 in less than 200 PAs.
2006-11-22 09:44:48
44.   Greg Brock
41 Hey, what's up with SARS?

That thing had a worse career trajectory than Kevin Maas.

Not even relevant anymore!

2006-11-22 09:45:58
45.   ToyCannon
Juan Pierre blows and I hate defending him but if I don't my winter will be one of discontent.
2006-11-22 09:46:10
46.   Greg Brock
42 Somebody is going to say something about sample size...

One game does not an argument make. But I remember that game too! It was cool!

2006-11-22 09:46:15
47.   Vishal
[38] nah, i wasn't being sarcastic at all! i figured it involved some pasting of stuff into excel but that's still more effort than i would've put into it. still, didn't you have to write a quick formula to recalculate OPS with net stolen bases added into total bases?

anyway, it really is nice that people such as yourself are generous enough with their time and energies to look into things like that for the rest of us.

2006-11-22 09:46:41
48.   screwballin
26 There's apparently more in a book called "THE BOOK - Playing The Percentages In Baseball" that deals with how the base stealer distracts the hitter more than the pitcher. I don't have the book or any excerpts, but it's alluded to in the article.
2006-11-22 09:47:34
49.   ToyCannon
43
Ah come on, it is not his fault if Marquis drove in all the runs before his at bats.
2006-11-22 09:48:25
50.   bhsportsguy
The Dodgers still have 3 open 40 man spots on their roster. Unlike ESPN.com, Dodgers.com does not have Juan Pierre on their roster.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-11-22 09:48:48
51.   ToyCannon
46
That was my point. It was cool to watch. Every game defies the logic of the cumulative season.
2006-11-22 09:49:15
52.   bhsportsguy
C'mon, coolest thing ever, Mariano Duncan's bunt doubles. Nothing comes close.
2006-11-22 09:49:27
53.   OaklandAs
7 The problem with correcting OPS that way is that those situations are not equal. A Single+SB has the same run-scoring potential as a double, but much less RBI potential. And a Single+CS has the same run-scoring potential as an out, but much more RBI potential. Modifying OPS in that way just leads to a modified stat which correlates worse to true team Runs Scored than regular OPS.

If you want to accurately value SB and CS, you probably need to use more sophisticated stats than OPS - something like Runs Created, for example. Since you need to open a spreadsheet to modify OPS, you may as well use a better stat.

2006-11-22 09:49:32
54.   Vishal
[44] yeah, that's not really talked about here. i think they've managed to contain it, more or less.
2006-11-22 09:50:10
55.   Greg Brock
51 There is only one solution. In the interest of objective analysis, none of us should watch the team play anymore.

We can all just drive around the stadium during the game like Billy Beane!

2006-11-22 09:51:46
56.   FirstMohican
47 - It really took less than a minute. My minutes are aplenty.
2006-11-22 09:54:11
57.   Tangled Up in Blue
Now that we have two leadoff hitters where do we put them in the order. Do you keep Furcal in the leadoff spot or move him to the 2 hole?

Here is another one. Duran Duran is neither Duran nor Duran. Discuss.

2006-11-22 09:57:36
58.   bhsportsguy
49 Hey Zambrano could have drove in all the runs before Juan batted too.
2006-11-22 09:58:28
59.   Daniel Zappala
Two things that seem to have been overlooked:

(1) A leadoff hitter only hits with nobody on in the first inning. There are other innings where that hit is more valuable than a walk.

(2) Given two players with equal .350 OBP, the one who gets that from 80% singles and 20% walks is inherently less valuable than one who does it with 90% singles and 10% walks. Those singles usually advance runners two bases, rather than just one.

Of course, the player with a .350 OBP is always better than the one with a .330 OBP. And I'm not arguing that JP is good at getting on base.

2006-11-22 09:58:34
60.   FirstMohican
55 - I already do that for the first two innings.
2006-11-22 10:01:20
61.   JoeyP
Furcal's SB's will probably go down with Juan Pierre hitting behind him. I say this bc Pierre should get a ton of fastballs, since pitchers know he doesnt have any power.

I think Pierre should bat 8th. But he wont. So making the best out of a bad situation...I'd leadoff Pierre and have Furcal bat 2nd.

2006-11-22 10:01:36
62.   Daniel Zappala
59 I forgot to add that this line of thinking indicates that batting average is not entirely worthless. It is good to get hits.
2006-11-22 10:02:07
63.   blue22
Rosenthal is reporting Matthews to the Angels for 5/$50M.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6198342

I'll take the Pierre deal over this one I think. Matthews screams "regression to the mean!" to me.

2006-11-22 10:03:16
64.   Blaine
OK, which would you rather have: Pierre at 5/45 or Matthews Jr. at 5/50 which is what ESPN radio is reporting that the Angels have done?
2006-11-22 10:03:32
65.   JoeyP
If they are serious about Furcal in the 3-spot...

Pierre
Martin
Furcal
Kent
Nomar
Ethier
Betemit
Loney

That'd be interesting. Maybe Betemit will hit 45HRs this year. That'll save us.

2006-11-22 10:03:34
66.   Steve
But if Matthews just regresses to Pierre, what's the difference?
2006-11-22 10:04:38
67.   screwballin
42 I think your memory says a lot about the SB debate. People remember a great game like that but forget the times a CS led to a loss. It's only natural to remember the more thrilling moments, and those color our perspective more than the bad ones.
2006-11-22 10:05:20
68.   Greg Brock
Yeah, all things considered, I'd take Matthews.
2006-11-22 10:07:41
69.   Greg Brock
Giving Gary Matthews 50 million is Anne Heche crazy.

Giving Juan Pierre 45 million is Manson crazy.

2006-11-22 10:08:35
70.   Tangled Up in Blue
Pierre is a contact hitter and would force the action more in the 2 slot (hit and run, bunting, etc). Plus Furcal gets on base more and can steal bases.

It could go both ways. I like Furcal's power in the 2 slot as well.

2006-11-22 10:10:09
71.   Rob M
The real problem with the stats v. scouts debate is that the anit-stat guys are just saying "don't use stats that make me think, just use the ones that have a warm familiar ring to them." .300, 100 rbi, 20 wins, 50 sb - you get the picture. If it was good enough for my grandpappy, it's good enough for me.

What kills me is not that I encounter this attitude in barroom conversations, but that there are actually professionals that get paid lots of money to run teams that still think this way.

2006-11-22 10:16:06
72.   Tangled Up in Blue
I think Colletti and Little will keep the "table setters" in the 1 and 2 slots in the order. It will be interesting to see who goes where.

I think that if they are moving to more of a traditionalist type of baseball they would hit Pierre 2nd because he gives you more options because he consistently puts the ball in play.

I can't believe I am writing this.

2006-11-22 10:17:22
73.   Tangled Up in Blue
Matthews got 5/50. WOW! I am sure Gary will now have to send Juan a gift basket.
2006-11-22 10:20:19
74.   Steve
To go one step further, eyeballing it suggests that perhaps a Regressed Gary Matthews is better than Juan Pierre, though Everybody Hates Regression. But I pose the point as mere academic theory, because I suspect that Gary Matthews sucks.
2006-11-22 10:26:14
75.   Jonny6
The scouts vs stats debate is centered around how to evaluate players, and their worth on the field. Both types of evaluation are obviously useful for making personnel decisions, and I have no problem with saying that the sabermetric method can lead to improved decision-making ability. My only (or at least primary) gripe is when people act like these decisions are made in a vacuum like picking players for fantasy baseball or a rotisserie league. I can't be sure, but I would guess that Colletti didn't go into this off-season with Pierre as number one on his wish list. But other things have to be taken into account, such as who is available, where your team's weaknesses are, and the negotiations process. Colletti's needs changed considerably when Drew opted out of his contract. That problem may have been Colletti's fault or Drew could have completely misrespresented his intentions, who really knows, but either way it changed the course of this off-season.

Now, I realize that despite these changes, that most people here would not have signed Pierre under any circumstances. Colletti made a different decision. It may work out or it could end up being a Kevin Brown like albatross. Both sides can argue their point regarding how to evaluate Pierre, but the reality is no matter how a GM prefers to evaluate players they have to balance that with who they can get, who they can afford, and what area they need most.

This was the crux of my argument when DePodesta was the GM, and people were overly confident of his imminent success because of the way he evaluated players - that's only the starting point. You still have to be able to deal with the human element of signing players, trading with other GM's, etc., etc. and it was in these areas that I suspected DePo would be less successful.

It doesn't mean that I don't see the value in stats, it just means that I can understand that being a GM is complicated business and you rarely get to sign your ideal players. All that said, I don't think the Pierre signing was a great idea, but I can see how Colletti viewed it as a move that would benefit this team.

2006-11-22 10:29:37
76.   bhsportsguy
.263/.336/.419 career numbers including 2006. Matthews is 32 years old, 2006 is best season in his career.

Again, if the Angels get the 2006 version for the next 3 years, okay but now it appears that Figgins is going to play 3B with Kendrick playing 2B.

2006-11-22 10:31:22
77.   bhsportsguy
Again, 3 years may not mean a lot but what is the chance that there will be a market for 31-32 year old center fielder with 2 years left on his contract versus a 35-36 year old CF.
2006-11-22 10:32:21
78.   bhsportsguy
76 Unless this deal is a prelude for trading Figgins.
2006-11-22 10:46:36
79.   Jonny6
On a completely different topic, what's with guys like Soriano and Lee not wanting to play for a west coast team. Do they understand that Chicago in April is cold and miserable and that LA is likely to be 70 degrees? Shouldn't being on the west coast be a good thing?
2006-11-22 10:48:55
80.   Greg Brock
79 I know that in a few cases (Javier Vasquez, Carlos Delgado) proximity to their home country plays a part in it.

Don't know about Soriano and Lee.

2006-11-22 10:53:31
81.   FirstMohican
79 - This might have something to do w/ it:

LA to DR ~9 Hr flight (layover)
NY to DR ~4 Hr flight (nonstop)

I would show the duration from Florida, but that's pointless.

2006-11-22 10:55:05
82.   Daniel Zappala
78 I'm definitely expecting Figgins to be traded. Maicer Izturis has shown he can handle the infield capably and is probably a better hitter too. I have heard in the past about a Figgins for Crede trade, which I would love the Angels to make.

Stoneman has pledged to be active this offseason, so I expect more from the Angels.

2006-11-22 10:55:47
83.   DodgerHobbit
74 I think that is more than a stretch. Pierre has been more productive than Matthews over their careers, even with Matthews fluke of a season.

Matthews power comes from the field at Arlington, which is the new Coors. That power would disappear in the NL west. This would make Matthews a less durable Pierre that not only cannot get on base as well as Pierre, but cannot steal if he does get on.

Matthews has only out OBP'd Pierre twice in his career. One of those years being 2002 which consisted of less than 350 ab's. The other his uncharacteristic career year of 2006.

Matthews steal rate is garbage. He shouldn't run at all.

Matthews is less durable. Making the length of the contract for a person older than Pierre with a history of lingering injuries more of a risk than with Pierre.

2006-11-22 11:01:09
84.   Steve
1) Your reference to the NL West leads me to believe that you believe that I think the Dodgers should have signed Gary Matthews over Juan Pierre. That is a false assumption.

2) The rest is self-evident. If Juan Pierre is in the same conversation as Gary Matthews, that says more about both of them than any argument that can be constructed about either of them. They are comparable. Whether one is theoretically better than the other is completely beside the point.

2006-11-22 11:02:04
85.   FirstMohican
83 - "Matthews is less durable. Making the length of the contract for a person older than Pierre with a history of lingering injuries more of a risk than with Pierre."

I thought it was generally accepted here that players of this calibur on the disabled list was not necessarily a bad thing.

2006-11-22 11:05:58
86.   KG16
69 - which Manson: Marilyn or Charles?
2006-11-22 11:06:17
87.   DodgerHobbit
83 sorry for the hyperbole regarding matthews steal rate.
2006-11-22 11:08:21
88.   Steve
Matthews' steal rate is garbage and he shouldn't run at all. The hyperbolic part is the assertion that it matters.
2006-11-22 11:09:05
89.   Greg Brock
86 I leave that up to you...
2006-11-22 11:11:16
90.   Greg Brock
Steal Rates:

80%= Awesome, run all the time
75%= Well, if you must...

Below 75%= Dont run, ever.

2006-11-22 11:15:57
91.   Daniel Zappala
Just based on the last three years of stats, Matthews hitting looks a lot better. That could be the park effects of Arlington, so feel free to add park-adjusted stats. But my initial impression is that I like Matthews better.
2006-11-22 11:16:20
92.   Jon Weisman
90 - No levels in that last category. Nothing worse than "Don't run, ever" to cover Oscar Robles?
2006-11-22 11:19:28
93.   Greg Brock
92 Oscar Robles attempting to steal is covered in the Patriot Act.

Something about habeas corpus...

2006-11-22 11:20:18
94.   Steve
You've got the corpus part right.
2006-11-22 11:27:51
95.   bigcpa
We can speculate that scouts told Bill Stoneman that Gary Matthews Jr made certain adjustments at the plate in 2006 that explain his first and only .300 season. Didn't we hear the same rationale for acquiring Hendrickson and his mirage 3.60 ERA? Matthews Jr. had a .349 BABIP this year vs. .283 last year.

Anyone who chooses to ignore such clear evidence of a likely aberration in performance isn't helping "improve the discussion." If someone handed me a scouting report that said Matthews Jr got Lasiks, switched to a lighter bat and put on 20 lbs of muscle- I would take that into consideration. Still in my mind the performance data is proportionally more valuable in predicting future outcomes. We know the qualitative stuff makes for better copy and seems to be what casual fans want to digest. What's depressing is when management seems to make what appear to be faith-based personnel decisions (i.e. paying for intangibles or small samples).

2006-11-22 11:30:00
96.   Steve
Bill Stoneman doesn't listen to his scouts, he listens to his statheads. Everyone knows that.
2006-11-22 11:34:43
97.   DodgerHobbit
84 1) To be clear, what i was addressing was your statement that a regressed Matthews is a better player than Juan Pierre.

My basic statement is that regressing Matthews is unecessary, Pierre is already a better player than Matthews.

2) Any 2 baseball players of any given era are comparable. That doesn't make the comparison insightful. For example I can say quite easily that Albert Pujols is a more productive hitter than Dontrelle Willis. I just put them both in the same sentence, yet the statement is just a tiny bit above worthless. As far as the Pierre/Matthews comparison, you begged the comparison, then hold up my reply as proof that the comparison is legit. Yet my post was dismissive of your assertion, not taking it seriously. I just chose to back it up with numbers.

1) My bringing up the NL west was only to illustrate how dependant Matthews HR .SLG and OPS is to where he plays. the NL west happens to be the division that would hurt Matthews inflated power line the most. I never made an argument regarding who would have been a better sign.

2006-11-22 11:36:04
98.   Terry A
96 - Darin Erstad must have known a really dark secret about one (or more) of those statheads.
2006-11-22 11:36:54
99.   DodgerHobbit
88 it really doesn't since he doesn't run too much.
2006-11-22 11:40:20
100.   bigcpa
I couldn't make this up. Matthews Jr closest comps through age 31:

1) Michael Tucker
2) Oddibe McDowell
3) Todd Hollandsworth

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-11-22 11:42:30
101.   Greg Brock
Except that unlike Oddibe McDowell, Gary Matthews not end up in EVERY SINGLE PACK OF CARDS I ever bought as a youth.
2006-11-22 11:43:47
102.   DodgerHobbit
85 I don't believe he is that caliber of player
I just think his 06 is a complete fluke, but if you see him as a late bloomer that will have a few more .313 .371 .495 seasons than yeah, the durability matters less.
2006-11-22 11:44:53
103.   Terry A
101 - I'll trade you 25 Rusty Staubs for 25 Oddibe McDowells.
2006-11-22 11:45:38
104.   jakewoods
the dodgers need power. not another leadoff man who just hits singles and has an arm like a little girl
2006-11-22 11:46:51
105.   bigcpa
Yeah somehow I got 1 '84 Olympic Team McGwire rookie with a gumstain and 11 mint Oddibe's. I'm not alone!
2006-11-22 11:46:52
106.   Greg Brock
103 If you throw in a Rance Mulliniks and two Larry Parish cards, you've got a deal.
2006-11-22 11:48:38
107.   Steve
I will concede most of your points. If there is a comparison to be made, the foundation has not been laid for it. Juan Pierre must rise and fall on his own merits, and I have taken us down a diverting path.
2006-11-22 11:48:59
108.   Terry A
105 - mmmmmmmm... Mint Oddibes...

106 - I'm gonna need at least a Ken Oberkfell back to make that happen.

2006-11-22 11:49:35
109.   DodgerHobbit
101 i think i have a few Oddibe 1985 topps card somewhere deep deep in a box in the garage somewhere.
Begged my dad to buy 5 boxes of 1985 cards because of all the good rookies...he wouldn't spring for the $30 boxes lol. 6 years later he started collecting himself. Just in time to amass some Pedro cards a year or two later. I was done at that point. Too many brands, more expensive, less cards per pack...so many series....and no more gum.
2006-11-22 11:52:20
110.   Greg Brock
108 Deal.

But I want future considerations on any Ozzie Virgils that come your way.

2006-11-22 11:56:08
111.   Xeifrank
To me comparing the Juan Pierre to Gary Matthews on ability and on the type of contracts they got is alot like comparing a strep throat to a tooth-ache. Can't they both just go away! :) vr, Xei
2006-11-22 11:56:35
112.   chris in illinois
I've got at least 62 1979 Topps Rob Picciolos that I could swap.....plus a Bump Wills 'error' card.
2006-11-22 11:57:01
113.   Jon Weisman
I love the Oddibe McDowell references.
2006-11-22 12:01:01
114.   Greg Brock
Is the error that Bump Willis actually had a baseball card?
2006-11-22 12:01:20
115.   bigcpa
I picked up the Bill Ripken "Fxxx Face" card for a mere $15 a few years ago. Such a deal!
2006-11-22 12:04:52
116.   DodgerHobbit
106 1984 topps....i would get so angry when i saw juan eichelberger's face in a freshly opened pack of cards.
2006-11-22 12:07:09
117.   DodgerHobbit
115 I was in Jr. High and had one, a kid temporarily stole it from me. I got it back the same day with nobody hitting anybody thankfully.
2006-11-22 12:07:22
118.   Terry A
Bump! My brother and I laughed so much because on his card, Bump always looked like he was having a BM.

That was about two weeks ago. But it's still funny today.

2006-11-22 12:07:36
119.   Greg Brock
All time baseball card enemies:

Rance Mulliniks
Oddibe McDowell
Ozzie Virgil
Larry Parrish
Melido Perez/Pascual Perez
Bo Diaz (RIP, Sorry about that satellite dish)
Atlee Hammacker
Ken Oberkfell
Al Nipper

2006-11-22 12:08:35
120.   DodgerHobbit
111 I'll drink to that after 5pm
2006-11-22 12:11:57
121.   Terry A
I had Claudell Washingtons to spare. Jerry Reuss seemed to make frequent appearances as well.
2006-11-22 12:13:02
122.   Clive Clements
I think I may have a 1986 Topps Kent Tekulve laying around here somewhere...

Maybe Tekulve and a side of rice pilaf for someone's Oddibe?

2006-11-22 12:21:18
123.   DodgerHobbit
122 Done...I'll even throw in a Cory Snyder!
2006-11-22 12:26:08
124.   bigcpa
Trivia: Oddibe's Berman nickname?
2006-11-22 12:27:26
125.   Greg Brock
124 Oddibe Young Again McDowell.
2006-11-22 12:27:47
126.   chris in illinois
124

Oddibe 'isn't it great to be a' McDowell???

2006-11-22 12:28:09
127.   Greg Brock
Right up there with Kurt What is that Manwiring.

All the others are lame. Those are great.

2006-11-22 12:30:20
128.   Terry A
I always fancied Jim "Two Silhouettes On" DeShaies.
2006-11-22 12:31:08
129.   bigcpa
Sorry none can top Bert "Be Home" Blyleven.
2006-11-22 12:31:31
130.   chris in illinois
Should be Oddibe 'playing a mediocre centerfield in 2006' McDowell (because someone would give me 50 million smackers).
2006-11-22 12:32:18
131.   Greg Brock
Yeah, those are good as well.
2006-11-22 12:34:36
132.   Terry A
Also, Rick "See Ya Later" Aguilera.
2006-11-22 12:38:41
133.   bigcpa
How about Juan "Gets on Base an Awful Lot" Pierre?
2006-11-22 12:43:33
134.   Terry A
"The new mom, wearing a skimpy sequined shift and a shoulder-length platinum bob, yodeled and rapped convincingly throughout the tune."

I just read that fascinating sentence at MSNBC.com. For some reason, I am suddenly nostalgic about my high school typing class.

2006-11-22 12:47:34
135.   Andrew Shimmin
134- I need closure. Who's the skimpily sequined, rapping yodeler?
2006-11-22 12:48:52
136.   Terry A
Oddibe McDowell.
2006-11-22 12:49:21
137.   Terry A
(Gwen Stefani.)
2006-11-22 12:52:35
138.   Greg Brock
Every time a big deal goes down, the first wave is either the teeth gnashing one, or the exultation one (though, sometimes both at once). The second wave is the analytical brokering, which is the one most likely to make us proud. Then comes the morning after with pile-ons and recriminations. Which is when the board bashing starts. Then there's the board-bash backlash, which is automatically treated as an ideological putsch.

There are parts of this routine that are more enjoyable than others, but it's possible all are necessary. Like mosquitoes are important for an ecosystem. Or something. I don't know. Would it really be so bad if there were no mosquitoes?

I thought that was great, Andrew.

2006-11-22 12:55:42
139.   natepurcell
and... its official.

http://tinyurl.com/y6vcd9

2006-11-22 12:57:26
140.   Greg Brock
139 Shoot the messenger! Shoot the messenger.

For god sakes, will somebody SHOOT. THE. MESSENGER!

2006-11-22 12:58:37
141.   Terry A
139 - What the heck? We signed Juan Pierre?

Man, talk about a signing coming out of nowhere.

Didn't see that one coming.

2006-11-22 13:01:15
142.   Andrew Shimmin
137- Ah ha! Thanks.

138- I think I've already told the story about my troubles with Freshman science because I refused to toe the party line that the extinction of condors was in any way to be regretted. I was on firmer ground there, since, the difference to an ecosystem between a hundred, or however many condors there actually are, and zero can hardly be anything. But mosquitoes, I'm not so sure about.

Andrew Shimmin,
America's Foremost Extinction Advocate

2006-11-22 13:01:20
143.   bigcpa
Ned has revised his blurb from "gets on base an awful lot" to the dreaded "he knows what it takes to win."
2006-11-22 13:03:31
144.   Greg Brock
143 The Jeopardy guy knew what it took to win.

I don't want him on the Dodgers either.

2006-11-22 13:03:32
145.   Xeifrank
No wonder why Colletti was so angry that Drew opted out at 3 years for $33mil. Given what has taken place with the Soriano, Pierre and GM Jr contracts one can't really fault Drew for opting out. It's not like he was chasing a few million by opting out, it turns out he is now chasing tens of millions and a much longer term contract. vr, Xei
2006-11-22 13:07:18
146.   Xeifrank
143. is Ned trying to model this team after the recent Marlins (Pierre/Castillo) team that won the W.S.? vr, Xei
Slap hitter: Check
2nd Slap hitter: Check
2006-11-22 13:08:04
147.   Terry A
Brad Penny? Check. (So far.)
2006-11-22 13:16:29
148.   Andrew Shimmin
146- If it means we get Juan "Strong as Death, Sweet as Love" Encarnacion back, I'm in favor of it. I wonder what Flanders is going to have to give up for Carl Pavano. . .
2006-11-22 13:20:28
149.   Icaros
Is this going to be like the time we tried to model the team after the first Marlins WS winner in '97?
2006-11-22 13:20:51
150.   Icaros
We traded Piazza for half the team.
Show/Hide Comments 151-200
2006-11-22 13:21:31
151.   natepurcell
so Newsradio is on TBS right now and ive never watched this show before. Ive caught myself laughing like 7 times already.

is this show actually funny or do i just suck?

2006-11-22 13:22:00
152.   Greg Brock
Maybe one day we could model the team after the 1927 New York Yankees.

I would much prefer that.

2006-11-22 13:22:43
153.   Greg Brock
151 Why can't it be both (Kidding!)

It's a funny show.

2006-11-22 13:28:19
154.   Andrew Shimmin
151- Newsradio was a great show. It's the last sitcom (excepting the Simpsons), I really liked, before The Office came in to my life.
2006-11-22 13:28:49
155.   natepurcell
holy crap, Milton (stephen root) is on this show. amazing.
2006-11-22 13:29:36
156.   natepurcell
oh man that was a great episode. now i have to shell out 100 bucks for all the seasons.
2006-11-22 13:30:06
157.   Telemachos
NewsRadio is genius. It never got its due share of kudos. (IMHO, the Phil Hartman-era years were the best; it went downhill when he was gone).
2006-11-22 13:30:14
158.   Terry A
Antonio Alfonseca was not on the 2003 Marlins.

No polydactyly sufferers pitching for us, then.

2006-11-22 13:31:42
159.   Andrew Shimmin
156- Telemachos is right; you shouldn't bother buying the last season. It's sad, all around, but the show would have been better off canceled than Lovitz'd.
2006-11-22 13:33:13
160.   Icaros
If you're watching Newsradio, don't leave your back exposed to Joe Rogan or he'll put you in a rear-naked choke. Try to get out of that and you're stuck in the triangle.
2006-11-22 13:42:22
161.   Steve
Newsradio is to comedy what Juan Pierre is to sucking. They are both unrecognized masters of their art.
2006-11-22 13:44:25
162.   Icaros
161

Are you saying that Colletti has an ulterior motive for signing Pierre? That's kind of gross.

2006-11-22 13:45:18
163.   still bevens
155 Newsradio is really great tv. And the benefit for you is that its only on during the daytime, so college types can take serious advantage. I watched my fair share of episodes in between class and work.
2006-11-22 13:51:15
164.   Andrew Shimmin
162- I'm making a spectacle of myself thinking about JP as Borat, and Flanders as the unscrupulous producer. And with the dueling mustaches. . . Well. If there's a de facto anti-vomit rule in effect, there must be a de facto anti-this train of thought one, too.
2006-11-22 13:53:44
165.   bigcpa
Matthews .263/.336/.419
Bradley    .270/.354/.429

Both guys play a nice CF, switch hit, walk at a 10% clip. Bradley is only 145 games played away from $50,000,000.

2006-11-22 13:55:42
166.   JoeyP
Ned has revised his blurb from "gets on base an awful lot" to the dreaded "he knows what it takes to win."

There both wrong.
Pierre has played on mostly bad teams throughout his career.

The Cubs scoring the fewest amount of runs last year in the majors had to have something to do with whom was leading off for them.....Whats that guys name again?

2006-11-22 14:00:30
167.   bigcpa
166 You only have to be on 1 good team to learn how to win, silly! And if you define winning as making the playoffs then 80% of FA's in the WC era know how to win!
2006-11-22 14:01:44
168.   DodgerHobbit
166 maybe the d/l'd power hitter behind him on the cubs had a little to do with it? What was his name again?

It's asking alot to of a leadoff hitter to steal home or bat himself in.

2006-11-22 14:10:21
169.   bigcpa
168 Pierre was considered a bust for the Cubs on his own merits. I didn't even know the guy was a FA until last week. Anyone else?
2006-11-22 14:11:57
170.   Greg Brock
Man, Keith Law just crushed Colletti over this signing.

As well he should. It's a joke, and so is Ned.

2006-11-22 14:15:46
171.   bigcpa
170 "on a good team, he's a bench player -- even at his current level of ability..."

MORE NOVOCAINE! MORE NOVOCAINE!

2006-11-22 14:17:09
172.   Jon Weisman
New catch-all thread up top
2006-11-22 14:29:40
173.   Xeifrank
168. I wish Juan Pierre could steal first base! vr, Xei
2006-11-22 14:33:33
174.   Andrew Shimmin
"In Letterman all I got was an apple and Cheerios."

http://youtube.com/watch?v=_rVohkpMqC0 (may not be SFW)

2006-11-22 14:42:33
175.   Sharkie
We need Juan Samuel.
2006-11-22 15:00:52
176.   DodgerHobbit
168 True. However the entire season for the cubs was a bust. But you can't blame the leadoff hitter for the outcome of a season. There are too many variables. If you have a healthy Derrek Lee in front of Aramis Ramirez the cubs win a respectable amount of games.

166
rambling disorganized analysis ahead
The problem i have with 166 is the connection of Pierre with losing clubs via his inability to get on base and the clubs inability to score. I have a problem with it because Pierre's production does not seem to have much of a correlation to how many wins or losses his teams have had.

So I'll examine that connection:
2000 Pierre didn't play enough to have that kind of impact

2001 rockies...Pierre scores a ton. OBP is high at .378. the club still stinks despite scoring more runs than the rest of the national league. The problem is scoring alot of runs doesn' always win games because if you give up more runs you still lose! I think it is not hard to say pitching and that stadium have more to do with the record despite Pierre doing his job.

2002 Next year Pierre's OBP slips to the .330's...rockies still stink..9 less wins than 2001. Team goes from 1st to 4th in the league in scoreing. That has less to do with Pierre and more to do with a launchpad and mentally defeated pitchers.

Which Pierre made the Rockies suck?

Good Pierre on Rockies didn't make a difference in wins even with almost 2000 runs scored in those two years

2003 FLA .362 obp over 100 runs scored team is 87-75...the team is the middle of the pack in scoring overall. the team's 751 runs isn't near 2001 rockies territory. This is the most sucessful team Pierre has been on, with mediocre runs scored wins the world series. I think this is the least runs scored on any pierre team

2004 FLA slightly above .500 team 83-79, 718 runs. Pierre has his best year since 2001. Pierre scored the same amount of runs as he did on the team that won 4 more games the year before.

2005 Fla flips its W/L 79-83. Pierre's runs scored slips by 4 and his OBP slips. Team scores 732 runs. This is the best correlation I can find for Pierre dooming every team to loserdome yet although its 20 runs less than the year before...

2006 I don't know how many runs Derrek Lee would have created, but when you give Ronny Cedeno over 200 at bats...there are a lot worse things going on with the cubs than Pierre's .330 obp. Pierre's futility had nothing on Cedeno however. .245 .271 .339 in almost 550 ab's. So Pierre wasn't even the most futile hitting guy on his own team. Except for A-ram, everyone that could hit didn't get enough at bats.

My last point is that hypothetically limiting Drew, Nomar, or Kent to 50 games would eliminate a lot of the runs Furcal and Lofton scored. That doesn't reflect at all on Furcal or Lofton's skill as a ballplayer. It reflects of a gaping hole in a lineup.

Why would someone who is so into stats try to insinuate a statistically nonsensical correlation that hold absolutely no water with way too many other variables just to discredit a player he does not particularly like?

Don't get Juan Pierre...his teams lose, despite that year one of his teams happened to win a world series.

2006-11-22 15:04:18
177.   DodgerHobbit
meant to add "to this point"
to the end of 2003 paragraph.
2006-11-22 15:05:29
178.   DodgerHobbit
lol this stinks cuz even i don't like Juan Pierre ...i just think the some of the comments are so distorted and twisted that it undermines the reality that we may not like his performance for what we paid for him this year.
2006-11-22 15:06:43
179.   DodgerHobbit
173 :)
Last post today for me.
thanks to any of ya read my rants.
2006-11-22 17:45:50
180.   jasbo
Sorry, I know I'm coming in late here and haven't had time to read all the posts, but BA is NOT antiquated. It's merely imperfect like all the other stats. OBP pretends a walk is as good as a triple. Slugging percentage pretends a triple is three times better than a single. OPS pretends to rectify the discrepancy and doesn't (on-base clearly should get more weight than slugging). So there.
2006-11-22 20:32:49
181.   PDH5204
Jon, why so hard on little, ole BA? I mean, would you be so hard on her if BA was .400?

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