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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
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

I, Not Robot
2007-03-31 09:35
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I'm a little worried.

Despite any number of sentimental words that I write, there are people who think I'm just a robot - a smug robot, in fact - who draws broad conclusions from baseball statistics and nothing else. This morning, Bill Shaikin of the Times quoted me in his article on evaluating leadoff hitters, in a way that might only perpetuate that perception.

I stand by the quote, which came from this November 20 piece reacting to the signing of Juan Pierre, and I understand it was a very small part of a very long article, but it presents a reason for me to make some other opinions clear.

Here, in truth, are the things I believe - all of which I have said in the past.

  • There is hardly a baseball fan in the world that doesn't use statistics. There is no debate about whether to use statistics; the debate is only about which statistics to value. No one is born knowing how to calculate batting average or knowing what it means - it's something we're taught. The same applies to other stats - the difference being that the other stats may be more meaningful for determining the better player.

  • Heart, character and chemistry are valuable things - you hear me? I'm saying they are valuable - but they are also things that manifest themselves in a player's numbers. They are tangibles, not intangibles. A player who shows up early to the ballpark doesn't need extra credit for doing so. He already gets credit.

  • The response to the above point is often that a player's good behavior inspires better performance from his teammates - or that a player's bad behavior brings his teammates down. However, if one of your teammates is a bad egg, it's not his fault if you let him diminish your performance. It's yours. If you're a professional, paid handsomely, you rise above that problem, and if you don't or can't, then that means you too have a character flaw that your statistics will reveal.

  • A team does need veteran presence and leadership, but those are things a manager or coaches can provide - that they must provide. You must have good leaders. But you don't need to sign an elder statesman player whose talents have faded to provide that.

  • As Shaikin's article points out, players such as David Eckstein who are admired for their spunk are valuable for things like how much they get on base - how productive they are on the field, offensively and defensively. That doesn't mean the spunk is a bad thing - just that it's not a raison d'etre. It's a means, not an end. Mary Richards had spunk - that wouldn't make her a ballplayer.

    Time and time again, I have seen fans of ballplayers with "intangibles" abandon support for those players when they stop producing.

    (Just in passing: The chart accompanying Shaikin's article compares Pierre favorably against Hall of Famer Lou Brock, but fails to adjust for the lower-offense era of the 1960s that would tilt the scales back in Brock's favor.)

  • In writing about Pierre in particular, in my original post and subsequently here and at The Hardball Times, I have taken pains to point out that while he "doesn't help the Dodgers nearly as much as his main supporters think ... in 2007, he doesn't hurt the team as much as his detractors might fear."

    I am not at war with Juan Pierre. I am not at war with anyone in the baseball world. I love the game of baseball, and as a fan of the Dodgers, the only thing that matters to me is whether they win or not. And if Juan Pierre is the one who leads them to victory, I will be happy.

    I happen to think that Dodger general manager Ned Colletti has overvalued Pierre's ability, but I accept that other people feel differently.

    When I started this blog, I had a point of view about the Dodgers that I thought was under-served, that I wanted to voice. I felt like I had worthwhile things to say. But I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me. I just wanted the point of view out there for consideration.

    A reader recently suggested that I post some Frequently Asked Questions repsonses on the Dodger Thoughts sidebar, and it might be good advice. The values debate in baseball tends to go in circles, and that leads to frustration, and then anger. And nobody wants that.

    In any case, as time has passed, there are some who have come to believe that all this blog stands for is an attack on the human elements of baseball. And I would just like to plead to those people that that is simply not true.

    I'm looking forward to Opening Day, man. Opening Day! Just about the best day of the year. Let's talk about that.

  • Comments (162)
    Show/Hide Comments 1-50
    2007-03-31 09:58:31
    1.   Marty
    Nice post Jon. I suspect you may need to re-post this once a year.
    2007-03-31 10:07:49
    2.   MJW101
    Jon,

    I think if everyone read your articles and your postings on a regular basis they would understand your positions much more clearly. It is the ones who only cherry pick to illustrate their own viewpoints that result in skewed perspectives.

    2007-03-31 10:09:27
    3.   Daniel Zappala
    Excellent article. The computer scientist in me has been pondering how one could write an automatic FAQ generator, some kind of a knowledge gathering application. A community like this generates knowledge that is scattered throughout many thousands of comments. If we fail to collate that knowledge, then it sits there, unused, and in addition to misconceptions, we get people who raise the same issues over and over again. Jon, you could certainly write a fantastic FAQ, but I wonder if you have the time. Perhaps we need a community effort?
    2007-03-31 10:20:52
    4.   kachang
    I am a frequent reader but rarely post. The opening day excitement is getting to me...

    There is a short and not very detailed article at BA about organizations and their success rate with prospects. The Dodgers performance of the 90's unfortunately does not rate well... but I guess we already knew that.

    http://tinyurl.com/yvquok

    Great post Jon, I love this blog - it's hard to find balanced opinions

    2007-03-31 10:21:23
    5.   Charenton
    As I have said before on this blog, I am a native Angeleno and life long Dodger fan yet I have lived in France for the last 22 years. For the first 15 years over here, I lived my relationship with the LA Dodgers through a small line score each day in the International Herald Tribune. And using my vivid imagination, I was able to use this very small statistical sample to recreate each game. Starting in the 1990s, USA Today became available overhere and once a week, I treated myself to a page full of box scores to relive each MLB game in even more detail. I don't know of any other sport where can understand more about a game from examining statistics. They are essential to understanding the game of Baseball.

    I remember when I was 8 years old and my father patiently explained to me that a player's ERA was a more important statistic than his WL record. I remember my 6th grade math teacher using calculations of ERA and batting average as a chapter in our math class that year.

    Now with the internet, everything is available, including the new Bill james influenced statistics that tell us even more about the game. And I can follow the MLB season almost as if I was living in the US.

    Anyone denying the primordial importance of statistics in baseball is most certainly part of the anti intellectual "Know Nothing" tradition from the 19th century…

    2007-03-31 10:24:47
    6.   Shotupthemiddle
    I saw the Pierre article in The Times this morning and my first thought was, "Will Dodger Thoughts get a mention?" It wasn't on Page 1, but still...

    I am more excited about this year's opening day than I have been in recent history. And this site has a lot to do with that.

    2007-03-31 10:27:10
    7.   Curtis Lowe
    What's more exciting than Juan Pierre on the base paths?

    Matt Kemp taking Shields yard for a three run cherry!

    2007-03-31 10:30:06
    8.   chumsferd
    You can take almost any quote, slice it up a bit and take it out of context and make someone look bad or warp the meaning of the original statement. Pro-athletes learn this quite quickly, which is why they eventually speak almost entirely in the language that provides the utmost in safety, namely - cliche speak.

    This danger of misquoting is also why curt schilling started his own blog 38pitches.com so that he could always refer back to the context of whatever little blurb some columnist has written.

    here's the thing:
    1. columnists try to stir up controversy to increase readership, that's their job.
    2. the role of analysis has gone to online blogs like this one.
    3. when you get big, people will try to tear you down or at least challenge you.
    4. I think the mission of your blog is clear enough, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Then again, depo totally disregarded what others thought and look what happened to him. Then again, you can't get fired from this blog, can you?
    5. The Pierre signing was a horrible mistake on multiple levels.

    2007-03-31 10:38:30
    9.   underdog
    Hear, hear, Jon!

    Or is that, Here, here... ? I never could get that straight.

    At any rate, well said. (Hey, still nice to get quoted in the Times, even if it's a little out of context.)

    Can we just play ball now? Monday can't come fast enough! The end of the season can't come slow enough.

    2007-03-31 10:41:51
    10.   bhsportsguy
    You know what makes baseball such a great game. You can have 2 pitchers who had given up 3 home runs in 103 innings pitched. Four batters later, they gave up 4 home runs.

    Stats in baseball are like that, they do all add up to some predictability but how they get there is what makes the game such fun to watch.

    Dodger Thoughts is a great place for me to read Jon's and other fans thoughts about the Dodgers, baseball and other related and non-related things.

    Thanks Jon and the check is in the mail.

    2007-03-31 10:46:35
    11.   Bob Timmermann
    Historical perspective:

    Henry Chadwick, considered by many to be "the father of baseball" and the pioneer of many of the familiar stats we see in baseball today, thought baseball would be an ideal sport to be quantified and counted, which was a social trend in Victorian England. Chadwick had a half brother named Edward who was influential in England in improving sanitary conditions among the poor and was known to use statistical data to help his cause.

    Here is a sample of Edward Chadwick's report that he submitted to Parliament in an attempt to get one of the Poor Laws passed back in 1842:

    "That the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation are greater than the loss from death or wounds in any wars in which the country has been engaged in modern times.

    That of the 43,000 cases of widowhood, and 112,000 cases of destitute orphanage relieved from the poor's rates in England and Wales alone, it appears that the greatest proportion of deaths of the heads of families occurred from the above specified and other removable causes; that their ages were under 45 years; that is to say, 13 years below the natural probabilities of life as shown by the experience of the whole population of Sweden."

    Edward Chadwick wasn't going to go to Parliament and say "I think a lot of poor people are dying of dystentery." He went and figured it out. Half-brother Henry wanted to figure out a way to determine which baseball players were the best. So he figured out ways to best determine that.

    Henry Chadwick may not have been entirely successful just as Edward Chadwick wasn't either. But out of such a background, baseball was formed.

    You can read an extraordinarily good essay on this topic, which is a whole lot clearer, by Jules Tygiel in his great book "Past Time."

    2007-03-31 10:47:57
    12.   goblue1
    What I have found much more disturbing that Jon's opinion on the Pierre signing, which was very thorough, (he's a good man) is that some of the regulars of this blog gripe about Pierre over and over, often in not very well thought out statements, often very negative, never in doubt, but usually wrong. Pierre's not a super-star. But he is a very useful every day player with some good experience and great leadership and character qualities. His contract seems too expensive, but look at what else happened this off-season! Meche, Matthews, etc... baseball money isn't what is used to be... Pierre will not hold this team back from winning through October, its high time to talk about something else. Anything.

    How about MATT KEMP who is mashing again!!!!
    Let's hope the kid has taken the next step. It will be very interesting to see how long he stays in AAA (assuming he starts the year there). I still see flashes of Dave Winfield sometimes in #27.

    2007-03-31 10:52:26
    13.   Louis in SF
    Jon, I liked your post but also liked the LAT article and also read the other piece Shaklin wrote, where he asked Towers, Beane, Coletti, Stoneman and definitions of more current baseball stats. Their answers were telling and suprising at the same time.

    The one question for me that always comes up in these debates, especially when you had siginings like we had this year for centerfielders is how you factor in market conditions. In my mind the Dodgers if they felt they had to have another centerfielder as a place holder for Kemp, would the Dodgers have actually been better off sigining Dave Roberts for 3 years versus Piere for 5? The other factor that I think is never clear is the influence of the agent and his relationship with the ownership. I doubt will ever get a great answer on this question, but I definitely think it plays a factor.

    2007-03-31 10:55:41
    14.   Curtis Lowe
    Howd you guys like the infield in the 8th inning last night? LaRoche,Abreu and Loney... that pretty neat. With Kemp and Center.
    2007-03-31 11:10:47
    15.   goblue1
    13

    I would have preferred Roberts for 2-3 too, I think they stayed away b/c of age and injury concerns... Theres so much flux in the teams line up/position players it might do some good to have a few guys (especially a key position like CF) penciled in for 162.

    2007-03-31 11:14:45
    16.   bhsportsguy
    13 Part of it is that Pierre has a great injury history (which means no injuries) while Roberts generally gets dinged up, also Pierre is 5 years younger than Dave Roberts.
    2007-03-31 11:16:49
    17.   Ken Arneson
    "On a recent morning, Beane took note of a website that attempted to calculate how many runs the A's could score with every possible lineup combination."

    Hey, I resemble that remark!

    2007-03-31 11:20:08
    18.   bhsportsguy
    17 And then he signed Todd Walker. Is there anything thats need to be said.
    2007-03-31 11:23:22
    20.   goblue1
    Another thing to consider: if it turns out Kemp can play CF we can TRADE Pierre. This makes his longer term, lower $ contract look very smart. Sort of like buying a 2-5 year "starter home" with an option ARM (for those of you who have gone through that...). That way we pay him less total money for the time he is here. Given the way contracts have gone through the roof I don't think unloading the last 3 years of Pierre at $8-9/yr will be that though to do.
    2007-03-31 11:23:41
    21.   scareduck
    In any case, as time has passed, there are some who have come to believe that all this blog stands for is an attack on the human elements of baseball. And I would just like to plead to those people that that is simply not true.

    Who are these people, and why are you taking anything they have to say seriously? Anyone who reads Dodger Thoughts for any significant amount of time should be perfectly aware that is far from the case.

    2007-03-31 11:27:28
    22.   Bob Timmermann
    19
    The statement in that comment has to be wrong. If no one cared about Jon's opinion, then why would:
    1) the LA Times write about Jon's opinion
    2) several people here leave a comment either agreeing or disagreeing
    3) by saying you don't care about Jon's opinion, you are expressing an opinion.
    2007-03-31 11:29:10
    23.   GoBears
    12 some of the regulars of this blog gripe about Pierre over and over

    True.

    often in not very well thought out statements

    That's your opinion, and, since I'm one of your "Pierre-bashers," I find it an insulting and inaccurate one.

    often very negative

    True.

    never in doubt

    False. Every word everyone ever speaks is either tautologically true or else at risk of being wrong. Anyone who believes they know truth (and doesn't put "confidence intervals" on assertions of fact) is delusional (tautologically speaking).

    but usually wrong

    Says you. How would we know?

    Pierre's ... a very useful every day player

    Useful in the sense that one can actually use him everyday if one chooses - he will show up for work, and never gets hurt. But that's beside the point. The point is whether he was the best option available. The answer seems to be no way, price notwithstanding.

    with some good experience and great leadership and character qualities.

    And talk about going 'round in circles. As Jon has so eloquently (and frequently) put it, all that stuff (experience, leadership, character) either shows up in performance or doesn't matter. It's not extra.

    look at what else happened this off-season! Meche, Matthews, etc... baseball money isn't what is used to be..

    Irrelevant. Just because other GMs are throwing good money after bad doesn't mean ours has to. Moreover, even if today's $45M is last year's $35M, a roster spot is still a roster spot. Even if Pierre were here for the league minimum, he would not deserve anything like the number of at bats he'll get.

    Pierre will not hold this team back from winning through October

    Well, if he plays, he will accumulate some offensive stats, so in that sense, he'll contribute to winning, just like anyone whose OPS is higher than .000.

    But he'll likely be among the league leaders in outs as well. And nothing hurts a team more than outs. Until you get 3 each inning, you can score forever. Outs are the most precious resource there is, and Pierre wastes them like no other player in the game. Top 1 or 2 in outs the last 4 seasons, right?

    its high time to talk about something else. Anything.

    I love it. Here's my opinion, now let's move on before anyone else speaks.

    How about MATT KEMP who is mashing again!!!!
    Let's hope the kid has taken the next step.

    Amen, brother. We agree on Kemp. See? Common ground!

    2007-03-31 11:31:17
    24.   Greg Brock
    Jon's not a robot? Pshaw. This blog has lost all meaning to me.

    I'm off to Inside the Dodgers!

    2007-03-31 11:33:03
    25.   GoBears
    24. I'm off to Inside the Dodgers!

    Does. Not. Compute. Does. Not. Compute.

    2007-03-31 11:33:15
    26.   goblue1
    23

    "Irrelevant. Just because other GMs are throwing good money after bad doesn't mean ours has to. Moreover, even if today's $45M is last year's $35M, a roster spot is still a roster spot. Even if Pierre were here for the league minimum, he would not deserve anything like the number of at bats he'll get...."

    Far from irrelevant, see 20.

    2007-03-31 11:33:29
    27.   Greg Brock
    25
    Actually, I think Jon said it best in one of his previous posts:

    "0110100101110101010110101101010101110"

    And you can quote him on that.

    2007-03-31 11:35:31
    28.   Bob Timmermann
    0110100101110101010110101101010101110

    I short circuited a cyborg in Reno once just to watch his microprocessor melt after he said that to me.

    Now I'm stuck in Asimov prison and life just keeps rolling by.

    2007-03-31 11:39:56
    30.   Icaros
    Yeah, it's great that Kemp is mashing again. Too bad there's nowhere for him to play now, except Vegas.

    But Pierre gets to the park before Grady Little everyday, and Gonzalez won a World Series six years ago, so it's all good.

    2007-03-31 11:40:05
    31.   GoBears
    26. That's called "assuming the consequent."

    The idea that $9M/yr for Pierre is low enough to be easily tradeable depends on an assumption about the quality of his play - an assumption which we do not share. Perhaps $9M/yr is a good price (in this market) for some players, but not for a guy who should be a pinch runner and 4th or 5th OFer (even in this market).

    That's called "assuming the consequent."

    2007-03-31 11:43:04
    32.   xaphor
    I'm with 21. Jon, you need to toughen up, go out there and play your game. Don't worry about what the local rag might write in the morning. You just play your game and me, everyone else here and anyone with an appreciation for the sport will be right there along with you. The LAT may have the greater circulation, but I bet you sell a heck of a lot more shirts. :)
    2007-03-31 11:43:25
    33.   capdodger
    Don't worry Jon, being quoted out of context is good for at least upper-mediumwig status.
    2007-03-31 11:44:03
    34.   Jon Weisman
    Comment 29 pointed to a previous DT thread, http://dodgerthoughts.baseballtoaster.com/
    archives/571665.html , but in a way that violated rules 2 and/or 3 and/or 7.
    2007-03-31 11:45:59
    35.   Andrew Shimmin
    I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to be as snotty as it must have been. I did mean for it to be at all snotty, so that should have been reason enough not to submit it. This is definitely not a thread that would benefit from that.
    2007-03-31 11:46:11
    36.   Jon Weisman
    I don't think I was quoted out of context. I'm just thinking aloud about how some people will adapt the quote to their own contexts. I follow the advice of 21 and 32 about 99 percent of the time, but today I felt like addressing it all.
    2007-03-31 11:50:13
    37.   Icaros
    I love when the martyrs return after promising to leave forever.
    2007-03-31 11:54:21
    38.   Curtis Lowe
    37- Kind of like Julia Louis-Dreyfus?
    2007-03-31 11:54:41
    39.   Greg Brock
    We've seen the type of blogs that attract the "Rah Rah Go Team" crowd. They play to the readers without substantive analysis, and are completely useless to people who look for the deeper aspects of the game.

    We're just as passionate as the next guy. Jon in just as passionate as the next guy. If the fact that people around here use data and empirical evidence to draw conclusions is somehow offputting to people, well, I say "Good. Find someplace a little more rah rah."

    There are plenty of places around the tubes to scream "Go Dodgers!" ad nauseam. Thank goodness this isn't one of them. And if it was, I don't think it would be quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

    2007-03-31 11:59:52
    40.   goblue1
    31

    Well, 39 year old Kenny Lofton (who is good for about 120 games and a defensive liability, slightly higher OBP- yea, I Know) just got $6M from Texas.... So im ok with assuming Pierre in 2-3 (7 years younger) years won't be a burden at $9M.

    2007-03-31 12:05:02
    41.   Curtis Lowe
    39- So according to you the empirical evidence states Juan Pierre should not be a starter?
    2007-03-31 12:05:48
    42.   Icaros
    40

    Yeah, we'll just have to hope that the people who run baseball teams are as stupid in 2-3 years as they are now.

    Probably a safe bet.

    2007-03-31 12:08:04
    43.   Dodgers49
    13. would the Dodgers have actually been better off sigining Dave Roberts for 3 years versus Piere for 5?

    I have no way of knowing for sure, but I'm not convinced the Dodgers would have had to offer Roberts three years. The Giants gave him three. But, had the Dodgers allowed Pierre to sign with the Giants instead then the Giants, Angels and Padres would have all been out of the picture. He would have loved to stay near his home in Oceanside. I think a two year offer from the Dodgers would have been too tempting for him to pass up. Who else would we have been competing against?

    2007-03-31 12:08:13
    44.   Louis in SF
    20, Agree and the part about Piere's decreassing salary is also important. Question has the clock started on Kemp yet. I havv wondered at times especially this year if the Dodgers don't seem to be hiding him a bit and wondering if this is the case this year.
    2007-03-31 12:08:17
    45.   Greg Brock
    41 I don't think most people's opinion of Juan Pierre is any secret around here.

    He's Great!

    2007-03-31 12:10:08
    46.   Bob Timmermann
    In an attempt to keep up with the LA Times, Jon is going to have Brian Grazer contribute all the content tomorrow.
    2007-03-31 12:10:27
    47.   Curtis Lowe
    45- Weird I dont remeber asking anyone to clarify their opinion on Pierre, only to validate his claim on reliance of empirical evidence.
    2007-03-31 12:10:58
    48.   Icaros
    45

    I'd like to see a little more Tony the Tiger in your pronunciation of "Great!"

    2007-03-31 12:14:01
    49.   Greg Brock
    47 Are we picking nits on the use of "empirical evidence" vs. "data" or are we trying to start an argument?

    If it's the former, you can disregard my comment or dismiss it. If it's the latter, I'm really not interested in an argument.

    2007-03-31 12:17:43
    50.   goblue1
    49

    Because you would have to back up your opinions? (possible violation- I cant think of another way to ask it though)

    Show/Hide Comments 51-100
    2007-03-31 12:20:09
    51.   overkill94
    So what should we put the over/under at for benchmarks that will at least let us tolerate Pierre's presence? I'd go with:

    OBP - .350
    SB% - 70% for 40+ steals, 75% for anything less
    Rate2 - okay, I don't know much about the defensive metrics, someone pick a good one and establish a decent benchmark

    2007-03-31 12:21:17
    52.   overkill94
    50 I'm pretty sure some WARP, VORP, and OPS+ are soon to come!
    2007-03-31 12:21:21
    53.   Curtis Lowe
    49- I dont want to argue either, just so we're clear though, we differ on the usefullness of Pierre which is fine but I must know how sexy is Olmado Saenz?
    2007-03-31 12:21:52
    54.   Greg Brock
    50 Explaining why the Juan Pierre signing is terrible has been done on this site so often, I can't imagine having to do it again. There are scores of comments left by various posters that illuminate why the deal was bad, and why he is not an above average baseball player. I really don't feel the need to do it again, and most commenters probably aren't interested in doing it again.
    2007-03-31 12:35:50
    55.   GoBears
    Whoa - just got back from a walk (beyootiful day today) and noticed that I, erm, repeated myself in 31. Incomplete copyediting. As if the content of what I wrote wasn't obnoxious enough...
    2007-03-31 12:36:09
    56.   Vishal
    The response to the above point is often that a player's good behavior inspires better performance from his teammates - or that a player's bad behavior brings his teammates down.

    that reminds me, i gotta start working on a presentation for my public organizations & management class, and my topic is "peer effects". there was a slate article a few months ago which pointed to an interesting study by some berkeley professors about supermarket checkers, and whether faster checkers affect the workers around them. turns out they do, positively. here's the slate article (the academic paper is a little dry and mathy, and it's 50 pages, but you can get to it from slate):

    http://www.slate.com/id/2155741/

    anyway, it'd be interesting if someone did a study on peer effects with baseball players.

    2007-03-31 12:38:04
    57.   Brendan
    Do we know for sure Juan Pierre does not have a no trade clause? or a limited no trade clause? I haven't seen that answered yet. I thought I read that Matthews Jr had a no trade clause so I am worried that pierre might have one as well. Maybe Ned gave juan the 5th year in exchange for the no trade clause
    2007-03-31 12:44:54
    58.   Woody
    I am not a Juan Pierre basher, but have my severe doubts because so many of you (much brighter and more learned stat mavens) are. I was raised in another era, where BA, ERA, etc. were the stats that I obsessed over as a kid. I really don't understand a lot of the stuff like PECOTA, VORP, etc. Though I took statistics in grad school, I struggled.

    That being said, and I'm not disagreeing with you all, I would like nothing better than to see Juan Pierre do well this year and help the team go all the way. If he stinks, then replace him, though I don't see Matt Kemp as a centerfielder. I'm sure that just because he was signed to a 5 year K, doesn't mean he couldn't be gone before that, if some like Andru Jones becomes available at some point.

    2007-03-31 12:48:29
    59.   GoBears
    So I took a break to walk around the Rancho Park GC and Cheviot Hills park. There were little league games in progress, and my dog is a fan, so we stopped to watch for a bit.

    In the first game we passed (9-10 yr olds, I'm guessing), a batter struck out swinging (missed the pitch by about 3 feet, but after taking a couple steps toward the 'dugout,' was told that the catcher dropped the ball, and ran to first. There was an overthrow, and the runner on 2nd, having already moved to 3rd, scored. when he took off, the batter advanced to 2nd, then to 3rd on another overthrow. He scored on the final overthrow at 3rd.

    So, lesson 1: strikeouts aren't all that bad, and lesson 2: at some stage, it really is all about the fun of playing, not so much the quality of play.

    In the 2nd game, a little kid was up (maybe 8 yrs old?) and an adult - I didn't get close enough to see if it was a coach or maybe his dad - was yelling at him to swing. "Real players don't walk!" "I want you to get a hit!" Didn't matter that the pitcher was completely wild, his job was to SWING!.

    lesson 3: the Luddites still rule the world. And hey, loudmouth, see lesson 2!

    2007-03-31 12:50:28
    60.   Bob Timmermann
    The MLBcontracts blog does not list Juan Pierre as having a no-trade clause. He would just have the regular protections a newly signed free agent would.
    2007-03-31 12:52:33
    61.   immouch
    1. The Times' article was fair and, perhaps because I've been reading your post's for awhile, I thought your quote captured the spirit of what you've said on the topic.
    2. The "stats vs. heart" debate is as old as it is off point. Branch Rickey, I think, invented OPS, and before him others were criticized/copied for focusing on what many viewed as numerical bastardization of the holy game. Clearly, baseball stats REFLECT heart. That's part of why we like baseball; at some level we see it most than other sports to be a true manifestation of character. (Football being a manifestation of the military/industrial complex plus, you know, the coach; basketball being a manifestation of height). Weirdly, I think that's wrong too. Stats, in baseball, are about beating the odds. If we really wanted to use stats to reflect the nature of the game great hitters would be .700 (as in the percentage of time they make out), etc. By focusing on the positive baseball statistics almost exclusively reflect the exception, not the prevailing gale of negative outcomes.

    I have no idea what that means, or why I care, but I just thought I'd mention it.

    2007-03-31 12:52:37
    62.   imperabo
    The thing that sucks about the Juan Pierre debate is that it's very unlikely to be settled on the field. He will almost certainly hit close to .300 this year, with 60 steals at a 65% percent success rate, and score close to 100 runs. His supporters will say that's great and his detractors will say that's terrible.

    At least the Choi debate had some drama and interest for me because he could have come out and hit 40 homers and silence all doubters. Or he could completely flop and wash out of the league, which was also fascinating even though it proved me wrong. Either way I was going to learn something. The Pierre affair has no chance of a satisfying resolution.

    2007-03-31 12:53:18
    63.   GoBears
    Jon, I agree with Marty that this was a timely post (if, say, the LA Times piece sends some traffic over here, that'd be a good thing for them to read first) that might be timely again next year.

    But I also agree with those who are reminding you to put it all in perspective.

    As we say in academia (stolen from the world of PR, no doubt), any cite is a good cite, as long as they spell your name right.

    2007-03-31 12:55:09
    64.   MJW101
    Defending the Pierre/Gonzo signings is the main topic of conversation at the Ned centric sites/blogs. They cannot seem to understand the waste of resources and continue to insist Ned can do no wrong and should be considered infallible.

    Obviously, 50 is an escapee from such a site.

    2007-03-31 12:57:38
    65.   GoBears
    61 and 62. Good points.

    I agree that the only way Pierre surprises anyone is if

    (1) his BA dips closer to .250 than .300, so that even his fans can see the rot,

    or

    (2) he suddenly starts walking and raises his OBP closer to .380 than.330, so that even his detractors see the value.

    And I don't think either of those things will happen.

    2007-03-31 12:59:50
    66.   Daniel Zappala
    [41, 50] I'm not one to argue about players here, but if you just go back to the last thread you will see Pierre ranked among the bottom 2-3 centerfielders the past two years, and even in his best years was in the lower half. You can browse the past couple weeks to find more examples, and you can use baseball-reference.com to your heart's content.

    I'm always disconcerted when someone challenges the site to prove something, when they could find the empirical evidence themselves just as easily. I chalk it up to trolling.

    2007-03-31 13:02:07
    67.   Brendan
    60

    whew! thanks, Bob

    2007-03-31 13:03:29
    68.   JoeyP
    I'm not really sure why Jon took such offense to the Shaiklin article.

    If anything, Shaiklin paints Colletti as a dim-witted old school rube that is and will continue to get schooled by the Kevin Towers/Epstein, etc of the world.

    It was basically Shaiklin devoting 80% of his article to why the Pierre signing was bad, why people think its bad, and why other GMs would have never made the deal. Then you get 20% of the article with Colletti coming of as again ignorant, where he basically concedes that Pierre's only use is as a pinch runner and for "leadership" purposes.

    I'm just a little worried that Towers evidently is a sabermetric GM. That doesnt bode well for the Dodgers. Towers/Alderson/DePo in San Diego, and with Byrnes in Arizona--not good for the Dodgers.

    If the McCourts continue to make money, they wont care. It'll be like the Cubs. The Tribune company lets Jim Hendry do whatever assinine move he wants, and it doesnt matter bc the Cubs are making money.

    I think the McCourts are more about making money and public perception, rather than winning. Eh, what can you do?

    2007-03-31 13:04:30
    69.   Just Blue
    Hey, let's face it, Pierre is ours for 5 years. His contract is large enough that it will be difficult to trade him within 4 years unless he's able to obp at .400 with a 90% SB. I don't like the huge contract any more than the next guy, but if he's on my team I'm gonna learn to like him...even if he's blocking Kemp, and 3 times more expensive than the similarly skilled but aging Kenny Lofton (and locked in for 5 times as long).

    51 - If he can meet those benchmarks, I'll be satisfied.

    2007-03-31 13:05:18
    70.   Greg Brock
    Towers is a convert. He wasn't always like this. A lot of it has to do with Sandy Alderson coming in.

    That hiring terrified my more than anything. Sandy Alderson is a really smart guy.

    2007-03-31 13:09:01
    72.   Curtis Lowe
    66- Its not that I doubt or dont know that there is evidence against Pierre, I doubt that the evidence is empirical in proving Pierre a bad player.
    2007-03-31 13:09:09
    73.   das411
    23 - My nit to pick:

    >>
    Pierre will not hold this team back from winning through October

    Well, if he plays, he will accumulate some offensive stats, so in that sense, he'll contribute to winning, just like anyone whose OPS is higher than .000.

    But he'll likely be among the league leaders in outs as well. And nothing hurts a team more than outs. Until you get 3 each inning, you can score forever. Outs are the most precious resource there is, and Pierre wastes them like no other player in the game. Top 1 or 2 in outs the last 4 seasons, right?
    <<

    Isn't this the wrong argument to make here though? I mean I recognize your point, but should you not be saying that Pierre is so low-value because of a low OPS and not because of the high out totals?

    This is like the argument everybody makes about how Allen Iverson is not a great basketball player because he has a low shooting %. Sure he puts up more points than any player in the league, this argument goes, but that is a function of his taking far and away more shots and missing on so many of them.

    Of course neither of these arguments ever fully takes into account the value of having an Iverson on the floor for all 82 games, and how many of those points would not be successful from your second-best scorer trying to take some of those shots, just like Pierre may with his speed may beat out 10, 15, 20 hits each season that a Matt Kemp, for example, will not, or will pick up an extra 5-10 by playing in 162 games instead of 150 with a Jason Repko-type in the field for the others.

    My point being, shouldn't you argue about the low shooting percen...er, on-base percentage, rather than the high number of outs/missed shots?

    Oh and congrats on the mention Jon! Maybe this post can be permalinked under that "About Jon" category in the sidebar...or the new and improved sidebar?

    2007-03-31 13:09:57
    74.   Greg Brock
    69 I don't think Pierre will be around for five years. If I were a betting man, I'd say two years and a deal. Dodgers pay 60%+ of his salary, and he plays in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, etc.

    Paying Juan Pierre 5 million dollars to not be on my team is just fine, if the alternative is having him for 9 million.

    2007-03-31 13:15:05
    75.   natepurcell
    okay enough of this debate, im going to try and change the subject.

    subject: Betemit

    i realize his overall numbers dont look great this spring but from the ABs ive seen, he seems to be more disciplined at the plate and his walk rate shows that. If Betemit goes 280/355obp with 25+ homeruns for the year AND laroche continues to tear up vegas, how do we get both in the lineup in 2008?

    Ideally, a middle of the order of Kemp, Betemit, Laroche will supply the power and progress together as a rising, 26 and under middle of the order unit. Looking at Betemit, he has grown into a man. he is easily 6'3 230lbs and i dont see how his positions cant be anything other then 3b/1b/lf.

    so what happens? We also cant forget about abreu.

    2007-03-31 13:18:22
    76.   das411
    58 - Scott Long has a take on PECOTA that you might appreciate:

    http://thejuice.baseballtoaster.com/archives/612861.html

    and as for a formal defintion of VORP, I also hafta leave that one to the experts here ;)

    2007-03-31 13:19:01
    77.   GoBears
    One interpretation of the rah-rah stuff is that it reflects poor understanding.

    Another, more charitable interpretation is that it reflects the triumph of hope over experience, or, to put it another way, OPTIMISM.

    A colleague of mine just published an excellent book called "Pessimism." It's a philoshopical treatise, probably not bedtime reading for people outside the field, but he does at least two things that are relevant here (I might not have this exactly right - I'm no philosopher).

    First, he explains quite lucidly the differences between pessimism and both cynicism and nihilism. They have been confounded in everyday parlance, and he wants to correct that.

    Second, he argues that pessimism is a much more useful and productive approach to life than optimism. Optimism is conservative - it's static. It's not the same thing as risk-acceptance, but is really the assumption that there is no real risk. Calvinist belief in predestination is one version of this. It teaches one to assume that everything will work out, and therefore induces inertia. Pessimism by contrast is pro-active. It trains one to see potential pitfalls or problems, and take action to make sure they don't happen. (That is, it is NOT assuming that the worst will happen.)

    Colletti represents an interesting mix of the two. He's risk-averse AND optimistic. On the one hand, he's all about the backup plan. He wants depth. That's pessimism driving action. On the other hand, his quest for depth favors players with very little upside potential, and sheer optimism that their performances will match their career years, despite the heavy odds that they won't. That's risk-averse and conservative, what we call around here choosing known mediocrity over the higher risk-reward combination represented by the prospects.

    FWIW. Probably not much.

    2007-03-31 13:19:27
    78.   trainwreck
    75
    I would guess the team turns LaRoche into an outfielder.
    2007-03-31 13:22:20
    79.   Bob Timmermann
    77
    So Colletti uses a belt, suspenders, and a few bungee cords to boot?
    2007-03-31 13:23:41
    80.   twerp
    68 " I think the McCourts are more about making money and public perception, rather than winning. Eh, what can you do?"

    McCourt surely didn't buy the Dodgers to lose money. But if money were all, wouldn't it have been simpler just to stay in parking and whatever other businesses in Boston?

    He's talked a good bit about wanting to restore the Dodgers' glory. IMO it's too early just to write him off as a money grubber only.

    I come not to praise McCourt overmuch but to caution against burying him prematurely...

    2007-03-31 13:23:43
    81.   Greg Brock
    Nate, is LaRoche playing second base completely out of the question?

    Heck, if Jeff Kent can still do it, how bad could LaRoche be at second?

    2007-03-31 13:25:06
    82.   Bob Timmermann
    I should mention that Gameday zips along on my Win 2000 machine with a T1 connection.

    I think Gameday and the Mac OS don't like each other. In general, MLB.com doesn't like Macs.

    Which is odd since MLB.com is going to sell game highlights through iTunes now.

    2007-03-31 13:25:31
    83.   xaphor
    74. I cannot see Ned moving Pierre unless he really starts to stink up the joint. Looking at Ned's past signings (Furcal, Nomar, LuGo, and re-upping Kent), in a couple years Pierre will better fit Ned's prototypical player. :)
    2007-03-31 13:26:19
    84.   trainwreck
    77
    Interesting.

    Also made me think of Trailer Park Boys. Canuck would get why.

    2007-03-31 13:26:41
    85.   GoBears
    72 Its not that I doubt or dont know that there is evidence against Pierre, I doubt that the evidence is empirical in proving Pierre a bad player.

    I don't get the distinction. "Empirical evidence" is one of the more common redundancies in the lexicon (like "blatantly obvious").

    What sort of evidence is there, other than empirical evidence? And what's the difference between evidence and data? They mean the same thing.

    So Curtis, I'm not trying to be snide. Not at all. I'm sure you mean something in making the distinction bewteen "data" and "empirical evidence," but I don't understand what you mean. Can you try again using different words?

    2007-03-31 13:28:42
    86.   xaphor
    77. Hope for the worst, expect the best. :)
    2007-03-31 13:28:55
    87.   Curtis Lowe
    75- Betemit does look more comfortable now, how could Betemit play LF if Kemp will be there by june?
    2007-03-31 13:30:12
    88.   JoeyP
    LaRoche should be playing 2nd base regardless of what happens to Betemit. LaRoche at 2nd makes him more valuable than any other position he could possibly play on the field.
    2007-03-31 13:30:50
    89.   Jon Weisman
    I did not take offense at Shaikin's article at all.
    2007-03-31 13:31:43
    90.   Greg Brock
    A 2008 lineup with Betemit, Furcal, LaRoche, and Loney would be pretty sweet.

    Unfortunately, it lacks veteran presence. Not going to happen.

    2007-03-31 13:34:30
    91.   Icaros
    90

    And Kemp?

    2007-03-31 13:34:39
    92.   natepurcell
    LaRoche should be playing 2nd base regardless of what happens to Betemit. LaRoche at 2nd makes him more valuable than any other position he could possibly play on the field.

    of course, there is that slight problem that he might not able to play second base and his overall output is largely diminished by his defensive deficiencies.

    2007-03-31 13:35:05
    93.   Curtis Lowe
    85-I doubt that his on field contributions observed and studied prove that he is a bad player. Did I use the word wrong?
    2007-03-31 13:35:08
    94.   Bob Timmermann
    In the A's-Giants game in San Francisco, the A's are using a DH and the Giants are not.

    At least according to the Gameday app.

    2007-03-31 13:35:13
    95.   Icaros
    Or were you just talking about the infield?
    2007-03-31 13:38:34
    96.   Andrew Shimmin
    77- The first chapter of that book is available online, for free (as a .pdf):

    http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8307.pdf

    2007-03-31 13:38:53
    97.   xaphor
    90. Can we issue a decree that all mentions of Furcal must include some variation of "veteran presence"? With full support and more quotes in the LAT (get on it Jon :) it might just be enough come '08.
    2007-03-31 13:39:30
    98.   Greg Brock
    91 I was just going around the infield. But yes, Matt Kemp in that lineup would be very much nice.

    the empirical method is evidence gathered by observation. Pierre walks, we observe it, we record it, and use the records (data) to draw conclusions. I really didn't understand why I was getting picked on by Curtis for using the term. Hey, I'm a soft-sciences guy, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    2007-03-31 13:41:26
    99.   Greg Brock
    I haven't investigated the veteran presence matrix closely enough to determine if Furcal has the presenceocity to overcome the youngsteritude of Loney, LaRoche, and Betemit.
    2007-03-31 13:43:07
    100.   GoBears
    73. Basketball is a poor analogy for baseball. Basketball requires teamwork, and one player CAN make others more productive (it's why the assist is so valued).

    But let's think about this. In hoops, what really matters is what percentage of possessions result in scores by the team. If one guy takes most of the shots and is very inefficient (Iverson, Anthony), that kills the team, unless an unusually high share of misses end up as offensive boards and putbacks (which has to be random).

    In baseball, one player cannot hog most of the plate appearances. The only opportunity cost is plate appearances by whoever would replace him in the lineup. If the replacement is more efficient (higher OPS, whatever), then the starter's ability to play 162 games is a bad thing.

    Baseball is plug-and-play. Although we can't measure defense all that well, we know that the net effect on the team of playing one guy over another is exactly the difference between person 1's stats and person 2's. Anything a player does to enhance his own stats is good for the team. Basketball (and football and soccer and hockey and anything else with teamwork) is much more complicated. So you can have a super-talented guy like Iverson (or Kobe or Anthony or Paul Pierce) who is worse for your team's chance of success than a less talented guy whose skills blend better with those of his teammates.

    And you can't simply compare say, the difference in how the Lakers do in games without Kobe and games with him, with a similar difference for another player, because those teams were built with the assumption that the star would play. The absence of the star throws off the whole plan. In baseball, all the best player's absence does is replace #1 with #12 (for pitchers) and #1 with #13 (for hitters). And not really even that much, since the added guy probably doesn't get nearly the number of appearances as the absent star.

    Show/Hide Comments 101-150
    2007-03-31 13:45:04
    101.   Icaros
    We can sign Miguel Cabrera in a couple years to be the veteran presence.
    2007-03-31 13:48:49
    102.   xaphor
    99. Matrix schmatrix. I have seen Furcal the veteran play shortstop with a presence of a true veteran in person and his veteran presence is present throughout the stadium. Trust me when I say Furcal's presence is, oh, so veterany.
    2007-03-31 13:54:12
    103.   CanuckDodger
    77 -- Your colleague's take on optimism/pessimism is at best simplistic, and at worst wrong-headed. If you are optimistic, you can act with confidence, so you act. If you are pessimistic, what is the point in trying anything? It is going to end badly, with nothing positive accomplished and possibly you will be worse off than you would have been if you had done nothing. And Calvinism is neither inherently optimistic nor pessimistic. If you are among God's "chosen" you have every reason to be optimistic, but if you are "reprobate," you are doomed. Calvinism is fun (well, maybe that is not the best word) as long as you are sure you are part of the former. When you start to worry you might be part of the latter -- and most THOUGHTFUL Calvinists do worry about this at some point in their lives (I know, because I am a Calvinist) -- you just don't want to get out of bed anymore.
    2007-03-31 13:58:42
    104.   bigcpa
    I think the Shaikin column was a nice leap forward for Times sports page. What worries me is that the uninitiated see it this way: if you like character guys you must not value OBP and if you're a stat guy you must want a team full of Man Ram's and Elijah Dukes. What's missing from columns like these is an analysis of run creation- obviously a pretty dry topic for the masses. When Shaikin quotes Beane and Epstein touting OBP we all know they've formed these beliefs by studying evidence. When Colletti defends Pierre by citing his "disruption of the defense", I really doubt he has any statistical evidence that proves this is the optimal way to score runs. This comes across as hunch thinking from a guy who's watched thousands of games and knows a lot of people in the game. Unfortunately it may take a 9th or 10th ranked offense to make Ned rethink his strategy. And if the pitching finishes top 5 and we make the postseason, it will disguise a dysfunctional offense. This is exactly what happened with the 04-06 Angels. They keep winning so Stoneman thinks don't fix it if it ain't broke.
    2007-03-31 14:06:17
    105.   Eric Enders
    "LaRoche should be playing 2nd base regardless of what happens to Betemit. LaRoche at 2nd makes him more valuable than any other position he could possibly play on the field.
    --
    of course, there is that slight problem that he might not able to play second base and his overall output is largely diminished by his defensive deficiencies."
    ---

    That is one of the problems with having as your GM someone who goes the "safe" route almost 100 percent of the time. Kemp vs. Pierre is the ultimate illustration of this. If the Dodgers lose because Pierre is playing center field and putting up a .320 OBP, Colletti gets praised for aggressively trying to improve his team, even if it didn't work. If they lose because Kemp is playing center field and putting up a .320 OBP, Colletti gets raked over the coals for putting a player out there who can't handle the position. Colletti has shown himself to be someone who is susceptible enough to public opinion that he will always, 100 percent of the time, take the safe route -- even at the risk of harming the team. The Hendrickson trade is another good example of this.

    Which brings us back to Betemit and LaRoche. Should we find ourselves wanting to make room for both of them in the lineup, moving one of them to second base seems like a move worth experimenting with. It's risky, but the potential reward is great. Both started their career as shortstops, I believe. Both of them, particularly LaRoche, seem to me to have enough athleticism that they could learn to play second base as well as a Jeff Kent or a Todd Walker. Betemit would hold a certain amount of appeal as a platoon partner for Abreu at 2B in 2008.

    If our GM were Billy Beane or Theo Epstein or Kevin Towers or Mark Shapiro or Josh Byrnes or J.P. Ricciardi or Jon Daniels or, yes, Paul DePodesta, they would probably try that experiment. They are GMs who are always trying to discover new, different, and perhaps better ways of doing things. But because our GM is Ned Colletti, that experiment will never be tried. It's not safe. Safe would be signing Mark Grudzielanek or Mark Loretta to a two-year contract. It might cause the team to lose games, but it's a move for which the GM would be immune to criticism from the mainstream media, because Grudzielanek and Loretta have been good players in the past, they are gamers, they are good "character" guys, etc. With most of his moves, Colletti seems to have the intent of charming the local media more than actually improving his team.

    Then again, Colletti's teams have had Jeff Kent as their second baseman for something like 10 of the last 13 years, so maybe getting an extra bat in the lineup by playing LaRoche or Betemit at second base despite some ugly defense is something he'd be open to. If Betemit plays well this year, I guess we'll find out.

    FWIW, if it comes down to it, I see Betemit rather than LaRoche moving to the outfield.

    2007-03-31 14:09:56
    106.   Andrew Shimmin
    It's a semantical problem to mistake colloquial pessimism for philosophical pessimism.
    2007-03-31 14:11:38
    107.   GoBears
    103. Wow. Just wow. Must be nice to know everything. Read the book before you call it simplistic.

    You can, of course, call my summary of his ideas simplistic. But I admitted it was in my comment, so that kind of takes the sting out. In particular, I shouldn't blame Dienstag for the Calvinist line -that was my addition, and it's entirely likely I misunderstand Calvinism. Forgive me my trespass.

    2007-03-31 14:15:17
    108.   bhsportsguy
    105 Again its nice to bring up these guys but all of those guys play safe as much as Ned does. And asking Nomar, an established veteran and All-Star to move to a new postion coming off an injury was a pretty big risk to me last year.

    Whether like his methods or choices but I think the GMs you named are as equally conserative when they see fit. Certainly payroll and roster options play into it but I just don't get at times the necessity to lump this as an argument of Ned vs. the "young, adventerous" general manager.

    2007-03-31 14:17:21
    110.   Andrew Shimmin
    Joe Sheehan ranked three NL West teams in the top ten of the MLB. He has the Dodgers (8) between SD (10) and Arizona (3). It's a free BP article.

    http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6043

    2007-03-31 14:18:46
    111.   Eric Enders
    100 "If one guy takes most of the shots and is very inefficient (Iverson, Anthony), that kills the team, unless an unusually high share of misses end up as offensive boards and putbacks (which has to be random)."

    Not to turn this into a basketball discussion, but I don't see how that is true at all. Offensive rebounds are not random. They are a skill at which some players and teams are better than others. A team that has many offensive rebounds in one game or one year, will likely also have a bunch in the next game or the next year. They are not luck.

    And one thing coaches drill players on is to take intelligent shots. One characteristic of an intelligent shot is that it is taken when one or more of your teammates are in good offensive rebounding position. This is why, for example, players rarely shoot a three-pointer when they are on a 1-on-2 fast break. No chance for an offensive rebound.

    2007-03-31 14:19:26
    112.   xaphor
    109. Well Ned's mustache tickles, so I go for the clean shaven guys. Bob knows what I'm talking about.
    2007-03-31 14:20:53
    113.   CanuckDodger
    LaRoche can't play 2B. His range at 3B is fringy as it is. Abreu is our 2B of the future. Betemit, after 2007 if not during it, is a utility guy or trade bait. And Kemp is not a CF, he is an RF. Sure, you can put guys anywhere on the field as a temporary patch or if you outright don't care about defense (and though JoeyP has not said it here, at Dodgers.com he once said that he doesn't care about defense at all), but we SHOULD care about defense, and I am not going to complain about Colletti wanting the Dodgers to be defensively sound. Even Billy Beane wants good defense. It became the NEW OBA after a time (an asset undervalued in the marketplace).
    2007-03-31 14:22:01
    114.   Suffering Bruin
    If the Dodgers lose because Pierre is playing center field and putting up a .320 OBP, Colletti gets praised for aggressively trying to improve his team, even if it didn't work. If they lose because Kemp is playing center field and putting up a .320 OBP, Colletti gets raked over the coals for putting a player out there who can't handle the position.

    Yep. That's it in a nutshell.

    2007-03-31 14:22:53
    115.   Suffering Bruin
    By the way, I've met the man so I know a little more than the rest of you. Let's not make any assumptions about a man until we actually, truly press a handshake on him and know for sure what the facts are.

    Jon is not a robot.

    2007-03-31 14:24:40
    116.   Greg Brock
    Somehow this conversation is missing something without Steve.

    But SB showed up! Hope the parent/teacher conferences didn't take too much out of you.

    2007-03-31 14:26:36
    117.   Eric Enders
    113 That's an interesting opinion regarding LaRoche's defense. "Opinion" being the key word.

    I would also note that "not caring about defense" is an entirely different animal than "believing a player's offensive contributions can more than make up for his defensive deficiencies."

    2007-03-31 14:29:43
    118.   Eric Enders
    Also: I loved watching that 2003 team play. Probably my favorite Dodger club since 1988. But as good as they were defensively, that didn't help them win anything.
    2007-03-31 14:32:14
    119.   GoBears
    111. I was vague. You're right of course.

    All I meant was that the probability that one player's misses are rebounded by his own teammates can't be systematically different from another player's misses on the same team. That's why Philly was best when it was Iverson and a bunch of board crashers.

    But even that's simplistic. Long shots lead to long rebounds, etc. Missed layups after drawing a potential defensive rebounder to attempt a shot block probably lead to more ORs. And so on.

    All I was really trying to eliminate was the possibility that one guy's misses don't matter as much because his team ends up scoring on that possession more often than would be true if it were another guy missing shots. It was a trivial caveat, poorly expressed.

    Hoisted on my own petard. Nice work, Enders.

    2007-03-31 14:33:21
    120.   D4P
    Colletti has shown himself to be someone who is susceptible enough to public opinion that he will always, 100 percent of the time, take the safe route

    To clarify, Colletti takes what is perceived to be the "safe route" by old-school baseball thinkers. In their eyes, Ned has set up a no-lose situation for himself. If the team is successful, he wins. If the team is not successful, it will be chalked up to bad luck. "He did the right thing by putting speed at the top of the lineup, adding veteran presence and guys with WS rings, etc. It's not his fault they lost."

    2007-03-31 14:33:25
    121.   CanuckDodger
    106 -- "Pessimism" is a colloquial term, it isn't a philosophy, like cynicism or nihilism.

    107 -- I was responding to YOUR representation of your colleague's book. I assumed you would represent it faithfully, and frankly, I doubt you did misrepresent it, outside of unwittingly making it sound like the Calvinism thing was his idea and not yours. I think you are fair-minded enough that you wouldn't have tried to summarize his ideas if you thought you would botch the job.

    2007-03-31 14:35:08
    122.   GoBears
    118. Me too. Izturis and Cora and Beltre - what a joy to watch. And we got to watch them a lot because the other team spent very little time playing defense.
    2007-03-31 14:39:49
    123.   Andrew Shimmin
    121- What's your favorite Night Stalker episode?
    2007-03-31 14:40:40
    124.   Bob Timmermann
    I always thought my mother had a pessimistic outlook although I have no idea if that was a philosophical outlook of hers. More likely, she was pessimistic because she grew up in distressed cirumstances.

    But now I have this image of my mom as a nihilist and throwing a ferret into the bath tub and wearing all black.

    I'll be back. I have to call the therapist.

    2007-03-31 14:42:09
    125.   Andrew Shimmin
    Schopenhauer is the J.D. Drew of Philosophy.
    2007-03-31 14:42:25
    126.   Eric Enders
    OK, question: Why in the world did the Angels and Dodgers schedule today's game to be played right in the middle of the Final Four? I mean, I know they didn't KNOW U.C.L.A. would be playing, but they had to know there was at least a 40 percent shot. And even if not, it's the Final Friggin' Four. Why do you schedule your lesser sporting event to be a direct competitor?

    Signed,
    disgruntled MLB.tv watcher who, in past years, could have simply Tivoed the game on Extra Innings

    2007-03-31 14:42:50
    127.   Greg Brock
    We believe is Nussing...NUSSING!

    Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, at least it's an ethos.

    2007-03-31 14:47:08
    128.   CanuckDodger
    117 -- My "opinion" on LaRoche's range is not my own, but the scouting consensus as I understand it. The Dodgers -- to the chagrin of some people -- are not a team to buck that consensus.

    And on defensive deficiencies, I would agree that a trade off should (or can) sometimes be made if the deficiencies in the field are the price of having superior offense at the position, but there is a minimum defensive competence that is required in the present, and the forecast for the player has to be that his defense will not become completely intolerable. LaRoche and Kemp are not going to get any faster or more agile, if anything they are going to get slower and more sluggish with age, perhaps even in the short term. That is (one reason) why they are held to a different standard than the sluggish Kent. Kent's career is almost over and he may have already bottomed out as a fielder.

    2007-03-31 14:51:10
    129.   JoeyP
    What does 2nd base require athletically, that LaRoche cant do?

    As long as LaRoche isnt left handed, I think he should be able to play 2nd base.

    2007-03-31 14:54:20
    130.   CanuckDodger
    123 -- The new series? "What's The Frequency, Kolchak?"
    2007-03-31 14:54:48
    131.   GoBears
    129. Secretly, he is left-handed. He's just playin' possum, like a bizarro Dread Pirate Roberts.
    2007-03-31 14:57:43
    132.   KevPas
    This is in response to comments on the earlier post. Does anyone know if KCAL9 is broadcasting HD on Time Warner only? The standard broadcast I have on Dish Network is definitely not HD.
    2007-03-31 14:59:23
    133.   CanuckDodger
    129 -- You have to cover more ground at 2B than you do at 3B, you have to be able turn the double play quickly, and you have to be quick enough to avoid a sliding runner's spikes (as much as possible). If anybody who started out a 3B successfully moved to 2B, I'll tell you right now, they had batter range than LaRoche to begin with.
    2007-03-31 15:02:45
    134.   Eric Enders
    128 "My "opinion" on LaRoche's range is not my own, but the scouting consensus as I understand it."

    Fair enough. FWIW, here is everything that Baseball America has written about LaRoche's defense in the past year (as far as I can tell, anyway):

    -----
    He also has steady hands and a plus arm at the hot corner, and he committed just five errors in 54 Triple-A games.

    "He's a plus defender at third base and he hits with a lot of power," Colbert said. "You can tell by the way he carries himself that he's comfortable out there and knows what he's doing."
    -----
    Scouts and managers alike give him high marks for his all-out play at the hot corner... LaRoche gets good reads off the bat and has average range and footwork at third. His arm is plus, and the only tool he lacks is speed.
    -----
    Braun arguably had the best power in the SL this year. LaRoche is the better defender and has the best shot to remain there long term.
    -----
    While LaRoche is good with the leather, Zimmerman has the potential to be great. LaRoche has a bright future...
    -----
    Defensively, he has good hands and a solid-average arm. He's a reliable third baseman who committed just five errors in 54 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. He has below-average range and speed.

    2007-03-31 15:04:20
    135.   Bob Timmermann
    123
    New version or old version of "The Night Stalker"?
    2007-03-31 15:06:10
    136.   Andrew Shimmin
    130- I just meant that you were wrong, and that I couldn't see the profit in arguing. But I'm fickle, I guess.

    I understand you're a Calvinist, but that doesn't mean absolutely everything The Church says is wrong, does it?

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11740b.htm

    Just leaving aside that the title of the simplistic book was Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit, you could take German Culture dot com at their word that there really is such a thing as philosophical pessimism (as we all know, "No one who speaks German could be an evil man.")

    http://www.germanculture.com.ua/library/links/schopenhauer.htm

    Wikipedia, the final word on everything recognizes it as an acceptable construction.

    It's not my field, so I can't get too snippy about it, but unless you'd like to offer some reason for denying the existence of the thing, I don't get it.

    2007-03-31 15:10:09
    137.   Just Blue
    105 - If the Dodgers lose because Pierre is playing center field and putting up a .320 OBP, Colletti gets praised for aggressively trying to improve his team, even if it didn't work.
    - this just makes no sense to me. Why would Colletti be praised if Pierre can't get on base?
    2007-03-31 15:10:45
    138.   xaphor
    132. I do not think KCAL9 HD is available from dish networks yet. It would come in on a separate channel anyway.
    2007-03-31 15:15:48
    139.   xaphor
    137. Praised for the brave signing of a proven winner. Pierre just let us down.
    2007-03-31 15:17:05
    140.   Eric Enders
    137 It makes no sense to me, either. But it would happen, because Pierre is cute and lovable and tries hard and he's a nice guy who gives good quote. He's played on World Series teams before, so he's a championship caliber player. All these are things that the Plaschkes and Tony Jacksons of the world drool over. Keep in mind, Jackson just wrote an article about how this year's version of the Dodgers is better because they have more guys who are nice to sportswriters:
    http://www.dailynews.com/dodgers/ci_5543261

    If Pierre helps us win this year, it will be because he led us to victory, and Colletti will be praised for acquiring the right guy.

    If Pierre causes us to lose this year, it will be "oh, well, Colletti made the right moves and it was just bad luck that they didn't work out."

    2007-03-31 15:24:56
    141.   D4P
    Why would Colletti be praised if Pierre can't get on base?

    The people praising Colletti would be looking at Pierre's .290 BA, not his .320 OBP

    2007-03-31 15:28:53
    142.   Vishal
    so, arizona is the 3rd best team in baseball now? not bad, for a team that finished 4th in the national league west last october. getting rid of luis gonzalez must've been the key ingredient or something.
    2007-03-31 15:29:00
    143.   Ken Arneson
    Re: deleted comments above. I, not robot, either, get really, REALLY ticked off when I see trolling and trollbaiting. Do not do that. Period.
    2007-03-31 15:29:53
    144.   Eric Enders
    By the way, did anybody notice that Abreu's hot spring training has apparently caused the Dodgers to alter their long-term plans for him? All winter long, the Dodgers have been saying that Abreu and Hu will be the double play combo at Las Vegas. But now the Times says this:

    "In a minor league trade, the Dodgers acquired former major league infielder Tomas Perez from the Chicago Cubs for future considerations. Perez, 33, is expected to be the backup middle infielder at triple-A Las Vegas, where prospect Tony Abreu is slated to play shortstop.

    Another shortstop prospect, defensive whiz Chin-Lung Hu, hit .254 at double-A Jacksonville last season and could return there."

    2007-03-31 15:39:57
    145.   Bob Timmermann
    Tomas Perez? Really?

    He's like Ramon Martinez Light.

    2007-03-31 15:40:52
    146.   GoBears
    144. Interesting. Of course, that also means there's a 33-yr old SS in the system with MLB experience. Ruh Roh.
    2007-03-31 15:45:06
    147.   CanuckDodger
    136 -- Yes, I knew what you were really saying by asking me about "Night Stalker" episodes, but I thought I would play along.[Smiley Face].

    About Schopenhauer, my recollection of history of philosophy is that his philosophy is categorized as "Post-Kantian" (frankly, I can't remember what that means), and that the pessimism stuff for which he became notorious was more along the lines of shallow literature than his earlier, serious philosophical work.

    Anyway, bottom line, I don't believe pessimism is a philosophical school of thought. A consider it an "attitude," while cynicism and nihilism can be both. That there are people who disagree with me about this is okay. The issue isn't way up there in my hierarchy of important things to think about -- unlike the issue of why Brett Freaking Tomko is going to be starting while Billingsley is doing middle relief work.

    2007-03-31 15:46:20
    148.   JoeyP
    Tomas Perez is another 2006 Tampa D-Ray.

    241 Abs
    .212 BA
    .224 OBP
    .286 SLG

    Perez might have been the worst player in the major leagues that accumulated at least 225 Abs last year.

    2007-03-31 16:00:32
    149.   das411
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Tomas Perez???? Wow! I had not thought Mr. Ned was too bad but that just might be the move that makes me reconsider...good lord, soooo many late clutch at-bats he got with the Phils and did not come through, and then only the Drays would take him afterwards. Enjoy the many shaving cream pies!

    And does anybody want to help out 58?

    2007-03-31 16:02:14
    150.   natepurcell
    i think tomas perez is just minor league depth...
    Show/Hide Comments 151-200
    2007-03-31 16:03:01
    151.   CanuckDodger
    149 -- How good do you have to be a back-up Triple A player? If he has a pulse, he is well-qualified.
    2007-03-31 16:05:37
    152.   Greg Brock
    Ohio State averages 74 points per game. UCLA averages 71 points per game. Georgetown averages 69 points per game.

    I wonder why nobody is calling this a "Typical low scoring Ohio State game," or a "Typical Georgetown game."

    2007-03-31 16:07:21
    153.   Greg Brock
    152 Yup, say it with me..."Wrong thread, Dummy!"

    Sorry

    2007-03-31 16:08:27
    154.   JoeyP
    As long as Perez stays at AAA, I could care less.

    But if Kent/Furcal get hurt...and their replacements are Wilson Valdez/Tomas Perez...while LaRoche/Abreu play in Vegas. That could be a problem.

    2007-03-31 16:30:33
    155.   GoBears
    154. As Scooby put it in 146.
    2007-03-31 16:37:22
    156.   CanuckDodger
    At BP, Joe Sheehan say flat out that "the Phillies won't win the NL West." Hmmm, he might be going out on a limb there, just a bit.
    2007-03-31 16:47:42
    157.   Greg Brock
    156 Are you dinging Sheehan because he made a silly typo, and you don't like Joe Sheehan? Or did he make a flippant joke, and you don't think it's particularly funny?
    2007-03-31 17:03:54
    158.   Andrew Shimmin
    I may not have gotten much done last week, but at least I didn't almost destroy the universe. More than can be said for some people.

    http://tinyurl.com/yu9cqm

    2007-03-31 17:13:57
    159.   CanuckDodger
    157.
    1. -- I wasn't dinging Joe Sheehan.
    2. -- Saying "West" instead of "East" isn't a typo, it is a mistake, albeit one anybody could make in a fit of absence of mind, the way someone (Churchill?) said Britain acquired her empire.
    3. -- I like Joe Sheehan's writings. Don't ALWAYS agree with him, but I like his stuff.
    4. -- I don't think Sheehan made a flippant joke. I think he made a forgivable mistake that got past the editorial process, and I made a flippant joke about THAT, which I hoped would raise a smile (just a small one) on the faces of my fellow DT posters.

    But at this point I have to ask, Greg, between friends, how come you can't tell when I am joking? This isn't the first time you have thought I was being hostile when I intended, oh, basically the exact opposite. Nobody jumps on Steve or Andrew Shimmin when they have tongues planted firmly in cheek -- although, by asking, I suppose I am inviting you or somebody else to say they are actually funny, and I am, well, "not so much." Is it because I'm a Calvinist, and Calvinists don't joke? It is, isn't it? I never said I'm a particularly GOOD Calvinist, which is why I worry I am going to Hell, and it is so hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

    2007-03-31 17:14:18
    160.   xaphor
    158. Five more and its off to breakfast at Milliway's.
    2007-03-31 17:18:04
    161.   xaphor
    159. Its the Canadian thing. Now if you type while wearing a touque; laughs all around. :)
    2007-03-31 17:28:07
    162.   Greg Brock
    159 I think we have different styles. Sometimes people clash, even when both people are good intentioned and friendly. I've said before that I like you a lot, we just don't seem to agree very often. ToyCannon and I don't agree often, either. It happens. I didn't think you were being hostile, I just wasn't sure.

    It has nothing to do with you being a Calvinist. Or a Canadian. Though if you were an American Episcopalian, we'd probably have more in common.

    2007-03-31 17:29:03
    163.   Jon Weisman
    New post toasties up top.
    2007-03-31 17:32:06
    164.   Bob Timmermann
    162
    Greg Brock is Catholic Light?
    2007-03-31 17:40:22
    165.   Greg Brock
    164 He is. He even sung in the choir at St. Francis Episcopal Church.
    2007-04-01 13:27:04
    166.   bojangles
    Ah, Jonnie Robot: Let those of us manifestly aggrieved by those weaselly pliers of pseudo-journalism who take quotes out of context, and worse, distort them altogether for their own petty ends....
    Can you say, "Whose ox?" boys and girls?

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