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Friday, October 26, 2012

Knobler: Whether the Giants or Tigers win, Moneyball loses

Two games in, the Giants look good and the Tigers don’t.

Two games in, we don’t yet have a winner of this World Series, but we already have a loser.

It’s not the Tigers (not yet, anyway).

It’s Moneyball.

If the Giants continue this fun run they’re on, Moneyball loses, because if there’s one team in the game that’s more old school and less Moneyball than anyone else, it’s the Giants.

Unless it’s the Tigers.

If the Tigers become the first team since the 1996 Yankees to overcome a two games to none deficit (since then, eight teams have tried but failed), then Moneyball loses, too.

And don’t think some defenders of old-school scouting aren’t watching and celebrating.

Quoting @CapitolAvenue on Twitter:

Replace “Detroit Tigers” with “Baltimore Orioles” and “San Francisco Giants” with “Cincinnati Reds” and it’s the EXACT SAME THING.

In fact, replace the team with any of the postseason teams (including Oakland!) and it’s the exact same thing

Mike Emeigh Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: detroit, moneyball, sabermetrics, san francisco, world series

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   1. The_Ex Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4284457)
Hey Knobler: Moneyball was published in 2003. That shipped has sailed. Get caught up to 2012 will ya!
   2. DCA Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4284463)
The opposite of moneyball would be ... (what?)

Candidates:

NYY - Because when you have the biggest budget, you're not moneyball
LAD - Last year, yes, but taking on bloated contracts so you can get the guys you really want is the new market inefficiency

Or my choice:

MIA - Neglect the cheap fixes, throw a ton of money at a few good-but-overrated names (including the most fungible - manager and closer). And finish 3 games worse than last year.
   3. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4284465)
Knobler's #### doesn't work in the playoffs. Or, probably, the rest of the year.
   4. steagles Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4284470)
   5. Swedish Chef Posted: October 26, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4284473)
Just to liven things up and to kill Moneyball once and for all, Beane should invite a new writer to tag along in order to hype up a new paradigm of baseball management. Never mind just what it is, the writer will find something that fits the narrative, it just needs a catchy name. What about "Quantum Ball"?
   6. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4284484)
For some reason I felt it was appropriate to post this here:

The Sandbox
   7. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 26, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4284490)
Jesus , are the sports writers always this retarded. If you watched the Giants this year on a regular basis there would have been no way to predict that they would be on the type of run that they are on now. Hell, Sabean is the luckiest GM in baseball to pull a rabbit out of his ass 2 out of the last 3 years.
   8. Anonymous Observer Posted: October 26, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4284519)
pull a rabbit out of his ass


So THAT'S what Bullwinkle was doing wrong.
   9. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4284528)
it was less painful than the lion
   10. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4284544)
How is this not "Moneyball"? It's not like the richest team in each league is winning... just, what, the fourth- or third-richest, TOPS.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4284545)
Moneyball: use the cheap Marco Scutaro as your league-average SS
anti-Moneyball: trade for an older Marco Scutaro, watch as he puts up a 145 OPS+
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4284552)
Just to liven things up and to kill Moneyball once and for all, Beane should invite a new writer to tag along in order to hype up a new paradigm of baseball management. Never mind just what it is, the writer will find something that fits the narrative, it just needs a catchy name. What about "Quantum Ball"?


My idea for Randomball: The Art of Taking a Flyer on Dozens of Guys Who Are Past Their Prime, based on last year's surprise success story the 2011 Diamondbacks, is still available to Michael Lewis or any other writer.
   13. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4284558)
Moneyball: use the cheap Marco Scutaro as your league-average SS
anti-Moneyball: trade for an older Marco Scutaro, watch as he puts up a 145 OPS+

Which reminds me, do the Giants have ANY young pitching besides Bumgarner? I was really surprised at how old their staff is.
   14. catomi01 Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4284562)
if you ignore the contracts given out, don't the tigers resemble what the mainstream "thinks" (or thought) a moneyball team would look like? namely a slowpitch softball team that worries about defense only as an afterthought?
   15. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4284564)
Which reminds me, do the Giants have ANY young pitching besides Bumgarner? I was really surprised at how old their staff is.

Cain and Lincecum may be seasoned veterans but they're both just 28.

Looks like both teams only have one really young pitcher getting postseason innings. (Bumgarner and Smyly) Porcello has been rooted to the bench this postseason and Villarreal was left off the roster.

Both teams have a second-year reliever in a major role - Alburquerque is a year younger than Kontos.
   16. Steve Treder Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4284572)
Cain and Lincecum may be seasoned veterans but they're both just 28.

Cain was 27 through the regular season, just turned 28 this month.
   17. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 26, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4284579)
What is this, reverse nitpicking? I specifically looked at their individual pages to get their real age, instead of just going by the "BB-ref age", in case someone started nitpicking!

Just kidding.
   18. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 26, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4284602)
Cain and Lincecum may be seasoned veterans but they're both just 28.

That's kind of what I mean, though: Cain's 28 next year & has already thrown 1500+ innings. Lincecum's going to be 29 & has thrown 1200+ innings.
I don't think either has ever missed any significant time due to injury. That's weird, right? How long can they keep THAT up?
   19. Davo Dozier Posted: October 26, 2012 at 06:55 PM (#4284628)
I was thinking the other day, Sabean probably has one of the best track records on trades of any GM. The other areas, he's weak, but I can't think of any guys with better histories when it comes solely to trades.

1996: Matt Williams to the Indians for Jeff Kent, Julian Tavarez, and Jose Vizcaino
1996: Fausto Macey and Allen Watson to the Angels for J.T. Snow
1997: Mike Paegler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fotenot to the Marlins for Robb Nen
2001: Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong (!) to the Pirates for Jason Schmidt
2002: Ryan Meaux and Felix Diaz to the Cubs for Kenny Lofton
2007: Matt Morris (and his contract!) to the Pirates for Rajai Davis
2011: Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres to the Mets for Angel Pagan
2011: Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo to the Royals for Melky Cabrera

He has made one stinker, of course: Liriano and Nathan to the Twins for one year of AJ Pierzynski. But on balance, he has come out WAY ahead on a TON of trades. I'd say he deserves some props for player evaluation.
   20. Steve Treder Posted: October 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4284636)
I don't think either has ever missed any significant time due to injury.

Between them, I believe they have missed a grand total of about two starts in their entire major league careers. Literally.

That's weird, right? How long can they keep THAT up?

Yes, it is weird. I don't know how long they can keep that up.

But with my team poised on the verge of winning its second World Series in three years, the long-term viability of the pitching staff going forward isn't exactly something I'm fretting about.
   21. Steve Treder Posted: October 26, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4284641)
He has made one stinker, of course: Liriano and Nathan to the Twins for one year of AJ Pierzynski. But on balance, he has come out WAY ahead on a TON of trades. I'd say he deserves some props for player evaluation.

Agreed, and I have written about this many times. He's far from perfect, of course, but the "Brian Sabean = Idiot" meme is greatly at odds with the evidence.
   22. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 26, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4284704)
Sabean takes a lot of criticism in sabermetric circles because he doesn't build his team the "right" way. But since he took over as GM in September 1996 (yes, it has really been that long) only Atlanta and St. Louis have better records in the NL, and the Giants aren't that far behind the Cardinals.

-- MWE
   23. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 26, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4284709)
Ryan Meaux and Felix Diaz to the Cubs for Kenny Lofton

I believe it was actually the White Sox on the other end of this trade. Which affects your overall point... not at all.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: October 26, 2012 at 09:36 PM (#4284711)
I think he takes some of the excess criticism because free agent signings are the easiest transaction to rate and he's not very good at them. (Looking at the team, the FA guys are Zito, Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Affeldt, Theriot and Mota.) It's hard for us to evaluate the draft or international signings or trades properly at the time, while it's really easy to point out a bad contract.
   25. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: October 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM (#4284724)
I think the Sabean-as-idiot meme came directly from the 4 year streak in 2005-08 where the Giants had losing records every year.

They have been the only four losing seasons he's had since taking over at the end of the 1996 season. That's pretty strong.
   26. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 26, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4284733)
Freddy Sanchez was a trade, for BA's #45 prospect at the time Tim Alderson, who still has a chance of becoming the next Charlie Morton.
   27. dr. scott Posted: October 26, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4284736)
The other issue with sabean was his reliance onl old guys who were past their prime. Then on 2010 he finally hit pay dirt with Huff and Burrell and in the series Renteria. I guess the strategy paid off but it took 14 years
   28. BochysFingers Posted: October 26, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4284749)
Also, Sabean seems to have an above average record in the "prospects for possibly only a partial year of a veteran" type of deals.

John Bowker and Joe Martinez for Javier Lopez
Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran (yeah, Wheeler could be a stud, but it still hasn't happened yet)
Daniel Turpen for Ramon Ramirez
Evan Crawford for Mike Fontenot
Jason Stoffel and Henry Sosa for Jeff Keppinger

and of course:

Charlie Culberson for Marco Scutaro

and, let's not forget all the guys he's picked up on the cheap (which I believe is a hallmark of "Moneyball"):

Andres Torres
Pat Burrell
Ryan Vogelsong
Gregor Blanco
Joaquin Arias

one more trade which is a bit under the cuff but I have to think Sabean has won:

Chris Stewart for George Kontos

EDIT: The 2010 waiver claim for Cody Ross, accidental or not, worked out pretty well too.

   29. BochysFingers Posted: October 26, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4284750)
RTFA, and it's one of those articles where the comments are better than the article.
   30. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:32 AM (#4284761)
Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran (yeah, Wheeler could be a stud, but it still hasn't happened yet)

Along these lines, one of the things I think Sabean has been very good is at predicting which of his highly rated pitching prospects — and he's had many of them — will pan out, and which won't.

I'm not going to go through the list, but it seems like the guys they keep (Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Sanchez until they traded him) turn out to be good, and the guys they trade (Ainsworth, Foppert, Alderson) end up doing nothing. Obviously the Liriano/Nathan trade was an exception, but Liriano really only had one good year, and I believe Boof Bonser — who, again, did nothing — was thought to be the big "get" in that trade.
   31. Steve Treder Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4284762)
I believe Boof Bonser — who, again, did nothing — was thought to be the big "get" in that trade.

He was. Liriano was a nobody, a throw-in.
   32. Steve Treder Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM (#4284763)
I think the Sabean-as-idiot meme came directly from the 4 year streak in 2005-08 where the Giants had losing records every year.

That was when it intensified, but it had been alive and well long before. The notion before then was, "Any competent GM would have multiple WS titles in the bag with Barry Bonds on the roster."
   33. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4284764)
I think we, as a group, are quick to criticize non-SABR approaches and we tend to mock guys who write articles criticizing the "Moneyball" approach. IF we could go back in time two and a half years, very few people would have considered Sabean competent, much less a good GM. We do have to realize that the SABR way isn't the only way to build a team and even if it is perhaps the best way, it hardly provides such an overwhelming advantage that other factors can't determine whether an organization will be successful.

I think the Beltran trade is one that you have to make and should be considered a good move even if Wheeler becomes a good pitcher. You have to take your chances when you have good young pitching and a team that is in contention.
   34. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:25 AM (#4284773)
I think the Sabean-as-idiot meme came directly from the 4 year streak in 2005-08 where the Giants had losing records every year.

The Sabean-as-idiot meme came from Sabean himself when, after the Matt Williams trade, he defended himself to the media saying, "I'm not an idiot."
   35. Walt Davis Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4284776)
Well, Sabean really became infamous around here and in saber circles when he signed Michael Tucker before he'd been offered arbitration by the Royals and lost the Giants' first round pick. At the time, Sabean basically said he didn't want a first round pick because it would be waste of half a million bucks (or words to that effect). Given there was a pretty good chance the Royals were going to non-tender Tucker, it was one of the dumber GM moves we've ever seen. All he had to do was wait a couple of days and either the Royals do non-tender and he gets Tucker and the first round pick or the Royals do tender and the Giants are no worse off when they sign Tucker.

Now, over the last several years, the Giants have clearly been doing something right in the draft/sign & development department -- or are riding a huge wave of good luck. Posey, Belt, Sandoval, Cain, Lincecum, etc. is a track record anybody would be quite happy with.

He does win a lot of trades but he reminds me of myself at the poker table -- wait for the drunks to show up and stay away from the guys at the table who clearly know how to play.

But, although I know it sounds churlish, I really don't rule out luck. That 2010 team -- I don't think you could replicate that in a million years. We got this Posey kid but let's sign Molina to a 2-year contract and put this kid in AAA. What the heck, let's grab Huff for his one 5.5 WAR season (and the let's re-sign him after the fluke season but it won't really hurt us). Bench our promising young 3B during the postseason -- sure, why not? Pat Burrell was nearly as well-toasted as Alomar back in the day but no reason not to get the last good 300 PA of his career. Aaron Rowand's contract sucks -- no problem, we'll finally be Torres a chance. OF still not working out for you? No problem, the Marlins just put Cody Ross on waivers. The DeRosa signing not such a good idea after all -- no problem, we've got Juan Uribe.

Don't forget, DeRosa was supposed to be the starting LF on that team. The opening day OF was DeRosa, Rowand, Bowker. Todd Wellemyer was the 5th starter.

This year again they seem to have succeeded almost despite themselves or despite Sabean. Theriot as opening day 2B. Belt on the bench. A pythag record of just 88 wins. Joaquin Arias with a 97 OPS+ -- his ML OPS is better than his AAA OPS. Pence hits like crap after the trade (not Sabean's fault) but that's OK because Scutaro replaces Melky's bat.

Knowing Sabean, he'll sign Scutaro for 2/$20, Scutaro will stink but that will be OK because Rafael Furcal will be floating around somewhere in 2014, Sabean will grab him and he'll put up a 150 OPS+ for 3 months. The 2014 opening day OF of Delmon Young, Pagan and Aubrey Huff (you read it here first!) will be terrible but that's OK because Vernon Wells will show up with his 127 OPS+ in LF, John Van Benschoten will have a 118 OPS+ in RF while also tossing 40 innings of 135 ERA+ relief and God will come to Grant Desme in a vision and tell him to go play CF for the Giants where he will be Mike Trout for 2 months.
   36. Chip Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:35 AM (#4284779)
Along these lines, one of the things I think Sabean has been very good is at predicting which of his highly rated pitching prospects — and he's had many of them — will pan out, and which won't.


Is it Sabean or Dick Tidrow who is making the predictions on young pitchers?
   37. Steve Treder Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:35 AM (#4284780)
Walt, you rule the intertubes.
   38. Steve Treder Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:36 AM (#4284781)
Is it Sabean or Dick Tidrow who is making the predictions on young pitchers?

What difference does it make, given that Sabean hired Tidrow and has employed him all these years?

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