Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hot Stove Winners 2009-2010

  • Fate helps those who help themselves:

Things have ground to a halt in the free agent market and there's not much left out there to begin with and since I have no interest in spending precious words discussing how terrible Kevin Gregg is, it's time for the assessment of the Hot Stove winners for 2009-2010. The incompletes/non winners or losers will be discussed tomorrow; the losers on Friday----unless something monumental happens.


Here are the winners in no particular order:

New York Yankees

Even though they parted ways with the World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and let Johnny Damon walk, they acquired Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez for almost nothing; and signed Nick Johnson at a bargain rate. The Yankees didn't need much to maintain their position, but they filled all of their needs smartly and inexpensively.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles got Kevin Millwood for nothing to front the rotation and mentor their impressive load of young pitching; signed veteran bats Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins to short-term deals; and shored up the bullpen with Mike Gonzalez. The Orioles could legitimately loiter around .500 with a little luck and maturation from their young pitching.

Minnesota Twins

They acquired a power bat at shortstop in J.J. Hardy for the immature Carlos Gomez; they signed Jim Thome for a very low salary and Thome can still hit; and most importantly, they're clearing the one major issue they had as they enter their new ballpark, Target Field----Joe Mauer's contract.

I repeatedly said that Mauer was going nowhere; he was never going to leave the Twins and the Twins wouldn't let him leave. Still there were people who thought the Red Sox, Yankees or whomever had a shot at Mauer. Now he's closing in on a contract extension to stay. He was not leaving. Ever.

Seattle Mariners

I'm still not as prepared as others are to call GM Jack Zduriencik a "genius" (we've seen it before with Billy Beane----how's that going?) but he is clearly smart and gutsy.

I was iffy on the signing of Chone Figgins to a $36 million contract; they shouldn't have brought Ken Griffey Jr back since it was done on sentiment rather than anything baseball-related; but all of the off-season questions were rendered meaningless when Cliff Lee fell into the Mariners lap thanks to the Phillies stupidity. They also agreed to a long-term extension with Felix Hernandez to lock him up.

St. Louis Cardinals

They kept manager Tony La Russa, which was imperative; and retained Matt Holliday, which was their main off-season player priority not just to protect Albert Pujols in the lineup, but to send the message that they were trying to win. Pujols's contract is up after 2011 and they have to prepare to pay to keep him even if he's willing to give a hometown discount, which he undoubtedly will. They lost Joel Pineiro, but Brad Penny can slide into the rotation neatly if he's healthy.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Many disliked the trade they made sending a load of young pitching away for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. Everyone knows by now how unimpressed I am with Kennedy, but I think Jackson looked fantastic last season with the Tigers (he had a Dave Stewart-thing going on) before early season overwork sapped his stamina late in the season. He could be a big winner in Arizona and I wasn't all that thrilled with the pitchers they dealt away to get Jackson. Max Scherzer should be a closer and Daniel Schlereth didn't do it for me. The Diamondbacks also signed Adam LaRoche to a very team-friendly, 1-year, $7 million deal.

  • Viewer Mail 2.3.2010:

Isaac at A Baseball Thing writes RE stat zombies:

Well, maybe I haven't looked on the right places, but I dont recall ever reading at stat sites like Fangraphs any admission of being wrong, and I have seen that here multiple times, so Onix really needs to get his facts straight.

Not to worry. I think he's still looking for his testicles after Beeeebzy got done with him. Then I kicked them across the room for good measure.

You've never seen them admit that they're wrong for a simple reason----they don't admit they're wrong. Some people see it as a sign of weakness if they acknowledge a mistake or inaccuracy when it is, in fact, the opposite. It wasn't the fault of the computer projections or their faulty theories, it was that the players didn't live up to their part of the bargain; it makes perfect sense.

John Seal writes RE PECOTA:

Watching the PECOTA projections is almost as much fun as the baseball season itself. A few days ago, my A's were winning the they've slumped to third. They just need to put together a good 7 or 8 game winning streak, and they can be on top again!

I didn't realize that their "objective reality" is as much of a floating bit of random chaos as it is for non-stat zombies.

You may be onto something, John. They've slipped up more than they know. We're discovering their endgame. I think they'd prefer to have a season without said season actually being played. That would complete the journey from a languid baseball game on a warm spring day in the sunshine to what they want it to be. Rather than an enjoyable diversion, it would be spent in a dank basement surrounded by people that look like like Nate Silver. Personally, I'd rather look at girls; but that's just me.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE J.J. Putz and the stat zombies:

Ya know, Putz looks like the type of guy who'd stab me in the back. I'm not surprised by his comments at all -- true or false.

As for the FoxNews/StatZombie retort... I think the line about Halladay sums it up nicely. Now, if you will excuse me, much maniacal cackling is required.

For all we know he's telling the truth about the non-physical and the elbow pain, but if I had to guess, I'd say Putz told the Mets he was okay to pitch; and if he wasn't, that's on him.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Putz:

I'm sorry about my absence, Boss.

The comments made by Putz remind me of a situation here in the Mexican Football League. Some guy by the name of Carmona was caught doping while he was playing on the National team, got suspended, then caught again in a local major league team. He was suspended for life, and now he sued the Mexican Football Federation, threatening to talk about all the dirt inside the national team. I believe Putz it's just angry at the Mets because he does not have a big contract to close, and it's February already.

No need to apologize. It was handled.

Every team has these dirty little secrets lingering around. The main difference is that the Mets have become such a running joke that: A) reporters are sniffing around for more stuff to use to hammer them; and B) February is generally a slow news cycle in baseball, so they have to find things about which to write because they haven't the talent, imagination or work ethic to come up with something original. (See Olney, Buster.)

Can't think of anything for a column? Let's attack the Mets. It's gone from accurate questioning about the team's protocol; to cheap shots. Now it's ludicrous.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Sarah Palin:

The other day a guy called me the Sarah Palin of bloggers because my posts were so clueless. I was going to take it as an insult, but maybe he meant I should run for President. Hmm.

The only way you'd be on a level with Sarah Palin is if you got a full lobotomy.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE PECOTA:


Pecota beat you. It wouldn't be such a big deal if you didn't thrash it every chance you get. But when you are defeated, you instead attack "stat zombies" rather than admit that you were wrong. You made a few good predictions, it made a few good predictions. It won in the end.

And sure, It didn't know that Halladay might asked to be traded. But that isn't what it is trying to do. You think anyone solely uses Pecota? Anywhere? They would be so far behind if they relied on nothing else but a computer projection system. And to rely on only one? That would be even dumber.

I'm not sure what's more disturbing Joe, that you sat there and calculated the numbers of who was "right" and "wrong" and who "beat" whom; or that you've been reading me for this long and still don't get it.

For someone who tries so desperately to go beneath the surface (dismissing wins/losses; batting average; etc), you use the baseline result when it conveniences you. Counting up the accuracy or inaccuracy of a random prediction like the number of wins a team is going to have at the end of a long season is the same thing as saying that a pitcher who won 18 games is automatically a top pitcher without examining how he got those wins.

Did PECOTA "beat" me with their win totals? Probably. Did they actually "beat" me? You tell me. I had four playoff teams right; they had three. I had teams doing well which PECOTA had at the bottom of their respective divisions; I nailed the Rays because what happened to them was impossible to quantify when looking at the numerical factors. If you take the full predictions in the context I intended them, then I "won".

As loathe as you are to admit it, there are people who rely on the insipid PECOTA projections as their lifeblood because turning their back on the faulty system would send their entire lives into disarray as they might actually have to do some thinking and analysis.

Plugging numbers into a computer program is easy; it takes no work other than typing; but is it right? It takes an analytical mind and some true knowledge about people and the game to do that and this is something the hardest of the hard core stat zombies haven't the capacity for. They're going down with the ship; they have no alternative.

  • A recipe idea:

I'm thinking of formulating a recipe called "CHICKEN PECOTA".

It'll require rotting chicken; it'll be tough as shoe leather and taste like furniture polish; but a substantial number of tasters will insist that it's the best dish they've ever had because of computerized projection systems tell their tastebuds so. It's win-win.


She-Fan said...

Chicken Pecota! Why not? Some mushrooms, wine, lemon butter....and a whole lot of crow.

Joe said...

What do you mean I "calculated the numbers?" Onix did that, not me.

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