In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Shield Your Childrens' Eyes

More gruesome scenes tonight at Cineplex Safeco.

The Mariners irrational fixation on proven "veteran" players continues to play nightly. In tonight's episode, J. J. Putz shows how stupid the Mariners were to stock up the roster with fading and faded veteran relievers. The Mariners organization simply is not able to accurately assess the relative value and contribution of minor league players versus marginal veterans.

The second feature tonight was the live disembowelment of Gil Meche by the outfield defense. With Cameron in center and Winn in left, Giambi's and Posada's doubles in the 6th inning are both outs, and it's a different game (at least until Villone puts the game out of reach).

Being aware of the intensity of those offerings, the Mariners do bring out the reliable clowns for a bit of slapstick relief on the telecast. In the eighth inning, we learn from Rizz and Hendu that Dave Hansen's .298 batting average is awesome, because, as a pinch hitter, Hansen is often facing a starting pitcher late in the game. And late in the game, starting pitchers are more difficult to hit against because they've been able to establish a rhythym. Silly me - all this time I've been thinking that late in the game, as starting pitchers tire, it's easier to hit off of them.

But I suppose Rick and Dave are privy to some inside information on Mariners strategy. Maybe that's why we see so many of the Mariners swinging aggressively against certain pitchers - it's the Mariners innovative strategy of trying to keep the other team's pitcher from getting into a rhythym.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


A Momentary Respite

The Mariners have loaded the roster with veterans, in part, because they don't panic and they have experience to know how to react to all variety of situations. So, shouldn't we ask why all of these veterans are so consistently flummoxed when facing a pitcher for the first time? Especially when it's a pitcher that hasn't been much of a problem for less experienced teams?

Anyway, escaping the pain of the Mariners, Frinklin has a note that Sith Lords will be in an upcoming LucasArts gaming release. I wouldn't pay much attention, since I'm not a video gamer. But it does provide a good excuse to put up the link to one of my favorite humor sites on the web, the Sith Academy. The premise underlying this site is that, if there is a school for training Jedi, then there must also be a parallel training program for Sith pupils, the Sith Academy. From that premise, the contributors have created many vignettes of life at the Sith Academy.

And one of my favorite efforts there is Sith Software tech support. Maybe it will help relieve your suffering too.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Ramon Ortiz: stuffed, cooked, and ready to carve

Rob McMillin at 6-4-2 -- an Angels/Dodgers double play blog, discusses Ramon Ortiz's 2004 performance to date:
"the real thing killing Ortiz is his team-leading 16.88 H/9, indicating a pitcher in bad luck... but given his performance, maybe not. He's getting his strikeouts but somehow is managing to find a lot of bats. "
Rob is working with the DIPS assumption that pitchers have little control over the percentage of balls in play that drop for hits. If you look at that DIPS assumption in detail, however, you will find that it does not state that all pitchers are identical in their ability or inability to control the outcome on balls in play. Rather, it presumes that all major league pitchers are sufficiently skilled at avoiding bats that the differences in their ability to control the outcome on balls in play are significantly less than the ordinary variations of chance on balls in play. The corollary is that a pitcher who doesn't attain some threshold ability to avoid bats never makes it to the big leagues.

Occasionally, however, such a player does make it to the big leagues, or a player in the big leagues regresses below that minimum competence. When that happens, the pitcher has a large increase in balls in play that are hits, because batters are consistently hitting the ball hard.
Here in Seattle such pitchers are called Carrara-esque.

So, in the case of a pitchers such as Ortiz, we need to look not only at just the increase in hits, but also how hard the balls are hit. If batters are hitting the pitcher hard, it's more likely that the pitcher just doesn't have it anymore (if he ever did). Conversely if hit rates are up, but the pitcher is not getting hit hard, then it's more likely a change in luck.

Conveniently, The Hardball Times is now publishing pitching statistics that include percentage of balls hit that are classed as line drives (ld%), and those data show that, with an ld% of 0.244, Ortiz has the highest ld% on the team. Couple that situation with more than 4 BB/9 and 1.7 HR/9, and it's an ugly picture if you're an Angels fan.

I don't think Ortiz is a victim of bad luck, I think he's done. But the rest of us can rejoice that the Angels solution to the Ortiz situation is Aaron Sele.


Jay Jaffe on productive outs

Jay Jaffe at Futility Infielder discusses Harold Reynolds and Buster Olney's hackneyed "Productive Outs" thoughts.

If you believe in Productive Outs, and you don't think it worth examining your beliefs using objective information, don't waste your time. On the other hand, if you subscribe to the notion that objective measures are valuable because they can calibrate subjective assessments, you should spend some time with Jaffee's discussion.

Personally, I think this is a classic situation where data can be collected to directly measure the accuracy of one's beliefs. As I've aged from YT to OF I find I've become more opinionated in one key area, viz., the ability of all people, myself included, to wholeheartedly believe comfortable propositions that are demonstrably false.

Part of my fascination with baseball is the interweaving of personal skills within the confines of rules and probable outcomes. Though the actions on the field are subject to predictable outcomes, the poetry of the game remains. In fact, to me it enhances the game - both parts meshing in a way that mirrors larger life. I often see the perpetual engagment between free will and determinism, rendered on a stage we can comprehend with a script we can critique. The players, managers, and commentators are the tragedians, railing the Fates and destined to fail, but currying the favor of the gods just often enough to sustain irrational hope.

I guess my aesthetics differ from others.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Gad, what an Ugly Game

Melvin tries to offer the game to the Twins by bringing in Myers, but Guzman, on behalf of the Twins, refuses to accept. Just Mientkewicz then decides to be sure the message is absolutely clear.

Now we get to see if the Mariners can win a game that has been handed to them first by the umpires then by the Twins.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Welcome to Cynics, Inc.

After two days of voting in the Mariners Wheelhouse poll on whether the Mariners will be Buyers or Sellers at the trade deadline, we have the following results:
  • 34% think the Mariners will pull the big lie and say that releasing Jarvis will eliminate the team's ability to take on salary at the trade deadline.

  • 30% think the Mariners won't be able to decide whether they should buy or sell, and will make deals simply for the sake of making deals.

  • 18% think the Mariners will have delusions of contention, and will trade prospects for veterans.

  • Only one person thinks they will be legitimate contenders.
Wheelhouse readers are certainly a cynical bunch. And Corey thinks I'm pessimistic!!

The poll is still going, so please vote if you haven't done so already. Look for the poll in the right sidebar, near the top of the page.

There's also a nice discussion going in the comments link for the May 1, 2004 post. Jeff Shaw from San Shin has added some comments, as has Rob McMillin from 6-4-2 -- an Angels/Dodgers double play blog.


Monday night without the Mariners

I got it from Sheila O'Malley, and she got it from some others that you can trackback at her website. Sounds as is she should be a Red Sox fan, and she is.

Anyway, here are the rules.
  1. Grab the nearest CD.
  2. Put it in your CD-Player (or start your mp3-player, I-tunes, etc.).
  3. Skip to Song 3 (or load the 3rd song in your 3rd playlist)
  4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions. Don’t name the band, nor the album-title.
Googling not allowed.

I had to fudge a bit, because the first five I grabbed off my stack were instrumentals, until this one came up:
Trail of broken hearts
Looking back at you
Now and from the start
These words will travel true
The godspeed of trust
Will settle the dust
That we've been passing through.
Can anyone identify the song and artist? And feel free to add your own in the comments section.

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