Mets Merized Online » moneyball http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 04 Feb 2016 19:08:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Talent vs. Development: Are Mets Exploiting A New Market Inefficiency? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/talent-vs-development-are-mets-exploiting-a-new-market-inefficiency.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/talent-vs-development-are-mets-exploiting-a-new-market-inefficiency.html/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:17:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168577 sandy alderson

When Sandy Alderson was hired by the Mets as their new GM in 2010 there was a flurry of conjecture about what sort of effect he would have on the team. Words like “Moneyball with money” were being thrown around by Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi, and everyone started speculating about what exactly this new version of moneyball would look like. Would it be high OBP guys like in Oakland? Would it be right-handed pitchers with durability profiles? Would it be defense up the middle and power from unlikely sources? Would it be outfielders with allergies to cat dander?

Since that time, most of us have settled into the realization that Alderson and his brain brigade didn’t really unveil anything unique in their approach to player acquisition. With the exception of a tendency towards high schoolers with good eyes at the plate (an eye for an eye!), there was little to satiate the masses who were waiting impatiently for Moneyball 2.0. It never materialized.

What I think many of us failed to appreciate, however, was that exploiting market inefficiencies was nothing new in MLB. Ever since the 90’s when Oakland managed to piece together a winning amalgamate from overlooked and undervalued spare parts, teams all across the league hired numbers-crunchers in an attempt to find other players possessing favorable and overlooked competitive adaptations. Funny thing is that with the exception of OBP, not much else had been overlooked … Oh sure, some teams went after character guys while others tried to secure command and control pitching while still other teams went for power arms, but that had all been done before in the hundred-plus year history of the game.

But there was definitely something different at work with these guys. Sandy DePo and Ricciardi are not the sort to sit back and follow tried and true paradigms. They were advertised as innovators and the more I observed their often secretive machinations (especially on the part of DePodesta who I imagine still lives in his underground numbers bunker deep beneath Citi Field, coming out every few days to test new Frisbee designs and shake hands with his children), the more I felt they were up to something, I was certain of it.

I don’t think DePo would have been coy and evasive early on when questioned about what sort of organizational innovations he had in store if he wasn’t actually hiding something. He openly stated that he wouldn’t share his angle even if he had one … but the way he said it made me wonder.

Now I’m a words guy, language is my thing … I pride myself on my ability to read between the lines and derive whatever hidden connotation an inconspicuous comment may yield. The phrase that stood out for me when Collins first hit the scene was “muscle memory.” I swear that first spring I remember at least 4 or 5 players using the term “muscle memory” during interviews. That smacked heavily of an organizational initiative, a mantra.

At the same time Sandy Alderson was spouting loquacious on his desire to streamline the organization from top to bottom with an emphasis on adapting every level to a uniform set of principles. A complete overhaul of our player development program.

Lots of GM’s try to leave their mark by establishing a distinct organizational ethos … nothing new about that right? Only Sandy Alderson and his minions referred to this organizational cohesion as if it were the thing. Almost as if cohesion of purpose across levels was in fact their angle, as if it was the innovation that would somehow create that elusive “unfair advantage.” No, it couldn’t be, I thought. How boring would that be? The organizational stuff is simply a byproduct of Sandy’s military days. He knows how important uniformity and cohesion are for any successful organization … there had to be something else.

nimmo reynolds sand gnats

But as the years progressed this mantra persisted, and the minors saw a distinct resurgence with more wins from more of our minor league affiliates, fueled by the persistent drone of the same principles across every level. Muscle memory over and over and over.

Then there were the drafts … one high school player after another. Over and over the Mets drafted teenagers who were years and years away.

When you put all this together I think what you have is something akin to our
“new moneyball.” The Mets have designed what they feel is a system that will take raw youngsters with the right physical and intellectual temperaments and graduate them successfully to the majors by means of immersion in a uniform set of principles that they believe will give them a competitive advantage. Those principles of course involve getting on base, plate discipline, attacking the zone, all invoked with thousands of hours of mind numbing repetition.

Now it is certainly true that with younger players you have greater control over whatever developmental trajectory they happen to be on. Older players are what they are, they don’t have much time to put it all together before their bodies hit their physical prime years of 27, 28, and 29 (and for some reason 31) … With a high school player you have 8 to 10 years to make sure they get the reps they need before they hit their physical prime … which comes out to right around 10,000 hours of “practice.” With college players you have about half that time.

And that’s where the innovation comes in. The notion that talent isn’t some magical gift bestowed upon us by the gods or heredity, that given comparable physical attributes the more “talented” individual is almost always the one with the most hours of practice.

As Malcolm Gladwell in his groundbreaking book Outliers pointed out, the 10,000 hour rule is the single greatest predictor of “elite” performance, whether it’s playing a violin or striking out major league batters. On the Mets, “muscle memory” has become a catch phrase for expert status, and it takes 10,000 hours of practice (around 10 years) to achieve elite performance levels. It is a remarkable predictor with the highest levels of performance coming at right around the 10,000 hour mark across a wide variety of disciplines.

What Alderson and his assistants are attempting is a shift away from a scouting/talent paradigm to a tools/development paradigm … and Brandon Nimmo is their poster child. Now I’m not saying they’re actively seeking out blank-slate 18-year olds with solid physical attributes and little else. Naturally you’re going to draft the more talented player when available. But I think what’s interesting is the notion that the Mets might be inclined to draft a raw but physically gifted younger player over a perhaps more “talented” older player because by acquiring the younger player they control the trajectory and the progress, while “talent” at lower levels doesn’t always translate to higher levels.

The approach reminds me a little of the rifle range in boot camp. Our instructors loved guys who’d never fired a weapon because although they were raw, they didn’t have any bad habits, they were able to train us the correct way. I’d never touched a firearm in my life yet I shot high expert my very first try. Similarly this Met front office believes they are more likely to succeed by promoting a system that will produce elite performers from the scratch of raw physical aptitude rather than relying on occasionally finding the lightning in a bottle that is what we sometimes describe as “a natural.”

In the end the proof is in the pudding as they say, and the first batch of this particular confection will hit the stage late next summer barring some cataclysmic barrage of injuries or misfortune. It will be immensely interesting to see whether it was all worth the wait.

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Di-JEST: A Mets Popularity Survey http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-a-mets-popularity-survey.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/di-jest-a-mets-popularity-survey.html/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:00:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165009 new-york-mets braintrust collins, katz, wilpon alderson

I’m a sucker for all the catchy internet sports stuff.  Whether it’s a chat or an article that starts with a number (“14 Things the Mets Must Do To Become Respectable”) and I’m all over them.

Another popular thing is surveys.  I don’t know how to put a real survey up online, but here’s the one I would run here at MMO if I had the computer “skill set” to do so.

Select all that apply.

JEFF WILPON

o Not so bad. Well intentioned, gets bad rap.

o Bad owner, got AAA team exiled to Las Vegas.

o Nepotism pure and simple.

o Where do I sign up for the lynch mob?

FRED WILPON

o Old now, not worth complaining about.

o Bernie Madoff’s buddy – that says a lot

o Driving force for Citi (aka Debits) Field

o More interested in real estate deals than in having a representative baseball team payroll.

SAUL KATZ

o Don’t know him, so won’t mix in.

o Heard he’d like to sell so I kind of like him.

o Katz, Katz… Hmm, does he own a Jewish deli?

o Related to Fred and Jeff so how good could he be?

SANDY ALDERSON

o Has made some shrewd moves for prospects.

o His 4 year plan to create a “sustainable” winner has worked out about as well as it did for the Soviet Union.

o Hired and continues to support Terry Collins which speaks volumes.

o Mets likely hired the wrong Moneyball guy.

TERRY COLLINS

o Managers don’t make that much difference.  Besides, he looks the part.

o For a former director of player development it seems he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to play the kids.

o Destroys one relief pitcher and then moves on to destroy the next in line.

o Seems to use Jerry Manuel’s leftover Ouija board in making up lineups and in-game strategies.

DAVID WRIGHT

o Still like him, but liked him a lot better back when he could hit.

o Never met a double play he couldn’t hit into.

o He’s the captain, but those are the guys who go down with the ship.

o He makes how many millions of dollars a year??????

MATT HARVEY

o Superstar pitcher albeit with a big mouth.

o Love the pitching. The controversial stuff – not so much.

o Always nice to see at Rangers hockey games.

o Should listen to crack medical staff and not throw hard til 2015.  Because with their track record… well, you know…

JAKE deGROM

o Rookie stud pitcher with super-cool hair.

o Rookie stud pitcher – how about a trim?

o A Mets pitcher who can hit: ding, ding, ding!

o A Mets pitcher who can field: ding, ding, ding, ding!!!

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The Clock Is Ticking On Sandy Alderson’s Plan For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-clock-is-ticking-on-sandy-aldersons-plan-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-clock-is-ticking-on-sandy-aldersons-plan-for-the-mets.html/#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 21:07:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133923 mets fans thanks

We keep hearing the word “plan” tossed around this winter. Nobody knows what the plan is, as it seems to change from day-to-day and week-to-week. As legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks would say, this Mets off-season has looked a lot like “two monkeys trying to hump a football.”

The only “plan,” as I see it, is to keep the Mets fans thinking there is a plan so that they continue to buy tickets and merchandise. However, there are no plans to build a winning team with bottom of the barrel players. Telling the fan base they are using “moneyball” tactics to find undervalued players has been nothing but a well-developed con.

What the Mets call undervalued players, everyone else calls crap. There is a reason why these players are still available in January and February. Are we to believe that every other team ignored these players, with all the advanced statistics out there today? Give me a break already.

The truth is, moneyball doesn’t exist anymore. We are seeing the players and agents getting wiser and demanding more money for their “undervalued” skills. If you can tell me what is undervalued about a career .235 hitter, then please do. I would love to hear all about it.

The funny thing is, the portion of the fan base that loves the Chris Young signing for his power and defense are the same fans that spoke against the Mets pursuing Justin Upton by marginalizing his power numbers as a result of hitting in Arizona last year. Yet all of Young’s big power years came when he played in Arizona.

So the Mets sign Chris Young and his career averages are a about 18 homeruns per year and a batting average of .235, to go along with solid defense. I’m pretty sure Matt den Dekker could put up similar offensive numbers, play better defense, and do it for about $7 million less…moneyball, huh?

Undervalued players are becoming more and more overvalued due to supply and demand, yet they continue to toss around sensationalized words like “moneyball” to keep the fan base at ease with them signing crappy players because they refuse to spend money.

Why do they do it? To keep us buying tickets and merchandise, that’s why.

Can you win without spending boat loads of money?

Sure you can. But that’s if your core of players is solid, and everything still has to come together. Let’s not forget, we were told this was supposed to be the winter of the big free agency shopping spree.

At this point, the only way the Mets can become competitive would be for them to mortgage the future by trading away the majority of their top tier prospects for impact players. The problem is that is a risky proposition—very risky.

What if they do that, and still don’t win? Then they are worse off than when they started, so I doubt the Mets are going to do that.

justin maxwell royals

Is there a difference between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets at this point?

There is, actually.

The Royals organization doesn’t mess around with the fan-bases’ heads and get them to believe that spending is in the future…or winning is on the way. They set clear expectations, so the fan base has no reason to be outraged.

People question why Mets’ fans feel entitled to something? As if we are crazy to think the way we do.

Well, had the organization not set such high expectations, I don’t think there would be as much of a buzz as there is right now. For three long and agonizing years, the organization said that 2014 would be the year that everything gets turned around. And now, it seems like that is not going to happen.

Ike Davis

To be honest, I think there was a plan. I think this team believed that Ike Davis and Lucas Duda were going to turn into legit core players on the team, and then they were only going to have to add a couple of small pieces this winter in order to get competitive again.

Unfortunately, the plan backfired. Davis and Duda can be packaged together and probably only gain a couple of marginal prospects in return, and Matt Harvey’s injury was the proverbial cherry on the top of their plan backfiring.

Rather than the organization step to the plate and let us know that things are not working out as planned, they continue to spoon feed us manure.

Even though fans will look at this plan as a failure, Sandy Alderson will ultimately get his contract extended, as he is the perfect GM for the Wilpon’s new strategy. Alderson will not swayed by public opinion or what fans think. He was brought in to save the Wilpon’s money, not build a winning team. They wanted a guy that would not cave to the fans’ outcries of spending money.

Before Alderson, Omar Minaya brought us wins, but the Wilpon’s thought he spent foolishly and burdened the organization with bad contracts. Now they have switched to the opposite direction and have a GM in place that seems perfectly happy spending little money. We probably need to be somewhere in-between.

Enter 2015.

The past few years Mets fans have been able to joke and say things like “we’re thankful we aren’t Pirates fans.” It’s sure getting harder and harder to find things to be thankful for as Mets fans these days, isn’t it?

mmo

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MMO Flashback: Grady Sizemore Is Still Out There – A Risk The Mets Should Take? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mmo-flashback-grady-sizemore-is-still-out-there-a-risk-the-mets-should-take.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mmo-flashback-grady-sizemore-is-still-out-there-a-risk-the-mets-should-take.html/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 17:58:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98869 I wrote a piece last October questioning whether the Mets should take a shot on Grady Sizemore. He should be fully recovered from knee injuries now, and could be signed on a minor league deal.

Why not take a shot?

I’m not talking about making Sizemore the main signing this off-season, I’m talking about taking a shot on a player that could be had relatively cheap, and potentially be this year’s version of Marlon Byrd.

The Mets seem comfortable going with Juan Lagares in center field in 2014, which is good, because the Mets could slot Sizemore in left field, and not put the added strain of playing center on his knees. 

I’m not convinced Eric Young Jr. should be handed the starting left field job and be the leadoff hitter in 2014, so why not bring in Sizemore and have him compete for a corner outfield spot—especially after seeing EYJR’s salary is going to triple this season.

The Mets probably won’t be in a position to bring in two big bats for the outfield, and unless they flip a couple of players to gain a second big bat, Sizemore could be a nice, low-risk, high-reward signing this winter. 

Original Post – 10/16/12

This is not breaking news – the Mets are in need of a lead off hitter and outfielders as we move towards the 2013 season. Some people may be ready to close the door on Grady Sizemore‘s career, but there is still value there. We are still talking about a player that was on his way to super stardom before some injuries side tracked his career.

After missing the entire 2012 season, Sizemore should be fully healed, rested, and ready to finish what he started a few seasons ago. There isn’t a team in a better position to take a risk on Sizemore than the New York Mets.

Many people will scoff at my last statement and argue that the reward isn’t worth the risk in Sizemore’s case. They will argue he’s too injury prone. Seriously…who cares at this point? Beggars can’t be choosers. With the outlook of the Mets outfield in 2013, adding Sizemore would bring Mets fans a glimmer of hope, and add another player with superstar potential to help David Wright out (pending him re-upping with the team).

The bottom line is the Mets are going to have to take some risks if they want to be able to get competitive again, and fast. The Mets are a Moneyball team now, right? Well, if my memory serves me correctly, one of the main story lines in Moneyball was that they went after a player in Scott Hatteberg, who other teams were avoiding due to injury risk, because they saw value there. Even Billy Beane, lord Moneyball himself, understood that there has to be some sort of risk involved if you are ever going to achieve greatness.

Signing Sizemore on the cheap screams Moneyball.

It’s time for the Mets to start taking a some calculated risks. Sizemore may be a risk, but oh the reward the Mets would receive for taking that risk if Sizemore is even 2/3 the player he was in 2008. Cleveland seems ready to finally part ways with Sizemore who is a free-agent this off-season. MLBTradeRumors.com reported in August that two scouts said that Sizemore is worth signing if there isn’t much guaranteed money at stake. Hopefully one of those scouts was from the New York Mets.

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So Where Are All Those Moneyball Players…Take 2? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/so-where-are-all-those-moneyball-players-take-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/so-where-are-all-those-moneyball-players-take-2.html/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 17:05:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124542 I cannot help but remember back in mid-May when ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin commented in his blog about the lack of “moneyball” players the Mets have signed since Sandy Alderson took the reigns in New York.

That post by Rubin sparked this conversation on MMO.

First, I think the phrase “moneyball” players is a little silly. Essentially what Adam is asking is, where are the undervalued players signed to reasonable deals that are outperforming their contract?

That’s the issue Rubin had when he said “It sure would be nice to have a few more Lyle Overbay types.”

That got me thinking, since today is clearly Marlon Byrd appreciation day at MMO – lets talk a deeper look at not just Byrd’s season to date, but also the other corner OF’s the Mets could have signed as a free agent. Oh, and just for fun – I added Lyle Overbay.

jessep chart

Seems to me, the Mets could have done a lot worse not only in terms of player production but in contracts offered?

Sure, Byrd is just one example and every GM has his plus moves and minus moves and we can debate forever every single transaction ever made.

The truth is, guys like Byrd, Jeremy Hefner, LaTroy Hawkins and David Aardsma are four examples on this roster of the type of undervalued move the Mets are capable of making.

I’m no moneyball expert (if there is such a thing as somebody who reads a book well?), but I believe Marlon Byrd is the “moneyball player” you’re looking for Mr. Rubin.

Perhaps we can call him, Moneyball Marlon?

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Who is Greg Burke? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/who-is-greg-burke.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/who-is-greg-burke.html/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:33:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110875 greg burke

Back in November, the Mets announced they had signed a right-handed relief pitcher named Greg Burke to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. When I heard of the signing, it reminded me of the scene at the beginning of the movie Major League where the Cleveland fans are all giving their take on roster moves the team made, and the guy in the diner asks “Mitchell Freidman?” In similar fashion, after the signing was announced, Mets fans asked “Greg Burke?”

Who's Greg  Burke???

Who’s Greg Burke???

Burke is an easy guy to point out on the field because he has a very distinct motion. You see, Burke is a side-winder. Side-arm pitching is somewhat of a lost art, similar to the knuckle ball. When you find a guy who is effective, he can wreak havoc on a lineup. The problem with side-winders is, and the reason why most pitchers avoid style of delivery, because you immediately turn yourself into a righty/lefty specialist. A right-handed side-winder, as Burke is, would be incredibly difficult for a right-handed batter to face.

The motion looks weird, the ball comes from a completely different angle, and it just makes the hitter feel very uncomfortable in the batter’s box. However, for a left-handed hitter, it would almost work to their advantage to face a righty side-winder. They would have more time to see the pitch coming across and out of the side-winders hand. A left-handed hitter would feel much more comfortable batting against a right-handed side-winder than a right-handed hitter would. So Burke, like many pitchers trying to stay in the show, have mastered a lost art. He is out of options, and hopefully becoming a side-winding righty specialist will keep him in the show for one more year.

Another movie I am immediately reminded of when seeing Burke, is Moneyball. In Moneyball, an overweight Jonas Hill who we are supposed to believe is representing Paul DePodesta, is virtually obsessed with Chad Bradford, a sidewinding pitcher that Hill’s character believes can be the most effective reliever in their pen.

I’m not so sure DePodesta thinks Burke will be the most effective reliever in the bullpen for the Mets, that is if he makes the team out of camp, but he definitely has the ability to get right-handed hitters out. While I’m not a big believer in bullpen specialists, I think that Burke could provide some decent value with his deceptive pitching style. For at least one go around, the hitters will be very confused when they face Burke, and as long as you get him out of the game before the hitters can adjust, he can be effective.

In 2012, Burke was with the Baltimore Orioles, and split time between AA and AAA. He pitched a total of 64 innings and had a miniscule 1.53 ERA. That is promising. He was named an organizational All-Star by MiLB.com in 2012.

It’s yet to be seen if Burke sticks with the big league club after camp breaks, but he definitely has something the Mets are in need of—the ability to get guys out. Burke is a true underdog, having a brief stint with the Padres back in 2009, but spending most of his career riding buses and staying in motels playing the minor leagues. Everyone loves an underdog story. He has shown the ability to get right-handed hitters out, and hopefully he does enough to earn a spot on the 2013 Mets. Everyone here at MMO will be rooting for him.

addicted to mets button

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MMO Post of the Week: Are Advanced Statistics Hurting Or Helping The Game? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/mmo-post-of-the-week-is-advanced-statistics-hurting-or-helping-the-game.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/mmo-post-of-the-week-is-advanced-statistics-hurting-or-helping-the-game.html/#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2013 20:28:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=104338 mmo encore presentationSomewhere along the line baseball became more than just a game.

Once upon a time, baseball was a simple game. The goal is to score more runs than your opponent. Each team is given 27 outs to score as many runs as they can. In order to score runs, a team’s players have to get on base. Once a player gets on base it was the other players’ jobs to drive them home to score runs. On the other hand, the defense’s job is to get 27 outs allowing the opposition to score the fewest amount of runs. Whoever scores more runs in 9 innings of play wins – simple.

Now let’s fast forward to the 1980s. The 1980s were famous for Nintendo, big hair bands, Reaganomics, and the invention of rotisserie baseball.

Fantasy baseball exploded onto the scene in the 80s, and the men that played this game were looking for ways to build better teams. They wanted to build better teams in order to take home the lucrative prize money that came along with winning their rotisserie league. They used different combinations of stats to form equations, which in return would spew out which players they should select on their team.

Yes, the advanced stats that the game uses today were ultimately developed by men that maybe never even played the game. They were simply looking to build better fantasy teams. It leads the people with advanced knowledge of how the game is played on the field to butt heads with those that sat at their desk and computer doing all the math.

 

Photo Credit: bronxbanterblog.com

Photo Credit: bronxbanterblog.com

Bill James, the father of advanced statistics and sabermetrics, didn’t start to gather a serious following until the mid to late 1990s. Until then, he published his yearly baseball reviews and would sell 500 copies per year if he was lucky.

The game wasn’t ready for the story he was trying to tell. James was basically telling everyone in the game that they have been looking at the game improperly for nearly 100 years. Advanced statistics were born. He broke down nearly every single aspect of the game, except defense, which he was never able to develop an accurate statistical rating for.

But did the game really need the advanced statistics?

The game had survived over 100 years just fine without advanced statistics. But now, in every team’s organization, there are mathematicians working in this area. The question is, is it really necessary?

The reason why sabermetrics and advanced statistics took over the game in the 90s is because that is the when player salaries started to get to the point where some sort of projection and analysis was needed. Owners wanted to know if it was really worth it to spend the money on player X.

Baseball had officially become a full-fledged business.

In every MBA program across America, students are often required to take a course dedicated to statistics and spreadsheet analysis. The students are taught how to use Excel spreadsheets and programs like Risk Solver to make business decisions. If you are under the assumption that the CEO of a big company makes decisions based on his/her gut you are mistaken.

More often than not, the decisions are made by a computer than runs simulations based on the data that the decision maker inputs. The program takes all the data and then it gives you the most logical decision after running all the simulations.

It’s actually pretty cool. You could build a model that can tell you the best location to build an ice cream shop, based on three different locations, with three different average yearly temperatures, three different traffic patterns, and three different populations in the towns they’re in. Not only will it tell you the best location to build your ice cream shop, but the expected revenue at each location.

The same thing can be done with baseball players – in theory that is.

Everyone knows that Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta’s use of advanced statistics and sabermetrics officially put them on the map. Their use was chronicled in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

The book that exposed Billy Beane's strategies.

The book that exposed Billy Beane’s strategies.

Beane used the advanced statistics to remain competitive with a team that had the lowest payroll in the league. Once he started winning, people started to question how the heck the Athletics could be winning when they were only spending one-third of the money of the other teams. At that point, every Tom, Dick and Harry fell in love with sabermetrics.

Sabermetrics became the key to unlocking hidden baseball talent.

But here is the fundamental flaw with peoples’ understanding of what Billy Beane actually did – Beane wasn’t intentionally trying to win by spending the least amount of money he could. Beane wanted to spend money. He wasn’t trying to do his owner a favor by spending the least amount of money on building a team. He was simply in a situation where his hands were tied. He had to think outside of the box. He had to get more efficient with spending what little money he had. That’s it.

Somehow Beane’s strategy became an excuse for teams to spend less money, and try to build teams using a philosophy that Beane only developed because he had to and not because he wanted to.

Players are now investments, plain and simple. If a team is going to make an investment, the projections, spreadsheets, models and simulations have to all tell the same story – that the player is worth the investment.

However, there is a problem with advanced statistics – the game is still ultimately played on the field. You cannot remove the human element from the game, and no statistic can factor that in. And while past performance is a good indicator of future performance, there is only so much weight that advanced statistics should carry.

Advanced statistics paint an imperfect picture of the game when used improperly. Here is why:

Advanced statistics use inputs which are plugged into an equation and are determined by the person developing the statistics in order to arrive at a desired outcome. They often have to finagle with different stats until they get an answer that makes sense. What also comes into play is the developer’s bias.

If someone is playing with stats in order to make their equation work, how is that more accurate in telling me which player is better than if I used the old school statistics (OBP, AVG, ERA, etc.) which have been used for the past 100-plus years, and my eyes, used to watch the players play?

Let’s take a look at the Holy Bible. There is a show on TV that comes on one of the learning channels every once in awhile which basically alludes to the fact that the bible has a hidden code in it, which not only predicted things that happened in the past, but also can predict future events. Now on the surface, they did prove that there was a code in the bible. But is there really a code in the bible, or was it manipulation by the developer to come to a desired goal/outcome?

Odds are there isn’t a code in the bible, but this just shows how the manipulation of data can get to a desired outcome when played with long enough. One of the major issues with scientists to this day is trying to conduct scientific studies and not have their bias come into play. Bias alters outcomes.

The bottom line is that baseball is still a game where there is still a lot of luck involved. For instance, if a player is half a step to the left or right, a ball drops in that maybe shouldn’t have been a hit. Which stat factors any of these things in? The argument is the law of averages balances everything out. In the end, the math is the constant.

However, there are internal and external factors affecting the game constantly. These factors cannot be built into models. These factors cannot be accounted for statistically.

Where a card counter at the black jack table can turn the odds against the Casino by using probability and a system of advanced mathematical equations to gain an advantage, there is a set number of cards in the deck, and only a certain number of things can occur to account for. You can’t do that in baseball. In baseball, there are an infinite number of things all taking place simultaneously which affect the outcome of every pitch.

The problem at large is that the game has changed significantly since the introduction of advanced statistics. There are too many statistics which are complicating the game. They cause managers to over-manage situations.

For example, is a lefty specialist really necessary in a team’s bullpen? According to advanced statistics they are. But when it’s all said and done a bullpen pitcher is simply a pitcher who could not make it as a starting pitcher. Very few pitchers are groomed to be in the bullpen. In other words, why would I bring a pitcher into a game, and take out my better pitcher, simply because statistics show that one guy is better at getting left-handed batters out?

It doesn’t make sense. The best players should be on the field.

Statistics tell front offices they need lefty specialists. They tell the manager that they better go against their gut which tells them to leave their better pitcher in the game. It sounds crazy when you think about it. I’m going to take out my better pitcher because statistics show that over time, a pitcher of lesser quality has done a better job of getting left-handed hitters out? It doesn’t sound logical.

Now I have decided to take my best pitcher available out of the game to bring in a lefty specialist in order to get one hitter out. After he gets that batter out, I have to take him out of the game to put in an even lesser quality pitcher? Why not just leave my best pitcher in to get the lefty out. Now I have changed the odds of getting the remaining hitters out, all because stats have told me to take my best pitcher out of the game.

The entire landscape of the game changed because of a single stat.

Is there a stat that shows the odds of getting the remaining hitters out in a game after I made that decision? There is a stat that shows me that I should bring a lefty specialist into the game, but not a stat that shows the odds that I will get the remainder of hitters out now that I made that pitching change.

That is just one example of how stats have changed the game, but the question that still remains is – are all of these advanced statistics helping or hurting the game?

Cases can be made for both sides, but the truth of the matter is that all these stats are really good when looked at from the surface. It’s how the people behind the scenes use them that will ultimately determine whether they are good or bad for the game.

My daughter preparing for a front office job someday - you can never start them too early.

My daughter preparing for a front office job someday – you can never start them too early.

Advanced baseball statistics is very similar to the app market for smart phones. App developers are always looking to develop the next Angry Birds, and stat developers are looking to develop the next stat which proves that they have the secret formula to determine who the best player in the league is.

There is no secret formula. Baseball is played on the field, not in a laboratory, and not in a computer program. There isn’t a single stat or mathematical equation that can determine the outcomes on the field.

Nothing will ever change that.

 

Follow Mitch Petanick on Twitter.

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Some Things To Watch For This Playoff Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/some-things-to-watch-for-this-playoff-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/some-things-to-watch-for-this-playoff-season.html/#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2012 18:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98006 I am reminded of that Christmas song…”it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It doesn’t get any better than playoff time. I’m bummed that the Mets aren’t playing significant baseball again this fall, but I guess it does give us an opportunity to sit back and enjoy these games and celebrate this great game of baseball, without the stress of having our team’s fate on the line. Anyway, here are a few things to watch that could make a major impact on this year’s playoff picture:

 

Wild Card winner getting first two games at home in Divison Series

When the Marlins won the World Series in 1997 they had the same first two games at home, which gave them an added advantage. Going up against the San Francisco Giants in the Divison Series, they won the first two games at home, and then the first game back in San Fran to complete the sweep. They later went on to win the World Series. If that series started in San Fran, who knows how it would have turned out. Expect similar upsets this year.

Not having Mariano Rivera will hurt the Yankees chances

This is a given. Mariano is the greatest closer in the history of the game, and post-season play. Aside from a hiccup in the 2001 World Series, Rivera has been flawless. When the Yankees made it to the 8th inning with a lead in previous years, it was a lock they would walk away with a win. Don’t expect similar results this year.

The Rangers will go as far as Josh Hamilton takes them

If Josh Hamilton catches fire, the Rangers will be playing in the World Series. If he continues to slump, the Rangers will make an early playoff exit. During a contract year, if Hamilton wants to really cash in, now is the time to really step up. I think he will.

Oakland’s weaknesses will be exposed

Like Billy Beane’s great moneyball teams of the early 2000s, the Athletics will ultimately be exposed in the playoffs against the Tigers, and eliminated in the ALDS. Maybe if they continue to shock everyone, and go on to win the World Series, Brad Pitt will play Beane in the Moneyball sequel. In other news, the comedic spoof of Moneyball, The Moneyball Mets, is slated for release in 2013.

Bryce Harper

Rookie Mike Trout has been all the talk of 2012, but Harper has been lurking in the shadows waiting to get his chance to steal back the rookie spotlight. This is his opportunity to show the world that he is still the best young talent in the game. Bryce Harper doesn’t sink back into the crowd, and is going to lift his play to another level with all the national attention. He will prove why Sports Illustrated dubbed him as “the chosen one.” I wonder if he will give us a few more memorable quotes along the way – That’s a clown question ‘bro.

These were just a few things that will make for a very interesting playoff season. There are a slew of other story lines that will impact this year’s playoff picture, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all unfold.

Everyone has a clean slate starting today. Team records are reset to 0-0. Everything that happened over the course of the season is in the past. Everything is on the line, and the glory is there for the taking. Who wants it more? God I love this game…

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How To Fix The Mets According To The Movies http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/how-to-fix-the-mets-according-to-the-movies.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/how-to-fix-the-mets-according-to-the-movies.html/#comments Thu, 04 Oct 2012 13:15:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=97912 The four things the Mets have to do this off-season to keep the Moneyball project going strong according to the movies…

1. Hire Jonah Hill immediately to assist Sandy Alderson in the front office.

2. Trade Ike Davis.

Find a guy with nerve damage in his throwing arm to play first base.

Why? Because walks are better than 30+ home runs.

3. Adopt Norman Dale’s “hoosiers” philosophy when up at the plate.

Norman Dale didn’t want his Huskers shooting until they passed the ball four times. In similar fashion, the Mets would like their hitters seeing more pitches. They will make it mandatory that every Met player takes at least one strike before swinging the bat in 2013. If a player violates this rule, they will get benched, even if it means playing with 8.

4. Bring Kelly Leak out of retirement to play an outfield position.

With all the very serious things being written about what the Mets, I felt it was necessary to have some fun with the situation. With all the off-season concerns, it seems like we are all beating a dead horse at this point. Everyone knows the problems the Mets are facing, and it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow if we don’t see the Mets taking steps over the winter to improve the situation.

I, for one, am glad the season is over. I need a break, and I am sure many other Mets fans feel the same way. I wouldn’t expect any major changes coming this winter either. The Mets aren’t going to throw money at free-agents, and they don’t have much trade bait.

The 2013 Mets are going to look very similar to the 2012 Mets.

Let’s not get discouraged as fans though. Let’s look at what the Orioles and Athletics were able to do this year, and have some faith in the Mets for 2013. Everyone starts with a clean slate and in first place on day one. Maybe in thinking that way, we will be able to sleep better at night this winter.

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Do You Still Believe In Moneyball? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/do-you-still-believe-in-moneyball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/do-you-still-believe-in-moneyball.html/#comments Mon, 13 Aug 2012 14:15:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=92409 Moneyball is a ultimately a strategy that was developed by a small market team’s general manager in order to compete large market teams. When Billy Beane sat down and started to think about creative ways to stay competitive with large market teams, he didn’t write the word moneyball on a dry erase board, and tell everyone in the room that this was his new idea. Moneyball was a name, that was given by an author, to describe to the success that Beane experienced in the early 2000s. I’m here to tell you that much like Santa Claus, moneyball doesn’t exist.

Before you call me crazy, sit and think about it. The strategies that Beane developed and ultimately used do exist, but moneyball doesn’t. If it did ever exist, it ended once large market teams also started to implement Beane’s strategies once they saw how successful Beane’s Oakland A’s were. The Red Sox started implementing the small market strategies made famous by Beane, and what did it lead to? They finally broke the curse of the Bambino. But that wasn’t moneyball, because moneyball doesn’t exist.

There are basically two schools of thought in baseball – the old school scout mentality, and the moneyball school of thought. The old school thinkers say “wow that guy has all the tools,” but moneyballers ask “can he play ball?” Old school thinkers look for potential, while moneyballers look for performance. The old school mentality has driven me crazy for years. Year after year I watch teams draft players based on the coveted five tools, and then pay them upwards of $1 million just for signing a contract. They don’t even know if this guy can play, and simply because the guy can hit a baseball a country mile during batting practice, they invest millions. It doesn’t make sense to pass up on a guy that has shown he can play the game at a high level, for a guy who is visually or physically more impressive. That’s a stupid strategy even if you have a lot of money to spend. I guess that means my beliefs would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

Remove the word moneyball from your vocabulary. Instead, call it performance based evaluation of players. Rather than looking at what this guy might be able to do for your team, you look at what this player can do for your team. You do that through evaluation of statistics, but also based on what you see on the field. You can not evaluate a player on statistics alone. The two schools of thought really should work hand in hand, not against each other. If you combine the schools of thought, you really have a total of six tools that players should be evaluated on (not the traditional five) – running speed, arm strength, hitting ability, quickness, mental acuity (patience at the plate), and ability to get on base. I firmly believe that teams should always value proven players over guys who have an array of tools but can’t apply them in game situations. I guess that would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

One team that I think has been doing this well the past few years is the San Francisco Giants. They tend to draft guys that they can get through the minor leagues as quickly as possible to start helping the big league club. You can’t do that by drafting guys based on talent alone, so there has to be skill there. If a guy has tons of talent, but has to spend six years in the minor leagues developing the skill, then what’s the point? Just draft the guys with skill, and save yourself time and money developing them in the minors. That’s why Beane focused his draft on more polished college players – there is less development needed, and they can help the team in a shorter period of time (in most cases). Then you don’t have to spend big money in free-agency to address your needs. I completely agree with Beane’s drafting strategy. I guess that would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

Moneyball doesn’t exist. There isn’t some magic formula, or mathematical equations, that a team can use to evaluate players and uncover undervalued players. If that’s what you think, get it out of your head. Teams can’t expect to win without spending money, unless they have a well developed minor league factory that is spitting out skilled players like Ford spits out Mustangs. This is an area the Mets are lacking. Every team uses the same analyses now, so those days of Beane’s A’s are all but over. But the Mets have a distinct advantage over those early 2000′s Oakland A’s – they aren’t a small market team. Those small market team rules don’t apply.

The New York Mets should focus on what the San Francisco Giants have done the past few years. They have to find a way to get guys to the major leagues, as fast as possible, because the team is in a complete state of disarray right now. There are guys playing out of position in order to plug holes. The problem is there are more holes than plugs, and we all know what happens when there are more holes than plugs – the ship sinks. The fix is simple enough – start drafting more polished players that will be able to help the team now, rather than later. Either that, or they have to pony up some cash and address their needs.

The Mets can turn this around, but they have to get their hands dirty, and re-evaluate their organization from the ground up. They better do it fast, because this is starting to remind me of the Mets teams of the early 1990s…and I don’t know how many of us can go through that again.

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Should The Mets Retire The Moneyball Project? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/should-the-mets-retire-the-moneyball-project.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/should-the-mets-retire-the-moneyball-project.html/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2012 14:30:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=92159 The Mets currently have a front office in place that has earned them the nickname the “Moneyball Mets.” Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson was once Billy Beane’s mentor, and the Mets have also added a couple of other front office executives that once worked with Beane. As the Brady Bunch theme song goes – everyone sing along – that’s the way we became the Moneyball Mets.

Does that mean the Mets are on pace to have the success the A’s had ten years ago that was chronicled in the book and movie Moneyball? Not likely.

For those of you who haven’t read the book (or watched the movie), Moneyball is based on a form of analysis called sabermetrics. Simply stated, moneyball theorizes that in order to win games, a team has to score more runs than their opponent by getting on base more frequently. It goes further to analyze which players actually help you score more runs using a series of mathematical equations to develop advanced statistics called sabermetrics. This is obviously a very rudimentary explanation of moneyball, but it inevitably goes against everything the traditional scouts have been saying for over 100 years. Scouts search far and wide for the coveted five tool players which are as rare as unicorns and leprechauns. The search takes them around the globe with one goal in mind: to build the best teams they can by seeking out the best talent.

Sabermetrics allowed Beane to take advantage of players often ignored by other teams in order to build his historic 2002 team. They were ignored since teams didn’t understand their true value. This misunderstanding was due to not using sabermetrics to evaluate players. At least that is what we are led to believe. We will return to this later.

The movie alludes to the idea that Beane was looking for a way to analyze talent that was different from the traditional scouts. This was supposedly due to the fact that he was once considered a “can’t miss” five tool player. He was selected in the first round of the 1980 MLB draft (by the Mets coincidentally), but never lived up to expectations. The Mets had three first round picks that year, and held the number one pick. They used that number one pick on Daryl Strawberry after Beane signed on to play football and baseball with Stanford, even though scouts thought Beane was as close to a “sure thing” as you can get from a prospect. No teams wanted to risk a first round pick on a kid that was going to be John Elway’s heir at Stanford. The only team who could afford to take that risk was the New York Mets since they had two other first round picks.

To this day, scouts say Beane was the most gifted athlete in the 1980 draft class. But if Beane learned anything from his playing career, it’s that there is no such thing as a “sure thing.” This has him at odds with scouts who wanted to try and put the best overall players on the field, the way big market teams do.

Back to Beane’s 2002 Oakland Athletics team which was the basis of the book and movie Moneyball. First, let me say that the movie was entertaining. Unfortunately, it paints a picture of Beane building the entire 2002 A’s from a bunch of players that no other team wanted. It reminded me of the scene in the movie Major League when they are trying to build a team bad enough that will help the Indians move out of Cleveland. Nobody was previously playing in the California Penal League, and the team was actually stacked before Beane added the final few pieces of the puzzle using sabermetrics.

The movie fails to mention the fact that the pitching staff consisted of Barry Zito (2002 Cy Young Winner), Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson who were affectionately known as the “Big 3.” Let’s put it this way, if Beane didn’t win the division with those three guys he should’ve lost his job. By the way, the closer was Billy Koch, and it gets even better. The A’s had Miguel Tejada (2002 AL MVP), Eric Chavez, Jermaine Dye, Ray Durham, and David Justice all in their lineup. So was the success of the A’s due to sabermetrics being used to add a few players that nobody even remembers from the team, or the fact that everything came together for the A’s due to great player development? And if you thought the 2002 pitching staff was scary, the 2003 & 2004 A’s added a young Rich Harden to the mix. How did the Athletics manage to never win a World Series with those guys on their pitching staff?

Now let’s get back to the Mets. I think everyone will agree the Mets don’t have the talent the A’s had in the early 2000s. Not only that, but the A’s are a small market team, so they had to come up with creative ways to compete with big market teams. Look at it this way - when a person with a lower income goes to buy a car, they look for different attributes in that car than a person with a higher income would. The person with lower income goes to buy a Honda. It will get you back and forth to work, it’s reliable and good on gas, but you aren’t winning any races. The person with higher income goes to buy a Corvette, and the license plate reads “eat my dust.”

The Mets are a large market team. They shouldn’t be shopping for Hondas. Their license plate should read “eat my dust.” It doesn’t make sense for them to use the strategies of the small market teams. Their strategy should be to use their revenue stream to crush their opponents. The Mets can certainly learn a thing or two about player development from the Athletics of the early 2000s, but I’m still not sold on the fact that sabermetrics had anything to do with the success of those teams after looking at the players on that roster.

Can the Mets build a winning team using sabermetrics and moneyball? I know one thing for certain – no small market teams have won the World Series using sabermetrics alone in the past ten years. So if the Mets want to start winning again, they better start taking the money out of Moneyball, and start spending it.

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What Will The Mets Do With Jason Bay? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/what-will-the-mets-do-with-jason-bay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/what-will-the-mets-do-with-jason-bay.html/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:36:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=74946 To say Jason Bay’s tenure this far with the Mets is disappointing would be a huge understatement. When Bay was signed it was thought that he would be providing the much needed power to the Mets lineup. From 2004-2009 Bay averaged at least 21 home-runs, nobody could have predicted his drop-off would be so severe when he signed with the Mets. As a Met Jason Bay has hit just 18 home-runs! Oh and he’s only hitting .250 as Met!

Bay is two years into his $66 million contract he has an easily attainable $18 million vesting option for 2014, that vests based on 500 plate appearances each in 2012 and 2013.

Unfortunately Bay still continues to struggle and he hasn’t shown much improvement this spring.

The question will eventually be ”what will the Mets do with Jason Bay?” Trading him won’t be an option as no general manager will take on that contract. I don’t even think we can swap bad contracts with another team given Bay’s lack of production. So besides a trade what else can the Mets do?

  1. Extended Spring Training: This seems unlikely as much as it would be needed. As was pointed out to me recently, Jason Bay is one of the only regular players that is healthy so you can be certain that he will be coming North with team once they break camp.
  2. Moving Him Down The Lineup: This will be a reality at some point this season I’m sure. Unfortunately whether he’s in the middle of the lineup or batting 8th he still be hurting the lineup with his lack of production. You cannot have a player continuously underperforming as he has and expect a positive outcome to this tale.
  3. Minor League Assignment: This is always a tough one with a veteran player like Jason Bay. He’s got the right to refuse a minor league assignment. We saw this with Oliver Perez a couple of years ago. It takes time off his service time. I doubt the Mets even approach this option.
  4. Platooning Him: If moving Bay down the lineup doesn’t work and the Mets don’t ask and/or Bay doesn’t accept the Minor League assignment this will probably be the most logical option. I know the players union might have an issue because of the vesting option, but the Mets will have a clear case that his lack of production is hurting the team.
  5. Cutting Losses: This is always tough, especially when it comes to the amount of money Jason Bay is owed. Many have concerns that even though a player shows no signs of improving, he will get cut from his current team, sign for the minimum with another team and return to greatness. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make the cut.

It’s not a great situation to be in with Jason Bay that’s for sure. I would first move him down the lineup and if that doesn’t work I would ask him to accept a minor league assignment. If Bay is interested in helping the team and wanting to improve, he can take the assignment, go to Buffalo and work on his swing. It has helped before. If Bay turns down the minor league assignment, I wouldn’t bench him as that does nothing, but occupy a roster spot. I would part ways with him and cut him. Let him be someone else’s problem. Sometimes addition by subtraction is the only way to go. Of course the best case scenario is that Bay finds his swing and starts to hit again. You gotta believe right?

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Ike Davis Should Be Untouchable For The Mets! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/ike-davis-should-be-untouchable-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/ike-davis-should-be-untouchable-for-the-mets.html/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 17:30:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=67566 Yes, I know the arguments, “Mets are in a rebuilding mode” and nobody should be untouchable. For the most part you would be right, not many players on this team should be untouchable. Ike Davis however does not fall into that category. If there is one player on this team that we all should be in agreement on who is untouchable it’s Issac Benjamin Davis. When the 2012 season starts Ike will be only 25 years old. He will be under team control through 2017.  Last week when it was reported at first that the Mets were looking to trade Ike I was shocked. While they did not trade Ike they did make it known that they would listen to trades for the young first baseman.There is no solid reason to trade Ike. He’s not making a lot of money so there goes that excuse for Sandy Alderson and his supporters. In fact Ike is scheduled to make a mere $1.168 million dollars in 2012 before being arbitration eligible in 2013.  That is a very small sum of money, moneyball team or not to pay a player the caliber of Ike Davis.

As we saw in 2010 Ike can flat out hit. I know he struggled in the middle of his rookie campaign but he finished strongly. We all knew that Ike could hit but what surprised me was his defense. I remember hearing some concerns about that while he was coming up but he put all that to rest. I’m not just talking about the flashy catches over the dugout, I’m talking about the overall plays he makes on the field. The way he plays the bunt is very reminiscent of Keith Hernandez. Ike ended 2010 with a disappointing batting average of .264 but what was impressive was his home-run total of 19 with 71 RBI’s. Ike also finished 7th in that year’s NL Rookie Of The Year voting.

In 2011 Ike got off to hot start. In 36 games he burst out of the gate batting .302 with 7 home-runs and 25 RBI’s before getting hurt in a freak injury that would ultimately lead to the end of his season. Once Ike was on the disabled list you could see the negative impact it had on the team. Now I know the team had no chance of succeeding last season regardless, but without Ike’s presence this team was worse both offensively and defensively. The replacements of Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Nick Evans were poor substitutes for Ike’s combination of offensive and defensive production. With Jose Reyes gone now it’s more important to have a defensive first baseman than it was before. Also Ike’s bat is even more important with how the lineup is going to be now.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on Ike at first. I gave him a hard time, I thought he was a good but nothing special kind of a player. I don’t know if it was his skid during the 2010 season or his inability to make some adjustments that year but coming into last year I wasn’t too high on Ike. That changed in the first month of the season. I saw he made adjustments, I saw how he evolved from his rookie season, I saw how smart of a baseball player he is and I saw what make this young player special. I’m more than happy to admit I was wrong about Ike Davis and what he will be for the Mets.

It makes zero sense to trade him. Ike with the new dimensions at Citi Field will hit 40-45 home-runs and don’t be surprised to see a gold glove or two in his bright future. Not only is he gifted physically but mentally as well. He’s a smart baseball player. He has for the most part taken very well to New York. It’s not easy for anyone to succeed in this city whether it’s an all-star free agent or a highly regarded young prospect that has been coming up through the system but he hasn’t shown signs of that getting to him. Ike has what it takes to be a general out there one day. In fact I can see him as a Keith Hernandez type out there, taking charge and leading his team. Ike is the kind of first baseman every teams wants, great with the bat and great with the leather. You do not trade away these players, you build a franchise around them. I would love to see this regime of geniuses do something where they lock Ike up avoiding future arbitration and take away a couple of free agent years.

Let’s hope that we see Ike Davis in Citi wearing a Mets uniform for years to come otherwise we’re moving backwards instead of going forwards.

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It’s Official: Mets Are Now A Moneyball Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/its-official-mets-are-now-a-moneyball-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/its-official-mets-are-now-a-moneyball-team.html/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:02:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=66859 Last night it became official, the Mets, a baseball team playing in the sports capital that is New York, lost the best shortstop they ever had to the small market Miami Marlins.

The Miami Marlins as we all know signed the National League Batting Champion to a six-ear deal worth $102 million dollars with a team option for a 7th year which is a great deal for both sides. I know some bloggers and authors won’t agree because Sandy can do no wrong but he has lost us Reyes because of his a Moneyball philosophy. In fact Sandy Alderson did not even try to top nor match this offer – he never made any offer at all. This was admitted when he was talking with reporters when he arrived in Dallas last night.

I’m not shocked, it was always reported that Jose Reyes wasn’t an Alderson guy and last night that became crystal clear. With Reyes now officially a former New York Met the Mets have officially embraced Moneyball. Last year’s acquisitions of cheap players that no other team wanted like Boyer, Buccholz, Carrasco, Hairston, Harris, Paulino and Young were just a preview into what was to come and the future that awaits this franchise. These players did nothing to help the team and the other general managers knew that and stayed away.

Now that the Mets are playing Moneyball this is going to be the norm and we should get used to it with Sandy Alderson as the general manager. As we have seen with other Moneyball teams when they’re homegrown star players become free agents they let them walk to the teams that see how special these players are and are willing to pay for their talents.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Jose Reyes was allowed to walk with no offer from the great and powerful Sandy Alderson, that’s the Moneyball way after all. Sandy made it known from day one that he had no interest in having Jose Reyes on his team. It started on the dark day when Bud Selig got him the job and days after assuming control Alderson said there would be no talks of an extension with Jose Reyes before the 2011 season started – even after Reyes said he’d be willing to negotiate a deal up until the season started. But Alderson’s mind was made up.

As it became clear that Reyes was having a great year in 2011, Sandy and his friends in the front office made a token gesture to try and trick the fans that he wanted to talk about a possible extension with Jose Reyes, knowing fully well that Reyes and his agents made clear that once the 2011 season started there would be no extension talks during the season. Reyes wanted concentrate on baseball during the baseball season, and talk contract during the offseason as many players prefer and do.

Alderson then went on SNY and said he was dedicating the entire of month of October to re-signing Jose Reyes. Naturally October came and went there was no offer made to Jose Reyes. So much for sign Jose Reyes month. In fact he made clear there would be “no preemptive offer for Jose Reyes”, and that he would “let other teams set the market.”

We’ve seen this with many other teams, but I never imagined a big market team especially one in New York would ever have a general manger that would allow this to happen.

Instead of having Jose Reyes at short for the next six years we will have 21-year old Ruben Tejada. A player who cannot field, throw, hit and run nearly as good as Jose Reyes . He also brings zero energy to the team and the fanbase the way Jose Reyes can do. Tejada is cheap and that is all that matters when it comes to Moneyball. That is all that matters to Sandy Alderson and his guys in the front office.

You know how Moneyball teams like the Oakland A’s only draw crowds when teams like the Yankees or former star players come to town? Well that is what will happen with Citi Field. There will be crowds to see the Yankees and the return of Jose Reyes and as has been the case for a couple of seasons now, Phillies fans will outnumber Mets fans when those two get together.. Other than that we won’t be seeing crowds at Citi FIeld. It will be a as quiet as tomb, Alderson’s Tomb.

For those that wanted the Mets to be a Moneyball team, rejoice – you got it. Enjoy seeing the Moneyball Mets in last place, because they’re going to be there for a considerable time.

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R.I.P. Moneyball Part II –The UNDERVALUED STAT! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/r-i-p-moneyball-part-ii-the-undervalued-stat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/r-i-p-moneyball-part-ii-the-undervalued-stat.html/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:36:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=63028

Having explained more precisely what the central GOAL of Moneyball is (Save Money) I thought it might be good to talk about what it actually says it did and why it did what it did from the Statistical Analysis point of view.

Moneyball, as was stated previously, used Statistical analysis to find an UNDERVALUED METRIC that was then used to hunt for and create a MASTER LIST of players who exhibited that quality for consideration of acquisition.

How did they arrive at OBP as the undervalued metric and how would that work today?

Well the book leads us to believe that Sabermetrics were used to list and rank players and to determine which stat was prevalent in good players AND cheap players that was being overlooked by the rest of the league.

But did that really happen? Did it really show that OBP was the undervalued stat or did it by statistical bias automatically select OBP as the undervalued stat since Sabermetrics were used and invented to ILLUSTRATE the importance of OB in the game of baseball?

You see by using Sabermetrics as your analytical model you PRE-SELECTED OBP as valuable merely because Sabermetrics values that more than any other event and didn’t really let the analysis of numbers make the decision for you.

You would come up with OBP as the UNDERVALUED VALUE stat even in years when it was not.

If you didn’t construct the statistical model in a way that made OBP valuable before any comparison was made it would not have valued OBP in the first place and therefore you would not have come to the conclusion that OBP was UNDERVALUED!

Moneyball used an OB-centric statistical model and came up with OBP as the UNDERVALUED METRIC. WOW, What a SHOCK! They looked for something specific and then FOUND IT! Eureka moment or preselected destiny because they used a metric that favored the result before the result was even seen?

IE: If you ran a statistical analysis model that favored HRs above any other event you would come up with a list of GOOD and CHEAP HR hitters, and you might be left thinking HRs are the UNDERVALUED STAT, but would you be right? Would it mean that HRs are undervalued? No – what you did was lent value to something before any player comparison was made. You FOUND what you BIASED your search parameters to look for. HRs are a poor example granted because we all KNOW they are valued, but it does make the point that if you bias your stat model towards one event, it will only work if your biased model correctly ascertained the undervalued assets from the outset. Garbage in, Garbage out.

Now OB was undervalued at the time because OBP while well known, was not given the importance it is today thanks to the book Moneyball. Most teams all look at OBP now and it is no longer undervalued – it hasn’e been for quite a few years.

Sabermetrics were new, not widely used and therefore no majority of teams would come up with the same MASTER LIST as Oakland meaning they would not be FAVORING OBP and as a result OBP would be undervalued.

This is how MONEYBALL came to find that particular market inefficiency.

Would it work today?

What is the most UNDERVALUED STAT in today’s market?

Can Sabermetrics tell you what is undervalued these days?

Or will Sabermetrics come up with the SAME EXACT ANSWER as before because it values OB more than anything else?

It is believed that Sabermetrics actually found the UNDERVALUED stat but the truth is the guy who PICKED Sabermetrics as his statistical model picked OBP as the undervalued metric before any comparison, chart or calculation was made!

And it is for this reason none of the people who have a strong belief in Sabermetrics have been able to ascertain what the new UNDERVALUED metric is.

ASK them and they will not be able to tell you. Any of you sabers care to list a couple of undervalued metrics right now?

They will cite other metrics made BASED on the same OBP biased approach, leading to the same results.

They need to come up with a new statistical model that will not value one stat over another and not bias the results in favor of OBP. Otherwise just use OBP and trash the other stuff that doesn’t really lead you to anything undervalued assets.

Sabermetrics was primarily a form of statistical analysis that allowed OBP to be seen as underused and undervalued. That is all behind us now and what we now need is to discover that NEW undervalued Metric.

A NEW STATISTICAL APPROACH IS REQUIRED if that Moneyball UNDERVALUED approach is going to ever work again!

That can only occur by someone finding an event that is overlooked and creating a metric to find it.

If Sabermetrics is used by all teams then Sabermetrics will not be able to come up with an UNDERVALUED STAT because EVERYONE will be valuing it!

SO for MONEYBALL to succeed it has to abandon the Sabermetrics it used when no one knew about it, and it must invent a NEW Statistical model that no one else uses in order to get back its edge and find what no one else is looking for and placing VALUE on!

And if that’s not done?

R.I.P. Moneyball.

This Fan Shot was submitted by Mike (Metsie). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over eleven-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.

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R.I.P. Moneyball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/r-i-p-moneyball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/r-i-p-moneyball.html/#comments Thu, 13 Oct 2011 16:11:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=62926 I think it is time to talk about what Moneyball ACTUALLY means and to show some of those who claim to have read the book what the book is all about. Apparently, reading doesn’t always lead to UNDERSTANDING.

I have read the book, it was interesting to learn about the little known “behind the scenes” process of team building and how a front office operates. It is for THAT reason the book sold so well not because it was chock-full of useful information, formulas and strategy. It did have some information which would be useful for ANY team regardless of targeted payroll ceiling, and it did help to show how Statistical Analysis can help you find some hidden value where none is actually perceived.

The book discusses quite well the methodology used but mostly because it would be a pretty short book if it just said we used statistical analysis to find cheap players. I suspect this is the main reason why people confuse Sabers with Moneyball. The book expended a great deal of effort explaining what methodology they used to find “cheap” players which was the central goal of Moneyball.

Sabermetrics or advanced statistics were one of the predominant tools used to rank and identify who had the quality that was deemed UNDERVALUED but also used to identify what quality it was that was undervalued.

Sabermetrics are based largely on Bill James’ work and his work is mostly about how important On-Base Percentage is to winning (right or wrong that’s what conclusion he came to in its most simplistic form).

By using that strategy, your initial ranking of ALL players is going to FAVOR players with high a OBP and rank them accordingly. If you use OBP alone to identify what players are undervalued many low cost players will not show up on your list of top players simply because you ignored so many other aspects of the game.

Using the Moneyball method to exploit market inefficiencies in the early 2000’s, doesn’t guarantee that you will come up with all the top low-cost players today. Markets change every year.  It worked great for a little while back in the day, but that was then and this is now.

Now onto the topic at hand, the processes which will no doubt cause much vitriol in the comments?

MONEYBALL no matter what methodology used to arrive at the goal is about NOT SPENDING MONEY or Spending as little as possible. The REASON for implementing it is varied:

  • Not having the money to spend due to low fan attendance and revenues.
  • Cheap Ownership who are more interested in profit than wins and force the GM to shop at Kmart.
  • Blind stupidity that convinces you that minimizing your player options translates to more success. I call this the “penny wise, pound foolish” syndrome!

Sabermetrics was used in the Book as a comparative means to identify players who fit the qualities they were looking for. But it was not the decider in who to get. Sabermetrics does not INCORPORATE player salary in their metrics. Two Players judged by Sabers can be equal while one gets paid 8 Million per year while the other gets the league Minimum!

So while the Sabers may have identified the players and created the initial MASTER LIST of candidates it did not DECIDE which one the team was going to get because there are probably a lot of HIGHLY PAID players on that list as well.

Look at the 2011 Top OBP leaders:

  • Joey Votto
  • Prince Fielder
  • Lance Berkman
  • Matt Kemp
  • Ryan Braun
  • Matt Holliday
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Troy Tulowitzki

Do you see any hidden gems or $1 million dollar a year players?

So you used OBP to identify all the players that you deemed were GOOD, but then eliminated all the players who were being paid accordingly for their talents, in this case all of them.

You see MONEYBALL is about REMOVING high salary players from the candidate list…

Sabermetrics are not the central driver of the Philosophy in Moneyball. MONEY is!

The Red Sox who are most often used as an example of a Moneyball team use advanced stats, but they SKIP the most important step needed for Moneyball… The removal of any players or options that command a high salary!

The Red Sox never removed those higher priced options from their list of targeted players… Oakland DID!

This is why the Red Sox actually won a WS and have the third highest Payroll in baseball while Oakland has never won a championship since they implemented Moneyball.

The Red Sox never limited their options based on Money.

Yes they both used sabermetrics, in fact most teams do, but the Red Sox did not ignore quality players because of money! They did not discard a better option merely because he made more than a cheaper and more inferior player!

Oakland did!

Even if a player had a superior OBP or SLG,Oakland would ignore those sabermetrics and that better player in favor of the lesser player and $$$$$.

Red Sox did no such thing! THEY ARE NOT A MONEYBALL TEAM! You can say they are a Sabermetric team as many teams are these days in some respect or another.

SABERMETRICS DOES NOT EQUAL MONEYBALL!

SABERMETRICS = A Limited Form of Statistical Analysis!

Statistical Analysis DOES NOT EQUAL SABERMETRICS! There are many ways to analyze stats and they don’t all subscribe to the theories put forth by Bill James and all those profiting in his footsteps.

Statistical Analysis is a means of calculating stats and placing importance on some stats over others but they do not show you the cheapest player nor compare price per performance in any way shape or form.

Now we COULD debate Sabermetrics in and of itself, but it really isn’t relevant to this conversation. Yes Sabers seem to be good at comparing players but Sabers themselves and the philosophy of Bill James is not required, important, or the be-all and end-all of Statistical Analysis!

Bill didn’t really INVENT statistical analysis we have ALWAYS looked at stats as a comparator. Bill James’ contribution was to create a few metrics that placed importance where he saw fit. I’m not going to debate if he’s right or wrong here, it is not the focus.

You do not need to read MONEYBALL nor any of Bill James books to create or use good metrics. Anyone can do it and if you work hard to ensure you are not biasing the data to show what you want, you will also come up with the right answers.

No single stat will ever give you the complete picture of any player. To say that OBP is a better metric than BA because it takes all PA into consideration doesn’t make it better. An even better metric can be achieved than the ones Bill James came up with.

How about a metric that takes into account moving the runner over or driving in a run regardless of an out being made? It would tell you a lot more about a player than either BA and OBP.

The thing that Moneyball SUCCESSFULLY showed was not that saving money is the way to go, but that DEEP STATISTICAL ANALYSIS is the key to making good decisions because you are making an EDUCATED Guess – an informed decision.

But MONEYBALL discards much of that information and the end result is as old as the game of baseball itself, how much they get paid!

Moneyball uses Sabermetrics to come up with answers, and then IGNORES the answers given based on COST!

Moneyball is not about Sabers or statistical analysis it is about NOT SPENDING MONEY!

The Braves have been used as an example of a team that did it the right way and they did it without the benefits of Moneyball. (They were pretty much done winning championships by the time Moneyball was invented!) They built a good team that was cheap because they developed it from scratch. Fine to do provided you have the patience to wait as long as it took them – decades of losing and a bit of good luck and timing and Greg Maddux. They finally built a team that carried them to five league championships and their one World Series title.

If they had spent some additional payroll to maintain their edge they might have won a few more WS and Titles.

The notion that spending less means winning more does not hold true. Building BETTER (regardless of methodology and COST) leads to better teams.

And by handcuffing and limiting your choices based on money means you make it that much harder to succeed. Because when you place limits on yourself that preclude you from many options,  you helped give the opposition who did not limit their choices an ADVANTAGE OVER YOU!

While Oakland might seem to have done well despite limiting themselves via implementing Moneyball, the bottom-line is Moneyball didn’t get the job done!

And while it might seem wise to a Moneyballer to point out how many playoffs Oakland went to while spending peanuts, you still have that little issue that the Yankees won more titles and World Series spending money.

1998 – 2011

Oakland A’s – AL League Championships 0, World Series Titles 0

NY Yankees – AL League Championships: 6, World Series Titles: 4

The great equalizer, Moneyball was not!

And what COULD/WOULD the story be if they had just spent a little to keep the cheap players they had worked so hard to find from walking away?

Or to compliment the team with players who would cost a little more, but would have increased profits due to WS ticket sales and victories?

How far might they have gone if they simply signed rather than ignored the best players they themselves calculated based on their UNDERVALUED Metrics?

When you LIMIT your choices based on self imposed financial limitations, you will not have the same success as those teams who use the same statistical analysis to pluck all the productive players that are out of YOUR price range!

Cheaper isn’t ALWAYS BETTER… You GET what you pay for!  Not in every circumstance but more often than not.

MONEYBALL is Penny Wise and POUND FOOLISH…

Especially now when all teams use advanced metrics everyday, but are willing to pay for the best available talent.

R.I.P. Moneyball

This Fan Shot was submitted by Mike (Metsie). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over eleven-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.

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Thankfully The 2011 Mets Season Is Finally Over http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/thankfully-the-2011-mets-season-is-finally-over.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/thankfully-the-2011-mets-season-is-finally-over.html/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 16:00:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=61876 New York Mets' Fans

Put It In The Books! The Mets 2011 season is finally over! What can I say about the Mets 2011 season except thankfully it has finally come to an end. Coming into this season I didn’t expect much and in turn we didn’t get much from this team Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins put out there this year.

I know there are people who will for some reason say this was a good season. I honestly can’t fathom what is so good about a team that finished their season 77-85, just 5 games out of last place. In fact the Mets actually finished worse than last year. That is not what I would call good. Far from it in fact!

I guess the writing was on the wall on how the season was going to go when our GM didn’t offer Jose Reyes, who won the NL batting title yesterday, an extension last off season. In fact he didn’t do much at all last offseason to improve this team. There were some free agent signings of course, bad free agent signings like Chris Young who after starting just 4 games had season ending surgery. That was no shocker, I fully expected to see him wind up on the DL. I know the Alderson defenders will cite that he was cheap but what does that matter? He was brought here to pitch for the season and if the season was only a month then it would’ve been a great signing but that’s not the case. How can we forget the great signing of Taylor Buchholz who went home and was never seen again? Let’s not even get into the mind-boggling 2 year deal that was given to D.J. Carrasco. Capuano was another bad signing by Alderson. R.A. Dickey was not deserving of a 2 year deal for one good year in 2010. Not good!

I know everyone just loves the trades Alderson did for K-Rod and Carlos Beltran. Paying most of K-Rod’s contract for what we got back was a horrible move! These guys are nowhere near worth that kind of money. In fact Alderson got played by Milwaukee. As soon as K-Rod got there, the Brewers got K-Rod to waive his option as K-Rod obviously wanted to test free agency at a year younger. It should’ve been obvious that K-Rod wanted to be a free agent next year when he enlisted the services of Scott Boras.

Beltran’s trade is another instance of paying too much. I thought Alderson was supposed to be great at saving money? Wheeler, a Single A pitcher is not worth 4 million or so dollars. If he was a Triple A pitcher on the cusp of the majors then I wouldn’t have minded so much, but of course Alderson botched this trade, I wouldn’t expect anything else from him.

Normally I would say I’m excited for the World Series to end and wait until next year, but we have to be realistic, Sandy Alderson is not a big market GM. Next year is already off to a bad start. With DJ Carrasco and Tim Byrdak returning to the pen and Terry Collins guaranteed to be back there’s not much hope. Adding to the Mets woes will be the departure of one of the best position players in this franchise’s history Jose Reyes and it wouldn’t surprise me if David Wright is traded.

In conclusion this year was bad and we should expect an even worse one in 2012.

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What Makes A Real Mets Fan? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/05/what-makes-a-real-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/05/what-makes-a-real-mets-fan.html/#comments Fri, 20 May 2011 02:00:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=50589 Since the hiring of Sandy Alderson there seems to be a an overwhelming sentiment among the fanbase that if you don’t 100% support everything Alderson and his front office do then you’re not a real fan of the New York Mets.

Gone are the days when having a different opinion was acceptable. Today, Mets fans who disagree with the front office are labeled haters and trolls. They are singled out and attacked on sites like this one or social mediums like Twitter.

I know there are Mets fans who like me don’t believe that Sandy Alderson was the right choice to be general manager. Some of us feel his moneyball ways are simply wrong and not cut out for a large market team like the Mets. The over-reliance on sabermetrics seems foolish and short-sighted to me. The game got along just fine for over 100 years without using sabermetrics to build a solid roster and a championship level team. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, in fact most ballplayers – former and current – scoff at it.

Every team has a fanbase that likes certain players on the team and dislikes other players. I know there is a good number of fans who like myself dislike Carlos Beltran. Like me, they think he’s selfish, overrated and overpaid. Those fans are also bashed and called names that I can’t repeat on a site like this. There are also many who dislike Jose Reyes and/or David Wright too. Reyes and Wright are my two  favorite players. I believe they are the most important players on the team. Some of you would probably disagree with that and that’s just fine, you are entitled to your opinions. We don’t have to agree on everything and anything. However there’s a civil way to do it without resorting to name calling or worse.

The bottom line is we are all Mets fans, we all love our team, and we all want to see them win. We buy their merchandise, we buy their tickets and we watch them regularly. We are entitled to have different views and that’s what makes sports fun and worth debating. Let’s get back to having civil, adult discussions instead of acting like children and calling people names and making fun of them simply because they have different opinions on what’s right for the team and what isn’t.

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Book Review: Moneyball – An Incredible, Revolutionary Masterpiece http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/04/book-review-moneyball-an-incredible-revolutionary-masterpiece.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/04/book-review-moneyball-an-incredible-revolutionary-masterpiece.html/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2011 16:14:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=49188 Moneyball tells the fascinating tale of Billy Beane’s ingenious use of statistical analysis in order to assemble a winning ballclub without the luxury of a large payroll. Through statistics such as OBP, SLG, and a slew of other stats, Beane was able to snatch ballplayers with “hidden virtues” up for a song, creating a team on a $35 million budget just as successful, if not better than the richest teams in the game. Beane’s A’s had become the very definition of quality over quantity.

Michael Lewis’ masterpiece begins with five high school kids performing  multiple drills for scouts with the hope of being drafted. One of them stands out significantly over the other four; his name is Billy Beane. Beane was so unbelievably talented in the eyes of baseball’s scouts that the hype for him to make it to the majors was comparable to what we experienced with Stephen Strasburg. Beane was the poster child of a five-tool player. His fatal flaw though, was himself. Beane could not learn plate discipline, but even more importantly, his anger destroyed his playing ability. Beane would have been the first overall pick if he had not been torn on whether to go to college or to sign on with the team that drafts him, making him a risky draft choice. After being picked first round, 23rd overall, Beane ultimately decided to take the money and sign with the Mets, commencing his career in professional baseball. Unfortunately, Beane could not find any success in the majors; his numbers, especially sabermetric stats, were terrible. As a result,  nine years after being drafted in the 1st round, at the age of 27, Beane was no longer a player, but beginning instead his new career in the Oakland A’s front office.

Beane began working under Oakland’s GM Sandy Alderson, who turns him onto the idea of sabermetrics. Alderson, a military man and an ivy league graduate, got into baseball because of a man by the name of Bill James, the founder of sabermetrics. Alderson kept a stack of his books on his desk and when Beane came to Alderson, he gave him those books to read and learn from. Needless to say, Beane was hooked.

Fast forwarding to Beane as the GM of the A’s, Moneyball sheds light on his secret weapon behind his genius methods, Paul DePodesta. DePodesta, now scouting director of the Mets under new GM Sandy Alderson, used OBP and whatever other statistics his computer could generate in order to find the players most likely to have success in the majors, the A’s were not looking to “sell jeans”.

In one excerpt, DePodesta tries to get a word in to the scouts, who could care less what he had to say. They probably should have listened:

“Paul said the scouts ought to go have a look at a college kid named Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis was a fat third baseman who couldn’t run, throw or field. What was the point of going to see that? (Because, Paul would be able to say three months later, Kevin Youkilis has the second highest on-base percentage in all of professional baseball, after Barry Bonds.)”

As clearly shown in Moneyball, Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s were not just a few signings that he got lucky on, but carefully orchestrated acquisitions that not only benefited the current ballclub, but the A’s of the future. The idea of drafting carefully to produce star players, retaining them until the end of their contracts and then getting more high draft picks to produce even more stars has kept Oakland in contention while retaining their small market status. Any player the A’s lost to free agency could be easily replaced with a no-names like Scott Hatteberg, Chad Bradford or John Mabry and have the same measure of success, in most cases even more success, than with a marquee name like Barry Zito or Jason Isringhausen.

Even when the A’s lost Jason Isringhausen, Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi following their 102-win season in 2001 and were written off as a guaranteed last place team by any and every baseball analyst out there, they managed to outdo themselves the following season, winning 103 games, just as many as the Yankees had won, except the A’s did it with one fourth of the payroll the Yankees had. He proved they weren’t just some miracle fluke team, but that they were a team that could show perennial success without spending hand over fist.

Bud Selig was trying to get support for the idea of revenue sharing to help poorer, smaller market teams compete with the rich, successful teams. Selig’s biggest argument was that small market teams simply could not have the same year-after-year dominance that teams like the Yankees had. Beane blew his theory out of the water with the Oakland A’s. The second smallest budget in the big leagues had won 100+ games two straight seasons with a no-name lineup and a few starting pitchers. Beane made the baseball world stop and re-think everything that they thought they already about the game. He shattered many of the old ideas.

Beane’s method of Moneyball, very similar but somewhat different than sabermetrics, was to eliminate the concepts of ERA, RBIs, runs, etc, and to build the A’s around who were the best run producers and the best out-makers. As it turns out, these ballplayers tended to be very affordable and extremely undervalued. Beane was looking to eliminate from his club the free swingers and the players without plate discipline. He was looking to get rid of the exact type of ballplayer he once was.

 Not only did he succeed in creating his lineup of eight OBP-centered players, but he overcame the disbelief from other clubs and reporters to show that he had something, something big, something that could change the way the rest of the league and its fans looked at baseball.

Moneyball is one of the greatest baseball books ever written, if not the greatest. It is Michael Lewis’ crowning achievement, hands down. Combining not only baseball stats and analysis, but the stories and reasoning behind it. Perfectly blending the facts, his and others’ opinions, stats, and even some humor thrown in Lewis has created a genuine timeless masterpiece.

Moneyball is more than just sabermetrics, the Oakland A’s or even baseball. Moneyball is the story of one man with an amazing, astounding new way that comes face-to-face with an entire social order, unchanged for over 150 years, facing countless critics and doubters along the way, and ultimately emerges on top. Whether you are a Moneyball supporter or the opposition, we can all appreciate someone who stands up for what they truly believe and continue to work at it, and emerge victorious.

The best way to sum up this book in one sentence is from a review done by Nat Newell:

“Open this book…and your mind.”

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

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From Left Field: Terry Collins And The Moneyball Theory http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/from-left-field-terry-collins-and-the-moneyball-theory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/from-left-field-terry-collins-and-the-moneyball-theory.html/#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 16:22:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=45001 On this date in 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Casey Stengel to a two-year deal to be their manager.

Today, 77 years later, Terry Collins will look to the example set by Stengel in running a baseball team. Though they Mets were downright terrible during Stengel’s tenure, the fire and energy he brought as the first Mets manager rang true with the players.

Early reports have described Collins as “loud,” which is a great sign for the Mets. The last three managers, Art Howe, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, were more soft spoken in trying to get their points across. Half the time, did we even know what Manuel was saying?

The Mets have some players in need of a jolt, and Collins will be the one to provide that jolt. If the player doesn’t respond, Collins will look for someone who will.

I just started reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, and it has been a terrific read thus far.

For those unfamiliar, Lewis chronicles the Oakland A’s front office tactics in using as little money as possible to field a winning team.

The strategy worked out very well in the early 2000s. Before current A’s general manager, Billy Beane, took over, Sandy Alderson was calling the shots.

Alderson came in as a graduate from Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. He began the wave of “nerds” that didn’t know much about baseball but could use their knowledge to build a winning team.

Alderson placed the highest value in on-base percentage. Some baseball people look only at BA, HR and RBI, but Alderson believed that OBP was the key to scoring runs.

And he was right. You can’t score runs if you don’t have guys on base, unless of course you hit a ton of solo home runs, which is unlikely to win ballgames.

Alderson was notorious for finding a manager who would subscribe to his theory. He once threatened the A’s Double-A manager that he would be fired if his team didn’t start drawing more walks, thus improving their OBP.

Tony LaRussa was Oakland’s manager when Alderson took over, so you could only imagine the clash that occurred. LaRussa refused to buy into the new style of baseball, forcing Alderson to look elsewhere.

Sure enough, Art Howe was named the A’s manager, serving as Alderson’s puppet.

“Art Howe was hired to implement the ideas of the front office, not his own,” said Alderson.

That leads me back to Terry Collins. Obviously, Alderson believes Collins will support the theory or else he wouldn’t have been hired.

The Mets are in a similar situation as the A’s were: a team with a high payroll that wasn’t getting value out of their players. Before Alderson took over, the A’s had one of the highest payrolls in league with players like Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson leading the way.

In the mid-1990s, the A’s new owners forced Alderson to cut the payroll, which is uncannily similar to the Wilpons’ situation. Maybe no money schemes were involved, but Alderson still had to do a lot with a little.

So the new goal for the Mets will be for Alderson to bring in players with value and have Collins utilize those players to reach their full potential. Only time will tell if this plan works.

After reading some of the book, I’m starting to buy into this theory as well. As the famous proverb states, “If it happened before then it can happen again.”

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

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