Bill James to Appear on “60 Minutes” Sunday

With Opening Day just two days away, CBS’s news magazine “60 Minutes” will have a feature on Bill James, the Boston Red Sox senior adviser and father of sabermetrics.

From the “60 Minutes” website:

“Baseball has always been a game about statistics, something the Boston Red Sox took to a new level when they hired baseball statistics guru Bill James in 2002. His “sabermetrics” analysis of players’ stats is a system Red Sox owners believe is an integral part of a winning formula that has brought two World Series trophies to Boston since he arrived. However, more teams are getting into the act, say Sox owners, who now worry that their dreaded enemy the New York Yankees will get into the same game with their always-bigger wallet.”

They even have a small interview of “60 Minutes” correspondent Morely Safer which is interesting.

While focusing on James and how he operates within the Red Sox organization is important to tell the story, we hope the piece will incorporate other organizations who use sabermetrics as well as those who develop new ways of statistically measuring players as part of the evaluation process. Focusing soley on the Yankees and Red Sox won’t do the rest of baseball any justice.

We’ll have a review sometime next week after our Opening Day celebrations settle down.

Of course if you are Paul Daugherty then there is no reason to watch this interview. Only college professors, “ivory tower types”, and people filling out spreadsheets in their mother’s basement should tune in.

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Bailey Sent Down; Cueto A Number 3?

The big news out of spring training is that the Reds’ #1 pitching prospect has been sent down to Triple A Louisville to start the season. Homer Bailey, 21, had a rough spring and needs some fine tuning to keep down high pitch counts and to improve his location.

Bailey compiled a 1-3 record with a 5.21 ERA in six starts. Homer also had a line of 11 ER, 24 H, 16 walks and 11 Ks over the 19 innings pitched. Our other concern is that he is often slow to the plate with a long stride on his lead leg. This allows runners to get a huge jump towards second base and allow an easy steal. Hopefully Homer can get things corrected within a short amount of time to be major league ready and return for a long period of time.

With the move, the Reds have sent a rather clear signal to Johnny Cueto who has received rave reviews by not only new manager Dusty Baker, but also other managers and players who have faced him over the course of the spring.

Cueto, 22, was drafted out of the Dominican Republic and posted mind boggling numbers for a man who, by some scouts’ estimation, shouldn’t have the power and stuff for his size. Out of Spring Training, Cueto has posted a 5.27 ERA, 11 H, 8 ER, and 12 K in 13 2/3 innings. What’s more impressive is what he did in the minor leagues last season.

A 3.07 ERA, 170 Ks, and 34 BB in 161 innings was made even more impressive when he reached Louisville at the AAA level. In four starts, he had 21 Ks and only TWO walks in 22 innings.

If Cueto can be efficient in the third spot in the rotation, he has a very good chance of sticking around on the ball club that desperately needs a little attitude and tenacity on the pitching staff.

The Reds rotation as of right now would look something like:

Aaron Harang

Bronson Arroyo

Johnny Cueto

Josh Fogg

Edinson Volquez

We are glad to see some new blood be infused with some veterans on the staff. Hopefully the Reds continue to scout well and find another strong starting pitcher to go with a somewhat improved bullpen.

Reds Cheapen Gameday Experience

The Cincinnati Reds are making some changes to their home ballpark this year. An entire section of seats are now going to be alcohol-free for families, an all-you-can-eat section for fans to gorge on ballpark fare, and a truck in center field.

Yeah. Seriously.

The Reds have become the new Durham Bulls when they hosted a truck on top of an elevator shaft in center field, over 500 feet away from home plate. If a Reds batter hits the truck, a fan in attendance will win the $31,000 prize. This insults a once proud franchise that owner Bob Castellini swore to protect and uphold when he became principal owner in 2005. Tradition is something that is deeply important not only to the Cincinnati Reds and their fans, but to all of baseball. We could see doing something like this in the minor leagues, but not at the Major League Baseball level. Catellini called himself a fan, yet we don’t think ANY Reds fan would approve of this move.

If we are going to have this, why not put a huge plate of Skyline Chili for hitters to take a swing at?

We understand that ballparks, especially the ones being built after Camden Yard at Oriole Park are all about trying to drawl in fans with an enhanced gameday experience. However, it is hard for us to fathom why owners need to do this other than to line their already overstuffed pockets with more profit (which MLB is making hand over fist these days).

This is in addition to the Reds forcing fans to buy three extra games with the purchase of one ticket to one of the three games with the Boston Red Sox.

I implore any Reds fan and any fan of baseball to contact Robert Castellini and his ownership group and let them know how much this cheapens your experience at the ballpark come this summer. When you put a winning club on the field, people will come.

Paul Daugherty Hates Sabermetrics

In recent days there has been a firestorm brewing in Redsland. The controversy centers around 700 WLW-AM radio talk show host Paul Daugherty and column he wrote in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Daugherty’s assessed the validity of sabermetrics and how they help or hinder the outcome of managerial decisions on the baseball diamond.

The original column appeared in the March 9th issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer and was entitled, “Baker Judges by His Senses: Knowing What Makes Players Tick More Important Than Stats”.  Daugherty argues that fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants managing, a style that new Reds manager Dusty Baker employs is the best way to manage because “players are not numbers.”  On his most recent radio show on March 11th, Daugherty goes on to describe sabermetricians “college professors” who “are ivory tower types” and calls out managers who use sabermetrics as “not confident in their managerial skills.”

We understand that there is a natural aversion to sabermetics.  Traditional baseball stats and their importance has been passed down from generation to generation.  However, a different passion is found when talking about baseball and sabermetrics.  Just like some people enjoy a technical aspect of movies, most people only want to know who won the Academy Award for Best Picture.  Similiarly, sabermetricians want to look deeper at two fundamental questions when it comes to the game of baseball:   

Why are teams successful? Unsuccessful?

What can a team do better improve their chances at winning? 

No sabermetrician is forcing people to look at baseball in a different way. It is a different level of appreciation.  If you prefer to go to the ball game, have a few brews, and enjoy a nice summer’s night, then you can do that.  If you want to keep score, follow the stats and dissect the game on a different level then you can do that.

In business, you want to have every advantage possible for success.  It is the same in baseball.  In our view, sabermetrics is akin to nothing more than a detailed auditing of the performance and how to get more return for the same amount of investment.  If an accountant knows more ways to save the company money and find a way to maximize productivity, any CEO would be willing to make the necessary changes to remain competitive and to get an edge on the competition.  Successful General Managers like Mark Shapiro in Cleveland and Kevin Towers in San Diego recognize the importance of incorporating sabermetrics into the “traditional” way of thinking when evaluating talent and putting a winning product on the field. 

Sabermetrics is not the be-all, end-all way of thinking. Nor should Dusty Baker and the Reds continue a single-minded approach when drafting players, developing their minor leagues, and deploying specific in-game strategy.  Daugherty claims he has an open-mind about the practice of sabermetrics, but was more than dismissive of his guest on the radio program.  The old saying goes “If you keep doing what you do, you’ll always get what you’ve got.”  If the Reds keep employing the same approach, they will always have the same result.  They should try to implement all possible avenues to become successful.

Fun with Spring Training Photos

Since we can’t be in Arizona or Florida for Spring Training, we try to live vicariously through Yahoo!’s photos.

Corey Patterson and Jayson Bay star in Disney’s newest film, “Failures In the Outfield”

Dusty Baker doing what he does best: shattering people’s arms.

The 2008 Florida Marlins payroll: $35

I get a hit now

On my way to Hall of Fame

Slapping ball to left

Matt Kemp shops for a Chinese male-carry all.

“Real funny, guys. Guys? Where are you going? GUYS! COME BACK!”

We’re Back…For Now.

After a catastrophic computer failure and subsequent banging our collective heads against the wall for two weeks as spring training kicked off, we are finally back.

We wanted to let everyone know that we are okay and what will be upcoming this week as we try to make up for lost time.

  • 2008 Season Preview-All Players, all positions
  • Spring Training update, so far
  • Outrage at local radio affiliate

That is it for now. See you in a few days as we hammer out what we think will be some of the biggest posts yet.