Moneyball was about the Oakland Athletics, specifically the 2002 team, Billy Beane, and finding players that most other franchises under-valued. It was driven not by some sudden thirst for more knowledge or to understand the game better, but from a desperate need to try to compete with the vastly expanding budgets of baseball’s richest teams. Now the secret is out of the box in regards to the particular secrets Beane and the A’s discovered. Everyone is aware of the value of getting on base and not making out. J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson are still great thinkers and I have a lot of faith in their ability to lead the Mets but they’re not imparting some secret Moneyball techniques to do so; they’re just smart.
There was other interesting things in the book. One such thing was the idea that you can’t determine a prospects success by saying “He looks like a baseball player.” There is statistical evidence to look at; things like getting on base, or hitting for power. Many scouts still relied on a gut feeling about how a guy looked over the actual data, dismissing it as amateur stuff and having little relevance to the major leagues.
“A young player is not what he looks like, or what me might become, but what he has done.”
One chapter talks about Billy Beane’s failed attempt to become a baseball star. He was a first round draft pick and one of those highly touted prospects. Mostly because he was talented and looked like a ballplayer. Beane couldn’t handle the failure inherent in baseball, couldn’t cope with the mental part of game and eventually ended up in the front office. The signs were there for scouts to see, but they ignored them for the pretty package.
Another example is Chad Bradford. A relief pitcher who threw sidearm was unconventional, and he didn’t seem like a big league player. Despite positive results he didn’t get much appreciation from his teams until the Oakland A’s traded for him.
Another thing to note is that just because someone played the game doesn’t make them an expert on it and the naked eye is a poor tool to evaluate baseball players. What we observe is often limited and we rarely see the whole picture. A talented shortstop adjusts and positions himself to make a hard hit ball into an easy pick up and throw to first, whereas a less talented one may have to race to the ball and making a leaping throw to get the runner. The good shortstop did it easily, and it gets overlooked because no one was paying attention to him until after the ball was hit. This is what’s truly meant by the phrase “He made it look easy.”
The difference between a .300 hitter and a .275 hitter is one hit every two weeks. Even if you watched every pitch, without looking it up you wouldn’t be able to tell that Victor Martinez had one more hit every two weeks than Ryan Theriot.
There is a lot of Bill James and the advance of really thinking about baseball beyond the traditional numbers; The real birth of all the advanced statistics that are recorded and calculated nowadays. Moneyball discusses the roots of these companies that tabulate stats, and the intelligent people that came up with some of the almost common place statistics we use today.
Other sections of the book discuss scouting further. Later on the construction of the roster comes into play, and how Billy Beane is going to replace Jason Giambi’s production in the lineup now that he’s gone. There’s further discussions about specific players on the team and why they’re brought in and what they’re looking at. David Justice was an aging slugger, but the A’s expected his OBP to be something that he wouldn’t lose with age. They didn’t care that he’d hit less home runs, they just wanted him to get on base. They played Scott Hatteberg at first baseball because they felt he had value to the team and they could teach him enough defense to get by. He’d had surgery on his hand and could no longer really throw as a catcher, and the Red Sox didn’t want him anymore, undervaluing his OBP and how many pitches he saw per plate appearance. Some of the book deals with Beane himself. The guy is crazy. Picture the loudest, craziest fan you know. The one that paces during tense moments and breaks things when pitchers give up home runs. That’s Billy Beane.
The book was an interesting read, but it’s still just a story. A lot of interesting philosophies are put forth, but many of them also don’t work out so well for the team. I highly recommend anyone that’s interested in baseball read the book if they haven’t already, (Hey, there’s a movie coming out too!) but it won’t give you any particular insight into the Mets front office or really to any front office. It was a long time ago in baseball years, and even Billy Beane is doing things differently.
One last observation: Much of the misconception of Moneyball is that it’s about walking and then hitting the three-run home run. This isn’t the case at all, and that particular phrase is only popular because it’s how Joe Morgan once described the book on a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
Tags: baseball stars, billy beane, evaluation of players, front office, j p ricciardi, joe morgan, looks like a baseball player, michael lewis, moneyball, moneyball facts, moneyball movie, moneyball review, naked eye, oakland a's, Oakland Athletics, paul depodesta, player evaluation, sandy alderson, scouts, three-run home run, three-run homerun
The search for the next Mets general manager is (almost) over, and for now we don’t have a lot else to talk about. Unfortunately the most important facts are hidden from us; the candidates’ plan for the future. Looking at past history is certainly helpful, but what really determines who the best choice is is the game plan that person has to bring the Mets to the World Series.
Nothing will dispel the adjectives and storylines currently trending among Mets writers. We’ve heard broke, dysfunctional, disastrous, cheap, stupid, tyrannical, clueless and many others. Signing a general manager that’s perceived to be a good choice may quiet that some in the offseason, but that’s only a band aid. If and when the Mets announce their choice this week, the team won’t actually be any better.
This is why signing a guy as a figurehead of autonomy is not the way the Mets should go. A quiet offseason does nothing for ticket sales or profits. It’s the actions of the new hire that will do that, and even that’s unlikely until those actions, acquisitions and trades, put up statistics in regular season games and the Mets look like a winning club. So we can speculate about who is the best choice, but until we see the decisions made, it’s not easy to know that.
Until the Mets are winning, consistently, all those stories people are writing about the Mets being dysfunctional will continue. You’ll hear people crack jokes about Prevention and Recovery, joke about the Mets doctors, criticize Jeff Wilpon’s apparent involvement in the way things are done and reference Bernie Madoff any time anyone gets more money than is thought to be fair or the Mets don’t sign or talk to a player that someone thinks they need.
Outside of the fanatic fan, us bloggers and tweeters and hard-core followers, most people don’t even know or care who the general manager of the team is. If the team is exciting, popular, and winning they will come to the stadium. If it’s not, they won’t. No GM is a savior; it’s going to take a lot of hard work from everyone all the way down to the 40th guy on the extended roster to get this team back to respectability. It’s not about names or faces or organizational structure but about winning. So let’s get this general manager selected and into the office so we can start with the process of building our 2011 World Champion New York Mets.
Jon Heyman is reporting tonight that the Mets have decided on Sandy Alderson. If this is indeed the case, my point stands: The team is not yet better. Let’s take the next step and start interviewing smart, talented people to manage the team. And let’s start keeping some things internal before blabbing it to the media. Either announce it officially, or don’t tell Heyman, because telling him is as good as announcing it.
Tags: 2011 world series champs, Baseball, front office, general manager, leaks, Mets, mets general manager, New York Mets, respect, respectibility, rumors, sandy alderson, World Series, world series champs
Everyone’s down after the news that Carlos Beltran had surgery on his knee and will likely miss Opening Day, and probably most of April. The one thing we were all hoping for in 2010 is that we could go into the season healthy, with a full team on the field, and start feeling good about the Mets again; Positive about the Mets again. This doesn’t help that cause.
I’m going to ignore most of the off-field drama for now. There is a still a lot that we don’t know, about who knew what, what the doctors said, how much the Mets knew or didn’t know, and when Beltran started feeling pain. We know he told Kevin Burkhardt in November that he felt no pain. His knees started acting up again and he had surgery. We’ll go from there.
We haven’t gotten a solid figure on recover time yet. The common figure seems to be around 12 weeks to baseball activity, whatever that means. Is that another month past the 12 weeks to be on the field with the Mets? It’s roughly 12 weeks to Opening Day, so we’re basically talking about most or all of April. If the prognosis is closer to 8-12 weeks, maybe he can be back sooner. Maybe it’s not as serious as all that. I don’t think we’ll really know until we see how Beltran feels in March.
The events of 2009 have given us no reason to believe anything the Mets, or anyone, says about recovery time and return to action. I don’t see how we can do anything else right now. Beltran is irreplaceable and if he’s out for longer than April, things could get murky. Angel Pagan has played very well with the Mets, and while he’s no Beltran, the team can be successful with him in CF temporarily. Fernando Martinez could become a factor too, if he shows something amazing in Spring Training. Of all the possible contigency plans, that has to be the most exciting one.
For now, I’m going to stay upbeat and cross my fingers about all things going well from here on out, and Beltran being on the field by May 1st. A-Rod missed April for the Yankees last year. Championships aren’t won in April. The Mets need to get another solid pitcher, and it looks like they should find another solid lefty OF bat for the bench. I have good feelings on Mike Pelfrey and John Maine based on some stuff I’ve heard from them, and if both of them pitch well in 2010 it would actually overcome the lost offense from Beltran to Pagan.