Wednesday, September 12, 2007

They get paid to say this?

As reported on FJM, former ballplayer Mike Pagliarulo has a website. On that website they have one of the most extraordinarily awful posts ever written. And the comments are even better. (One fellow has been taking to simply quoting Pags' career batting/on base/slugging, which is mean but makes me giggle.)

The author (not Pagliarulo himself) has been commenting too, including such gems as:

"However, acquiring/drafting players through an evaluation process that doesn’t consider fundamentals as MUCH as it does statistics is backwards and a non-championship formula."

One of the fundamentals of baseball is to hit well. Quick - if I hit .300 with a dumpload of walks, 25 dingers, and a high sb success rate, am I fundamentally better or worse than this guy? But this was the cake-topper:

“Player Asset Value” is the key to every successful organization, and evaluating the assets to proper categories supply the ultimate advantage. Advantages trading players, promoting players, and selling players. Maximizing (player) asset value encourages fiscal versatility and profitability. To not evaluate player assets properly, is to do as you say the A’s do, and LIMIT payroll. We feel quite differently and we feel the A’s shouldn’t be limited.

"To describe for you the process of player evaluation that we use, would be to supply you with our social security numbers. That’s not going to happen. However, we will show you the profit/loss player asset value from a few American League teams.

The proper term for this is FLIM-FLAM. This is the biggest flaming toss of gobbledygook I’ve ever read - it’s like something Dogbert would write to fool the pointy-headed boss into giving him millions in consulting fees. It has nothing to do with finding the best possible baseball players on a limited budget.

Just for fun, let's pretend. What would you do if Billy Beane was sacked and you were offered his job? Congrats, you’re GM of the Oakland Athletics. The owner will let you spend $80 million per season on player salaries. What do you do?

If you're Adam White (the author), you “Maximize player asset value.” It sounds an awful lot like what he criticized Beane for doing, because he didn't like the method - that method being to rely on the actual evidence of a player's performance, as represented in his statistical record, and focus on people very good at doing things that aren't too expensive to afford. As a result you get a mess of pretty good ballplayers at a discount cost and get into the playoffs every season.

I mean, anyone could fire up their old High Heat 2001, where there is no such thing as free agency or a player salary structure, and build a team that wins 130 games a year… and even then, every few seasons a lousy 88 win team will beat you in the playoffs. That’s not scrappiness or hustle - it’s odds, and over a long course of time, unlikely events become likely to happen at least once.

To put it in real-world terms, do you think St. Louis had a better team last year, or in ‘04?

Staff batting lines:
‘04 - .278/.344/.460; 214 HR
‘06 - .269/.337/.431; 184 HR

pitching lines:
‘04 - 3.75 era, 6.4 k/9, 1.25 WHIP; 169 HR
‘06 - 4.64 era, 6.1 k/9, 1.38 WHIP; 193 HR

‘04 - 73 sh, 111 sb (70.25%), 121 GIDP
‘06 - 71 sh, 59 sb (64.8%), 129 GIDP

runs for/runs against
‘04 - 855/659
‘06 - 781/762

‘04 - 105-57
‘06 - 83-78

(All numbers courtesy of

Not only were they 22 wins better in ‘04, they hit better as measured by every metric, even to the extent of stealing far more bases at a better rate, sacrificing more often, and hitting into fewer double-plays. The only wash was in defense: errors within 1, dps within 3 (I think, it’s broken down by position so it’s hard to be certain on the team totals). If they played each other 100 times you’d expect the ‘04 guys to win 60 times at least - but you’d also expect to find at least one seven-game stretch where they lost four times. Congrats, that happened to the ‘04 team in the World Series, but it didn’t to the ‘06 team. Don’t make them better, or “built to contend” rather than compete.

BTW - Adam White's on-site bio indicates that he "has written business plans for the acquisitions of the World’s Strongest Man Competition and the Kansas City Royals."

The writer of the business plan for the Kansas City !$^%@! Royals thinks that Billy Beane is bad at being a general manager. It's almost as scary as Pags' mustache in the photo - he could leap from a bridge and glide to safety without spilling his beer.

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