Theo Epstein Speaks: Starlin Castro, The Cubs’ Way, Spring Training, Moneyball

The Chicago Cubs just wrapped up their (brief and belated) organizational meetings, and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein met with the media yesterday, discussing a variety of topics.

  • On Starlin Castro: Epstein doesn’t expect the offseason sexual assault allegation to be a distraction for Castro, whom Epstein expects will report to camp on time this week. On the legal situation, Epstein says that Castro has been cooperative, but no one wants to speculate on an outcome. ‘‘It’s too sensitive an issue,” Epstein said. “I don’t want to speculate. What we said at the convention stands. There’s a lot of concern about it, and our players have a responsibility to conduct themselves in the right way off the field as well as on the field.’’
  • To that end, the Cubs will be bringing in experts from Northeastern University to talk to players about handling themselves off the field. ‘‘I think sometimes we take for granted these young kids, because they’re great at what they do on the field, that they know how to handle all the tough circumstances on and off the field,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘We coach them on the field and expect them to just make great decisions off the field. We need to give them great coaching off the field and give them the tools to make the right decisions.” Particularly with a younger team, the players could probably use some help adjusting to life in the big leagues, in the spotlight, and with money.
  • On “The Cubs’ Way,” which is an actual manual that players and coaches throughout the system will be getting: “You can’t figure this game out. There are things that we learn every year that we’ll make modifications to our teaching approach, so the manual will continue to evolve …. You can’t sum it up in one or two sentences. Everything there is about the game, how we’re going to approach it the same way as an organization from the Dominican Summer League to A ball, Double-A, Triple-A and up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it. Playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important …. ‘The Cubs’ Way’ really boils down to the people – the players, obviously, but everyone, all the scouts and all the people in uniform in the Minor Leagues and the big leagues. For us to teach the game the right way, it’s more than words on the page. It comes down to how deep we dig to get connected to players to teach the game the right way, how much we care, how committed we are, how hard we work. There’s a lot that goes into this and building an organization.” That all sounds great to me, and, frankly, I can’t understand how this is a “new” thing.
  • On Spring Training and the Cubs’ 2012 season, for which Epstein said the goal is to win the World Series: “This is what we’re all here for, is to play the game on the field. Sometimes the winter can stretch on and you forget what you’re doing for a living, and you feel like an accountant or something. We’re real happy to hear the crack of the bat and get together under the same roof and get this thing started.” Ditto, Theo.
  • On ‘Moneyball,’ of which Theo is clearly not a fan: “‘Moneyball’ has become a loaded term. That’s not exactly what we do. I wasn’t a huge fan when certain proprietary information was made available to the public in the first place [in the book]. Instead of a handful of clubs knowing certain things, in a year or two, 30 clubs knew it. It’s not my cup of tea. It sounds like they made a really good movie and a lot of people were entertained, and that’s terrific. But it’s baseball time, not movie time.” I’d heard that Epstein was unhappy about what was revealed in the book, but, man, he’s obviously still pretty irked about it.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

58 responses to “Theo Epstein Speaks: Starlin Castro, The Cubs’ Way, Spring Training, Moneyball”

  1. PeteG

    Moneyball is bullshit anyways. I disagree with almost every notion in the book.

    1. DocWimsey

      So did Jim Hendry.  However, for all the hoopla, it was Weaverball repackaged in economic terms.  That wasn’t irrelevant: but it did separate why teams really win from why the sports media claims they win.

      1. Andrew

        To an extent it was about how teams win. The movie (I didnt read the book), although very good, didn’t really mention the most important reasons the A’s won. Tejada, Zito, and Hudson had a lot more to do with that season than the moshposh of guys that contributed in the movie. While I agree that sabermetrics is a great tool for baseball teams, in the end, everyone will generally agree who the best players are at contributing to winning.

  2. Spencer

    Kind of surprised about Theo being so mad about Moneyball; he wasn’t a GM during the movie. Did he have a career with Boston prior to becoming their GM?

    1. Brady

      No but obviously sabermetrics is his cup of tea and it was his “advantage” against the opposition. Before all 30 clubs knew what you were doing you could go out and snag good guys for cheap because the math was right. Now since people realize that, they will charge you more for high WAR guys. It is like playing poker and the house starts counting cards. They may not know your hand specifically but they can make an educated guess. I think not having your business model sent out to millions of people would be ideal. If it was me, I’d be irked too. It’s not though and I enjoyed the movie and the book but that is probably just because I like things about baseball.

    2. JasonB

      Yes – he was in their FO for a little while before becoming GM. He was also with another team (Padres maybe)? He also engaged Beane as a mentor.

      Think of it this way – if you and your friends developed a foolproof way to beat the stock market and then one of your friends published a book about it (which would effectively nullify your advantage) wouldn’t you be upset about it too? Four or five teams were using asymmetric information to their benefit prior to the release of this book.

      1. Brady

        Wow, your analogy was way better than mine. Kudos to you good sir.

      2. DocWimsey

        In a lot of ways, what Beane did was describe how the Yankees (and other good teams) really were winning, not how the sports media and baseball people themselves thought that they were winning.

  3. ferrets_bueller

    Lol, WAR.

    I’m a big fan of advanced statistics, however…WAR is, IMO, a joke. Its like the Tim Tebow of Sabermetrics. Everyone talks about it, and its by far the most flawed.

    1. DocWimsey

      How? WAR measures how much a player contributes to run-differential. That has the strongest effect of anything on winning (or losing) a high proportion of games.

      1. ferrets_bueller

        WAR takes the flaw of nearly all baseball statistics, context, and compounds it nearly a dozen times. The margin of error, IMO, is beyond astounding. It makes statistical forecasting look like an exact, legitimate science in comparison.

        Its objective is not flawed, but in doing so, its multiplies context and situation driven errors by errors by errors by errors by errors by……

        1. Norm

          Sorry, how do you figure context is so important in WAR calculations? I’m thinking it’s the exact opposite.

      2. MichiganGoat
      3. Ivy Walls

        WOW so much opinion and so much ignorance. Sabermetrics is about results measured in the most objective manner. It is like saying people disagree with clinical data and oppose it pointing to an anecdote. WAR is a tool, based on a large enough sample size to project run differentials that equate to wins against a league average. Certainly there are other considerations that the human experience holds as having relevance…but as a measuring tool WAR is a profound advancement in assessing the results of a player or team.

        Now Epstein is unhappy that new knowledge does not have boundaries…knowledge floats across arbitrary human obstacles because that is the force of evolution. So 30 teams now have the knowledge but only a dozen or so will be able to apply it.

        It is no different when mathematicians used Lotus 123 and then the excel spreadsheet to analyze companies…they found some unknown value but soon the world caught up. Innovate, optimize and succeed

        1. Andrew

          I think WAR is a pretty good thing to evaluate how good someone’s year or career has been, but I’m not sure how good it is at predicting the future. I’d like to see some comparisons between what the statistical experts project a player will do and what they actually do.

          1. DocWimsey

            That is pretty easy to do.  Just take WAR stats for individual players and determine how well WAR from 2008 predicts WAR in 2009, WAR from 2009 predicts WAR in 2010, etc.  What you’ll find is that (say) 2009 WAR correlates well with 2010 WAR.  Because injury is a big reason for decreased WAR, you’ll find that the correlation is stronger if you use WAR measures that tally per game.

            One thing that cannot be easily controlled is shifts in position.  If Miggy Cabrera has a 2012 identical to his 2011, then his WAR is going to go up (in most calculations) because his 2011 replacement was Joe Firstbaseman whereas his 2012 replacement will be John Thirdbaseman.  So, whereas 30 HR is 6 more than average for an AL 1Bman, it is 13 more than average for an AL 3Bman.  Because net HR correlate so strongly with winning, this means that a 30HR 3Bman contributes more to winning relative to replacements than does a 30HR 1Bman.  (This might sound counter-intuitive, but if Miggy replaced the average 3Bman and the Tigers played an average 1Bman, then the Tigers get 54 HR instead of 47 HR: and that’s 1-2 victories, all else being equal; of course, Miggy’s fielding might make that latter statement untrue!)

            1. Norm

              I disagree with this…I don’t think WAR is all that predictive, nor is it meant to be.

            2. DocWimsey

              How can it not be?  Player performance is not random from one year to the next.  This year’s slugging leaders will be a lot like next year’s and last year’s slugging leaders.  This year’s OBP leaders will be a lot like next year’s and last year’s OBP leaders.  This year’s K, BB-allowed and HR-allowed leaders will be a lot like next year’s and last year’s K, BB-allowed and HR-allowed leaders.

              It’s called autocorrelation, and it is a basic consideration in any time-series.

              1. Norm

                Well for one, either version of WAR is going to be using only 1 year of defensive stats to come to a conclusion and its pretty much a rule that 1 year of defensive data can be misleading.
                (look at Dustin Pedroia’s Fangraph page for example; same offensivlely (wOBA, OPS, wRC+, anything really) for both 2010 and 2011 but 2010 had him at 3.2 fWAR, 2011 had him at 8.0 fWAR)
                -
                2nd, there IS some randomness in performance. BABIP and to a lesser extent, HR’s. Prince Fielder and Jacoby Ellsbury are good example of HR randomness.

                1. DocWimsey

                  Yes, fielding varies from one year to the next: but it obviously has only a small overall contribution to WAR given the high WAR of many notoriously bad fielders.

                  And, no, those are horrible examples of random home runs. You are confounding random with probabilistic. Prince’s HR are not random from one year to the next: over the last 5 seasons, he has averaged 40/year. Yes, there is variance: but you expect Prince to hit over 10 HR a year more than the average 1bman.

                  Els is probably a 25 HR/yr guy, which also is about 10 HR/yr better than the typical CFer. Barring injury (a big caveat for Els!), he’ll again probably hit a lot more HR (and doubles and walks) than typical or replacement level CFers.

                  1. Norm

                    I disagree again with the impact fielding has on year to year WAR.
                    Pedroia was the 4th highest WAR in 2011, mainly because of his fielding.
                    Ellsbury blows everyone away, because of fielding.
                    Andres Torres was top 10 in 2010, because of fielding.
                    -
                    Prince has a high of 50 homers and a low of 32 homers over the last 5 years. That’s a pretty large gap. His WAR’s over that time:
                    5.1
                    1.7
                    6.4
                    3.4
                    5.5
                    I don’t see how that can be argued that it’s predictive. Next year could be anywhere from 3.5-6.5 depending on how he does defensively and what % of fly balls go out of the park.
                    Let’s ask the creator, Tom Tango…he’s good at replying to these types of questions.

                    1. Kyle

                      “Pedroia was the 4th highest WAR in 2011, mainly because of his fielding.”

                      I had to track down that you were talking about Fangraphs’ WAR, because you didn’t specify. I’ll keep saying this people: WAR isn’t a single stat. It’s a concept that can be calculated a million different ways for a million different reasons.

                      Okay, anyway, Pedroia’s fWAR was 8.0, good for fourth in the league, and only about 1.9 of that came from his defense.

  4. Kevin

    The cubs have the largest market within their own division and should also have the deepest pockets to bring in a consistent winner. Look at what the Braves did over a 15 year stretch. If Theo is as smart as people say he is then he should be able to shine in Baseball’s Norris Division.

  5. Kevin

    Bud Selig is not a Cubs fan, he’s the former owner of the Brewers. Additionally he has Reinsdork telling him what to do. What is wrong with this picture. Cubs will be lucky not to give away a high level prospect for Theo compensation. If you think there’s no politics in baseball sit back and watch it in action. This is simply a joke.

  6. DowntownLBrown

    Moneyball strategy wouldn’t have worked without Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Harang, Lilly, Rincon….that allows you to win by scoring 2-3 runs and start Scott Hatteberg at 1B. And the movie didn’t mention one of those guys.

    1. Gabriel

      Those pitchers were largely available/identified based on other teams mis-evaluations of them and the A’s “moneyball” evals of them. Zito and Hudson specifically were considered undersized, and zito was a soft-tosser. Hudson didn’t miss many bats so there was less interest in him.

      Just because they weren’t mentioned in the book/movie doesn’t mean they weren’t a product of Oakland’s methodology.

    2. ferrets_bueller

      …thats because the movie is kinda joke in comparison to the book.

      really, I would seriously, seriously recommend reading the book.

      1. hansman1982

        The movie is good if you go in just looking for a movie with a decent story, about a guy sticking his neck out and it paying off, the fact that the overall story is true makes it nicer. If you go in looking for a documentary about the Athletics and the use of Sabermetrics overall, well, you should have known better when you saw Brad Pitt on the marquee.

  7. jstraw

    ” I wasn’t a huge fan when certain proprietary information was made available to the public in the first place [in the book]. Instead of a handful of clubs knowing certain things, in a year or two, 30 clubs knew it.”

    Translation.: Hell yes I play money ball…and it worked a hell of a lot better when Joe Morgan could could convince people he’s not an idiot.

  8. DocWimsey

    First, those As teams averaged 5-6 runs a game. Second, half of the plan was to run out starters who didn’t give up HR or walks (and who often were undervalued for unspectacular K totals), pitch them to the max and then trade them while young.

  9. Kevin

    Simple question……..if the Cubs decided to finally overhaul Wrigley Field and have the need to play elsewhere why would they need to pay the White Sox anything since the stadium is owned by the state of Illinois?

    1. Jim

      Reinsdorf pays $1.5M annually to the ISFA then pockets the rest. Obviously having the Cubs in the Cell for 81 games is going to be a windfall. Not to mention the lease allows any stores/restaurants on the state-owned property to go to Reinsdorf.

      Thanks to Big Jim Thompson for that deal. I have no idea why Big Jim is not in jail with Blago and George Ryan.

  10. Roughriider

    While they are at it the “experts” from Northeastern could have seminars on micro & macro economics. It’s sad to see former players who have made millions of dollars broke in later life.

  11. TWC

    I will forever love Theo for one simple reason: he called the manual the Cubs Way, not the Cubbies Way.

    1. hansman1982

      I think having a PBO that couldn’t give two shits about the icon status of Ryno, Dawson, Banks, Santo, is going to be the greatest thing ever for the Cubs. I am genuinely glad that he is still a Red Sox fan at heart.

      1. Turn Two

        It does not matter who he is a fan of or whether or not they put up statues. You can bring championships either way, fact is it comes down to player evaluation and accountability. Cubs have this crop of fans who seem to think you need to get rid of all history in order to win. It does not matter either way, you just need to pick the right kids and make sound trades.

  12. Pat

    I did not know they would have to pay the Sox rent. I guess I just assumed it would go the the state.

    If they do have to pay rent it would probably be because even though the state owns the property, the Sox have a lease which probably specifies they are the sole occupant. You can’t rent out an apartment to two different people just because you own the building. Keeping with the analogy, it would be the Sox subletting the park to the Cubs when they won’t be using it.

  13. Kyle

    I thought that message board post did a great job of explaining a lot of concepts, but it really lost its way at the end.

    As he said, WAR is not a stat. WAR is a concept. It is an idea. The idea that if we’re going to try to compare players who aren’t easily comparable (different positions, different skillsets, different eras, etc.), we should make that comparison in terms of how valuable they are compared to their opportunity cost (i.e. a replacement player, a player who costs nothing to acquire), and we should attempt to make that comparison in terms of wins, because those are what’s most important. The various WAR stats you see floating around the internet are all just existing value stats repackaged into that concept.

    But how on earth does someone get that far and then suddenly express confusion at the concept of a positional adjustment, and then suggests that those must be arbitrary? He completely loses his way in the second half of the post.

    “Why should a first baseman be penalized for his position and what arbitrary number was agreed upon as said penalty? Should Ellsbury be considered more valuable just because his numbers are so much higher than other center-fielders?”

    The answer is, of course, a resounding *yes*.

    These penalties are not arbitrary and they are not unfair. Again, the key concept here is opportunity cost. In baseball, like in life, every decision comes with an opportunity cost. By making a choice, you are paying the cost of forfeiting your opportunity to make other choices. The opportunity cost of choosing a first baseman is that you no longer have the opportunity to start other first basemen. But it does not prevent you from starting other CFers.

    The best way I’ve come up with to explain it to people is to imagine a card game. Playing cards with values 1-10 are divided into nine different pools each named after a position on the baseball field, and you can only draw one card from each pool. Your goal is to get the highest total possible.

    Each pool has a different mix of numbers. In a few of the pools, there are only high cards. Pool LF has cards 6-9, pool 1B has 8s, 9s and 10s. In other pools, the average card is much lower. In the SS and CF pools, the cards range from 1-7.

    If your goal is to compile the highest score possible and win the game, then you want the most valuable cards you can get. But the cards’ value isn’t necessarily their face value, but their value relative to other cards in the pool. Getting a 7 out of your CF pool is much more valuable than getting an 8 or a 9 out of your 1b pool, even though the latter has a better face value.

    Okay, now for the article that the post linked to, “Is WAR the new RBI,” it’s an astonishing mix of insight and ignorance. The criticism of defensive metrics is very valid (though he doesn’t seem to understand that not all WAR and all defensive metrics are calculated the same way, there isn’t a universal standard or anything).

    However, he’s going to have to bring a lot more to the plate than “But *I* think sluggers are really valuable and WAR doesn’t, so therefore WAR must be flawed.” Sorry, kids, but it doesn’t work that way. When the empirical data doesn’t jive with your preconceived notion, you don’t get to just dismiss the data. Well, it’s human nature to do it, but you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of most arguments. It’s the intellectual descendant of heliocentrism and flat earth. And it’s clear he didn’t do a speck of research before writing the article, because he brought out the old “protection” argument. It is widely accepted in statistical circles that protection has been debunked. If he disagrees, fine, but he’s going to have to bring something more than “I just think it exists.”

    1. DocWimsey

      TB+BB vs. Winning

      Here is a graph that might illustrate the point further (http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/9741/tbvswinning.jpg).  This looks at net Total Bases + Walks vs. winning percentage.  Teams like, say, all of the playoff teams, have a high positive number.  Teams like, say, the Cubs have big negative numbers.  0.500 teams score around 0.

      Take a SS and a 1B man with the same slash line and the same relative fielding skills.  The SS will be providing more total bases relative to the SS’s batting against his pitcher than the 1Bman will be providing relative to the 1Bmen batting against his pitchers.  So, the SS pushes his teams dot further to the right and (more importantly) further up than does the 1Bman.

    2. hansman1982

      Prime example #1 – Jacoby Ellsbury.
      By OPS+ standards his 2011 season was #2 at the CF position in all of baseball with an 8 point drop to 2nd and a 19 point drop to third, to get to the 5th best CF, you lose 25 points. If you shift him to first, he is 5th overall with a couple other options close to him and if you shift him to 2nd he would be #1 by a wide margin, shift him to SS and he is still 1st, at 3rd he is 2nd, shift him to C and his bat would be tied for #1 with a big jump before you get the #3.

      If you look at 2010, 6 of the top 10 hitters, by OPS+, were 1st basemen. The 9th best 1st baseman was still better than the #1 CF (Colby Rasmus) by OPS+.

      Basically, his value as a hitter, comes from his ability to play in center and as such, he has a much higher value over a replacement player because a replacement center fielder isn’t as good of a hitter as a replacement first baseman. You can certainly argue whether he was 6.8 wins better than replacement in 2011 or if that should be 5 or 10 but a positional adjustment is needed.

    3. KyleNovak

      As the writer of the bulk of that particular message board post, allow me to clarify my argument:

      For one half of the game, the nine men currently playing are each doing the same thing; hitting the baseball. Each man’s hitting value can be compared to the other eight hitters in the lineup, because at that point, the defensive position they play has absolutely NOTHING to do with hitting. Anyone can hit anywhere, and that can change from game to game. Using a wide-range of statistics, Player A (power-hitting All-Star first baseman), Player B (slick-fielding contact-hitting center fielder) and Player C (the utility infielder who happens to the last one sitting on the sitting on the bench) can all be compared to each other.

      You (and many others) see nine different position players who have to bat and compare them offensively against others at the position. This is one way to look at this.
      You say it yourself:

      “Playing cards with values 1-10 are divided into nine different pools each named after a position on the baseball field, and you can only draw one card from each pool. Your goal is to get the highest total possible. But the cards’ value isn’t necessarily their face value, but their value relative to other cards in the pool. Getting a 7 out of your CF pool is much more valuable than getting an 8 or a 9 out of your 1B pool, even though the latter has a better face value.”

      Looking to construct a major league team for success? I would agree with that statement. I also agree that a “7″ CF is better than an “8″ 1B. I just want to know with more statistical accuracy why, as you put it, “the latter has a better face value.” How much better exactly?

      I personally see it as nine hitters who have to go out and play defense someplace. In 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury hit .321/.376/.552 with a .402 wOBA and a 150 wRC+ while Jose Bautista hit .302/.447/.608 with a .441 wOBA and a 181 wRC+. Bautista was clearly a better HITTER statistically.
      So was Bautista the better all around player? Not necessarily. Statistics judges each player as three different guys:
      A) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he hits.
      B) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he runs the bases.
      C) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he plays one of many possible defensive positions.
      A+B+C. As much as people want to believe, A is not influenced by C. B is not influenced by C.

      That is my point. Until they come up with a more firm way to judge INDEPENDENT DEFENSIVE VALUE by position, you’ll continue to debate situations like the 2011 AL MVP vote. Defense is such a tough thing to measure and will require tons of data (as mentioned in the beginning of my post).

      As for the one part of my post that was worded poorly. . .
      “. . . and what arbitrary number was agreed upon as said penalty.”
      I shouldn’t have written that, since it is indeed a calculated number based on the averages at the position, etc. I am not confused at how position adjustments work. I SHOULD has said, how am I supposed to take a position adjustment at complete face value when there are glaring flaws, disputes, and such about the defensive metrics.

      UZR and the other existing current metrics are a step in the right direction, but they really are flawed in many ways and that is what the author of the other article was trying to say.

      You mention this, in regards to the aforementioned “Is WAR the new RBI” article:

      “The criticism of defensive metrics is very valid (though he doesn’t seem to understand that not all WAR and all defensive metrics are calculated the same way, there isn’t a universal standard or anything).

      Fangraphs mentions this: (In “Zobrist v Fielder: A Position Adjustment Primer.”)

      “I think it is a legitimate question to desire greater specificity behind the data that created the positional adjustments. Also, considering that defensive metrics are still in the process of being developed and gaining consensus, it is not unreasonable to assume that values credited to different positions by positional adjustment may be updated/corrected in the future.”

      My point is that I don’t want people to say that Ellsbury’s an MVP simply because he had a great (but not top) hitting season and happens to play center field. Show me the cold hard facts that playing center field gives him X additional value and his plus-level defense adds an additional amount to X and do so by NOT relying on a flawed stat like UZR or range factor. I’m hoping that is where the future defensive metrics can take us.

      1. Kyle

        “A) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he hits.
        B) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he runs the bases.
        C) One who provides value (or lack thereof) when he plays one of many possible defensive positions.
        A+B+C. As much as people want to believe, A is not influenced by C. B is not influenced by C.”

        If you want A to be taken in a vacuum, uninfluenced by C, that’s absolutely fine. You simply then measure the player’s defensive value against all players and not just those who play his position. Instead of making the positional adjustment in A, you make it in C and you end up in the exact same spot.

        It’s like comparing (X+Y)+Z or X+(Y+Z). You may add things in a different order, but you get the same answer.

        Most people prefer the current method of taking the positional adjustment out of offense because it minimizes the need for highly accurate defensive metrics and because they aren’t all that curious as to how people across different positions should be valued purely defensively. You end up with a semantically muddled mess where you have to refer to a bad defensive SS as an elite defender, because that’s what he is compared to the rest of the diamond.

        An issue seems to be that we all agree that defensive metrics are not perfected yet, but not to what degree. Some people want to seize on that small amount of uncertainty and use it to attack conclusions that they just don’t feel emotionally comfortable with. The article “Is WAR the new RBIs” or whatever was a gross example of this. His entire thought process could be boiled down to “I like sluggers, but advanced metrics tells me that I overvalue them. But there’s some uncertainty in advanced metrics’ evaluation of defense, so therefore I’m right.” It’s bad logic and it doesn’t hold up.

        The flaws with the various incarnations of WAR, including and especially the lack of a perfected measure of defensive value, do not invalidate the metric. They only slightly widen the error bars.

        1. DocWimsey

          “They only slightly widen the error bars.”  In communicating probability in general, I find that it’s the error bars that throw people: if a method was correct, then it would not have error bars, right?  Don’t the points falling off the mean somehow falsify the idea?

          The problem is that the universe is not deterministic, and baseball is less deterministic than most things.  However, “not deterministic” is not synonymous with “random”: a bell-curve is a non-deterministic, non-random distribution of data.

          That being said, variance itself is a subject of study.  One of the reasons why fielding metrics might vary more from season to season than, say, hitting metrics could be…. *drum roll*…. fielding (in particular, realized range) is more variable than is hitting!

      2. hansman1982

        I disagree with your assertion of “A+B+C. As much as people want to believe, A is not influenced by C. B is not influenced by C.” In theory, that is correct, Prince Fielder’s abilities as a hitter are in no way influenced by his abilities to play CF. However, his value to a team does change depending on what position he can play because of the level of talent, overall in MLB, at that position.

        If I remember reading correctly, the positional adjustments is based on the production of the players who play at that position, It matters none if Ellsbury would be the greatest defensive 1bman ever if he is a center fielder, additionally, it matters none that Fielder would probably be the worst fielding CF ever because he is a first baseman and as such, his offensive production is graded (in WAR) against a league minimum making AAA guy who plays 1st because for half of the game, you have to have guys who can play defense at 9 distinct positions.

  14. Reality Check

    I love how how Ivy Walls just laid the smack down on little ferret, exposing what a tool he is, only to watch him not even have the balls or brain to respond with anything.. Classic ferret!! Haha.. :))

  15. DocWimsey

    Great post.  I would add that history supports this argument.  If you look at the dynasties, then you’ll find that they typically had two things in common.  One, of course, was consistently very-good or better pitching.  Another was high offense out of “skill” positions.  The Yankees had boppers in CF and catcher when other teams did not.  The Reds had big offense from 2B, C and even 3B when other teams didn’t.  Look at the recent Yanks: they routinely put guys up the middle who have good numbers for LFers, never mind middle infielders or CFers.

    Now, a Derek Jeter HR is not worth any more than a Mark Teixiera one, and Teix hits more than does Jeter.  As a Sox fan, am I more afraid when Teix is batting than when Jeter is?  Sure.  However, one of the things that made the Yankees great year-in and year-out  over the last 15 years is how many more runs their shortstop created than the SS of most of their teams.  Jeter is greater than Teix because Jeter is a lot scarier relative to other SS than Teix is relative to other 1Bmen.

  16. Reality Check

    Oh SNAP!! Haha.. Kyle’s bringing the high heat!!

  17. MichCubFan

    The ideas in Moneyball were great. There is a reason that 29 other clubs caught on to it within a couple of years. It was not all inclusive and it is from 2003 so it is not the baseball bible of anything…but the main ideas are definitely still good. And i am not surprised that Epstein is mad about the book coming out because he was thinking of things the way Beane was…so he lost the same advantage bean did…minus the small payroll.

  18. Ron Swanson

    “Sometimes the winter can stretch on and you forget what you’re doing for a living, and you feel like an accountant or something.”

    Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?! Ouch…

  19. ty

    The moneyball king of 2011 was Kevin Towers with Diamondbacks. Nobody predicted their success but every filler move he made was gold and his moves at the time looked as bad as Theo*s pickups. So let* see what happens!

  20. die hard

    Does the Cubs Way have room for bringing back ex-Cubs?…Aardsma and Mitre may still be on market and could help….also, would F. Lopez be able to help team as fill in at 2B and 3B?..worth looking into

  21. Toosh

    Bud Selig is alive! He OKed the Burnett deal. The compensation issue? No hurry.

  22. Serio

    Are some of these guys:

    Rodrigo Lopez

    Andy Sonnanstine

    Ryan Rowland-Smith(L)

    Nate Robertson (L)

    Chris Rusin (L)

    Nick Struck

    Jay Jackson

    going to end up in the pen?