Archive for August, 2009

The Danger of Small Teeny-Tiny Samples

Miguel Tejada’s teammates once accused him of tipping pitches to fellow Dominicans. The evidence?

The Times said certain players started to wonder when in May 2001, Tejada and his close friend Tony Batista — then with the Blue Jays — each had a terrific three-game series. Batista was 6-for-13 with a home run and five RBIs, while Tejada was 4-for-10 with nine RBIs, including a home run in each game.

NY Times Table

The failure to understand that events occur randomly is a failure to understand causality.

A Tale of Two GMs

A few years ago, it was common knowledge among Braves fans that one of John Schuerholz’s two main assistants, Dayton Moore or Frank Wren, would be taking over the reigns when Schuerholz stepped down.

In 2006, Moore left the Braves to become the Kansas City Royals’ GM. For reasons that I really don’t understand (possibly because of Wren’s unsuccessful one-year stint in Baltimore) some fans were high on Moore but not Wren. I mean, do fans really understand what goes on inside front offices to hold such opinions? (I am also perplexed when fans develop opinions about the draft, when all they are doing is aggregating the opinions of others)…but, anyway…Moore was gone, and it was Wren who took over prior to the 2008 season.

Wren suffered significant criticism in his first term as GM, which is expected when you take over for a popular GM. After public rebuffings by Jake Peavy, Rafael Furcal, and Ken Griffey—and rebukings by John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and even John Schuerholz (strangely apologizing to Glavine)—Wren was not a popular man. Some fans were also highly critical of his acquisitions of Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and Garret Anderson.

The Braves will likely miss the playoffs this year—though, I have not given up hope!—but Wren deserves much credit for rebuilding the team. All of the above players have played well, though each player has had down points during the season. The team greatly improved the team over last year’s roster, and only Lowe has a contract that may turn out to be a long-term burden. I am particularly pleased with Anderson, who has been exactly league average for a measly $2.5 million. Replacement level—whatever that is—my ass.

The only blemish on Wren’s year—other than the PR hits that are inevitable in his position—has been the rushing of Jordan Schafer and the continued reliance Jeff Francoeur. But, to his credit, he fixed both mistakes.

Moore, on the other hand, has had a disastrous year, and not just in terms of team performance. It began with the acquisition of Mike Jacobs, but the acquisition of Yuniesky Betancourt did the most damage to Moore’s reputation as an up-and-coming GM. His penchant for ex-Braves prospects is understandable, but is becoming embarrassing. He loves Tony Pena so much he can’t even give up on him properly—seriously, he’s being converted to a pitcher? And then there was the Rany Jazayerli incident, which makes Frank Wren’s PR gaffes look like subtle burps behind a napkin.

I really don’t have anything against Moore. I have very little idea of what he does behind the scenes, and for all I know if I had the same information he does, I might have made identical moves in his position. This post is about how the career paths of Wren and Moore have diverged. It’s like seeing Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake many years ago as a power couple and wondering, “what does she see in him?”

As a Braves fan, I have been happy with Wren. I may not always agree with his moves, and I’m not even sure how much power he has. The thing I like most about Wren is his personality. Unlike his predecessor, his is open, honest, and non-hostile during interviews. He stands by his decisions and doesn’t hide from mistakes.

Quick Thoughts

Hanley Ramirez‘s Plus/Minus for the past four seasons: -6, -37, +3, +4.

— Gwinnett Braves next to last in International League attendance, drawing less than their projected annual attendance of over 6,000. Not good when you are experiencing the honeymoon effect of a new park and team. Nice work!

— G-Braves Stadium’s naming rights revert from the County to the Braves on Monday. Braves get first $350K, County gets next $350K, both parties split the remainder. So much for getting $500K to pay off the debt. Lando Calrissian had a better deal with Darth Vader. If I was fabulously wealthy, I would buy the rights and name it Nasuti’s Folly. I encourage use of this name informally.

— Frank Wren deserves much praise for rebuilding the Braves. But, I wonder where the Braves would be if Matt Diaz had been the team’s everyday right fielder from day one and if they hadn’t rushed Jordan Schafer. I estimate that if Diaz and Jeff Francoeur switched their playing time, the Braves would have gained approximately $2 million/year in superior performance.

Puckett’s “Called” Shot

I heard an amusing response from Leo Mazzone on my trip into the office today regarding a claim that Kirby Puckett “called” his home run off Charlie Leibrandt in the 1991 World Series.

Just before Puckett went to bat against Charlie Leibrandt, he told Crowley he was about to end the game with a home run.

“Puckett told me, ‘Crow, if they leave Leibrandt in there, this game is over,’ ” Crowley said. “That’s the God’s honest truth. That’s fact, and that happened. If you listen (to the tape), he gives me a hug and says,

‘Crow, I told you.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you did.’

I don’t know if that’s calling anymore than when my dad said to me when Leibrandt came into the game, “It’s over”—a phrase that was uttered by almost everyone watching the game. Anyway, Leo Mazzone was not amused with the story, and he had the following to say (paraphrased):

Terry Crowley, the hitting coach of the Baltimore Orioles, said that: Terry “the King of Swing” Crowley.

Bold indicates emphasis that I inferred to be sarcasm.