Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bookends

Let's hope that the 40 innings of baseball played over two games (22 on April 17 and another 18 today) are the bookends of our bad stretch. Our season took a turn for the worse after that 22 inning loss to the Rockies, so we needed that spectacular outcome today.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was very proud of the way our guys kept battling throughout the game, and to have it end with a dramatic three-run homer by Adrian was exactly what we needed. We have now already scored more runs in 24 games in May than we did in 27 games in April, as both Kouz and Brian Giles have joined Adrian in swinging the bat very well.

Sometimes the most successful teams are those that get key performances from unlikely sources. In recent days we've had three relievers who weren't in our Major League spring training step up when we really needed it. Bryan Corey, Mike Adams, and Josh Banks have combined to give up one earned run in about 20 innings of work. So maybe the tide is beginning to turn...

12 comments:

zino said...

Hi Paul,

Again, great blog... Just finished reading your post on power vs speed. The steroid era is almost behind us and the HR totals are coming down, what effect do you think this will have on the power vs. speed argument? Hr's are now presumably going to be harder to come by then before. Will following the Power over speed philosophy be harder and more expensive to implement then it was before? And isn't that contrary to the "money ball" philosophy?

My best,
zino
858 735-0985

luke said...

zino, I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the end of the 'steroid era' and the depression in homeruns this spring are related at all.

It is clear that lots of players were using steroids during the nineties and early aughts, but what little solid information we (the public) have about steroid use indicates that pitchers used steroids at least as much as hitters. Which means that we can't simply assume that steroid use led to massive homerun inflation during the last 15 years.

I haven't seen any data to suggest that the lower homerun rates in 2007 and 2008 are anything more than normal variance. Baseball always goes through cycles and we need to see a lot more data before we declare that the elevated homerun rates of the late 20th century (I'm looking at you year 2000) were actually caused by steroid use, rather than just occurring at the same time.

luke said...

zino, I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the end of the 'steroid era' and the depression in homeruns this spring are related at all.

It is clear that lots of players were using steroids during the nineties and early aughts, but what little solid information we (the public) have about steroid use indicates that pitchers used steroids at least as much as hitters. Which means that we can't simply assume that steroid use led to massive homerun inflation during the last 15 years.

Is there any data to suggest that the lower homerun rates in 2007 and 2008 are anything more than normal variance? Baseball always goes through cycles and we need to see a lot more data before we declare that the elevated homerun rates of the late 20th century (I'm looking at you year 2000) were actually caused by steroid use, rather than just occurring at the same time.

Also, I think it is incorrect to suggest that the 'moneyball' philosophy was to favor hitting/obp over speed or defense. The real heart of moneyball was to find weaknesses in the market and exploit them. At the time the book was written baseball teams as a group were placing too much emphasis on speed, defense and batting average. Consequently, players with strong OBP skills but weak defense were a better value. the market price for that type of player was less relative to his actual production than a defensive wizard or speedster. that was the key to the 'moneyball' philosophy. If you have a limited about of money to spend, you should maximize value by finding those players whose skill-sets are undervalued by the MLB market.

So even if the baseball landscape were to shift drastically (and stolen bases began to correlate more strongly with run-scoring/winning than homeruns)then changing your team philosophy to reflect that shift wouldn't really be against the moneyball philosophy at all. you would simply be trying to maximize the value on your roster.

Paul: great blog! it really has been fantastic reading, even for someone who isn't really a padres fan at all, though sunday's game does have me coming around on them. How long would such a game have to go before teams started using position players? Would you consider using a position player before the next day's starter, just to ensure that someone could pitch the next day? Obviously, you were lucky enough to have an off-day on monday, and the game didn't go THAT long, but the reds did use two starters, so I was wondering.

Scalma said...

when is will venable coming up!?

Steve Adler said...

Paul,

I'm proud to say on Sunday that I was at the game. I came early to take some pics with the team. I stayed through all 18.

Banks really left it all out there and to see him get that win was awesome!

The team showed a lot of heart out there, although it seemed at times, they were just spent, In the end they made it happen.

I must admit the only downer of the day was that Greene, Giles and Gonzalez came out very late for pictures. My poor friend that came all the way from AZ and I weren't able to catch a quick photo with any of them. I realze that Greg Maddux was pitching so he was off limits, but the others left many a fans dissapointed.

zino said...

luke

Regarding the decline in HR, I like your argument about the pitchers being on steroids also and hence, both sides of the ball being affected the HR totals have not declined... However, I am pretty sure I read an article somewhere that had the data showing a significant decline over the last 2-3years... I'll try to find it or analyze the numbers myself...

You missed my point about moneyball. I am well aware of what moneyball was defined as, and it goes exactly to my point.. If power becomes scarce and therefore expensive, it will be difficult to find value. The Padres right now, from what I hear from the front office (of course what they give for public consumption, might not be what they are actually doing) are still valuing Power above speed... My point was that it will be difficult to still find value in those areas now the power numbers are down, hence difficult to stay with the "moneyball" philosophy... Of course should they change their ways and look for value in speed or other player attributes then it’s a different story...

Best,

zino

Eric said...

It's been nice to catch glimpses of what we hoped this team would be in the two wins over the Reds. In the most overcrowded position in the game, talent-wise, Adrian is really starting to stand out. He better be careful or the national media is going to take notice soon.

Five more days 'til the Chase Headley era begins! :hoping:

Paul DePodesta said...

zino and luke,

To some degree you're both correct. I would say, though, that our job is to find value wherever it appears. That brings me to another future topic - absolute value versus relative value.

Paul DePodesta said...

steve adler,

Thanks very much for coming to game, sticking it out, and for the comment. We try to make our players as accessible as possible for our fans. Given your experience, hopefully we can do an even better job of that going forward.

Paul DePodesta said...

wow - plugs for both Venable and Headley...

william said...

speaking of bookends, how about Adrian and Kouz on Tuesday!!!!

and what is up with shipping off Jared Wells, a player the friars control for the next three years cheaply, and could even start in a pinch if necessary, and bringing back a scrub that was DFA'ed a few days ago.

Steve Adler said...

Paul,

Couple things, can you shed some light on the thinking behind this jared wells trade?

We have some guys at Portland that seem to be producing could you give us some insight on them?

Myrow? (is he a AAAA guy?)

Venable? (I thought he was more of a corner OF in petco)

Ambres? (Not sure if I should admit this, but I went out to spring traing this year for about two weeks, so you could say, I'm a bit of a die hard. Ambres seemed like a poor mans Milton Bradley, but with a lot of holes in his swing)

Stransberry? (AAAA?)

Can you tell us more about Cedric Hunter and how he projects?

Thanks!