McCarver apologizes for the Nazi/Commie reference, is still wrong about the Yankees

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Good for Tim McCarver for realizing that his comparison of the Yankees to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union was a bit much:

McCarver, a close friend of Torre’s, said Monday in an interview from
Florida that his analogies between the Yankees and the Third Reich and
Stalin’s Soviet Union were “inappropriate.”

Bad for McCarver for still beating the Yankees-need-to-do-more-to-honor-Joe-Torre drum:

But he added, “In my opinion, the underlying point here remains true:
Yankees management has erased Joe Torre from their history.” He said, “I
don’t think the Yankees have embraced the image of Joe Torre.”

I think the funniest thing about all of this is that McCarver’s particular choice of words here — “embrace the image” — puts more fascist/Stalinist imagery in my head than airbrushing people out of pictures does. I get this feeling that McCarver won’t be happy unless there are large, teeming crowds holding up giant images of Torre’s head with the words “Our Dear Leader” under it while Torre waves from a balcony in a military uniform, basking in the cult of personality that the Yankees have created for him.

OK, really all McCarver wants the Yankees to do is to retire Torre’s number: “Retiring his number would mean embracing his legacy,” he said.  I don’t suppose this is insane — the Yankees retired Yogi Berra’s number when he was managing the Mets — but it’s not like Berra (a) wrote a tell-all book before then; or (b) only had his legacy as a manager to justify his number being retired. Billy Martin’s number was retired before he was done managing too, but he wasn’t managing anyone else at the time.

Maybe Casey Stengel is the most appropriate example. His number was retired in 1970, after he was done managing but before he kicked the bucket. If that treatment was good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for Torre, no?

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.