Moneyball

Moneyball is dead. Long live Moneyball.

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Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than when something bad happens with the A’s and some clever wag — often a print sports journalist who still bases his Cy Young vote on wins — makes some crack about “well, I guess “Moneyball” isn’t helping anymore, huh?” This is usually followed by chuckling, snorting and picking up the Andy Rooney book he had been reading, highlighter in hand.

The response to this, which has been obvious to anyone who actually read the book for several years, is that “Moneyball,” is not a synonym for “whatever Billy Beane is doing,” nor is it shorthand for “take walks, hit dingers.”  Rather, it was a book that described the idea of finding market inefficiencies — which is something its author, the financial market experienced Michael Lewis, was exceedingly familiar — and applying it to baseball.

Anyone could do it, and for the past decade, everyone has been doing it.  And, not soon after “Moneyball” was published, the idea of “take walks, hit dingers” ceased to be a market inefficiency because the very definition of a market inefficiency is something which has not been widely published in a best-selling book. By then it has become big bright information which, as everyone knows, is immediately gobbled up by the markets as soon as it is made big and bright. Which, by the way, is why you should never take your investing advice from books you can buy at the airport, but that’s another subject.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t still market inefficiencies. There always will be because markets aren’t perfect and, at any given time, there will be ways in which the savvy can exploit those concepts which can’t be found in best-selling books.

I hadn’t read it until today, but Bill Barnwell tackled that topic over at Grantland last week. And, after making a longer and better argument out of the concept I mentioned above, set out to describe the many areas — aside from “take walks, hit dingers” —  that teams are or should be trying to exploit.  Like defense and bullpen usage and that sort of thing.

It’s a good piece if you have the time. But if you don’t have the time, at least enjoy this little nugget that would have been Quote of the Day fodder had I not wanted to write a little more:

Moneyball was about statistics and on-base percentage in the same way that the ‘77 punk revolution was about looking like Richard Hell; what was relevant and counterculture then is mainstream and comfortable now. Babies get mohawks now, and they come out of the womb knowing that Jeff Francoeur sucks. So what’s a small-market team to do now? Where are the market inefficiencies for them to exploit in 2011? What’s the new Moneyball?

Once again, Richard Hell shows us the way.  So forget that [blank] generation that likes to make the dumb and easy “Moneyball” jokes. They’re going, going gone.

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.