Back in November Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote what may have been the worst baseball column I read all year (and I wasn’t the only one to think so).
In it he demanded that the Padres release catcher Yasmani Grandal due to his positive PED test. The idea is stupid enough. One does not simply cut ties with a 24 year-old catcher who is under team control for five more years and who has shown immense promise. But it was Canepa’s overwrought, dramatic prose that really set his column apart.
According to Canepa, Grandal committed “an incredibly stupid and thoughtless act.” He “tore the club’s head off.” He “burned this franchise, his teammates and its fans.” He called the act “unforgivable,” and made a weird cryptic comment about how there is no place in a decent world for sports. It was really out of sight.
Three passing of three months has not brought Canepa back to Earth, it seems. Via the Avenging Jack Murphy blog, we learn that Canepa has struck again. After noting the questions with the Padres’ pitching staff, Canepa fights the real enemy:
But doing most of the damage is Yasmani Grandal, who after coming on strong at the end of the year seemed set to be the team’s starting catcher for years. But he got himself busted for taking PEDs and will miss the first 50 games of the season, and that’s if the organization takes him back at all, which it shouldn’t because he absolutely screwed this team …
… How long had he been on the juice? Are there any guarantees he’s going to be the same player if he comes back? There seems to be a feeling within the organization that Grandal hasn’t come clean on this drug thing, especially now that his name allegedly has surfaced in the Miami anti-aging clinic scandal. The justice department probably is going to get involved now. Do the Padres want to be a part of this?
He acts as if Grandal was the first person to ever test positive for PEDs and that keeping Grandal somehow puts the Padres at some great risk. He acts as if there is no downside to the Padres releasing one of the more talented young players in the game. I refuse to believe that Canepa is stupid. I refuse to believe that he does not know that teams like the Padres can’t simply ship talent off and that Grandal is likely to have a good major league career ahead of him. I refuse to believe it, not because I know that much about Canepa, but because no person on planet Earth could possess so much weapons-grade stupidity without being sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council.
No, Canepa is not stupid. He’s grandstanding and hand-wringing and moralizing. And that’s worse than stupidity, because that’s willful.
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.
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.