Jeff Samardzija: not a big fan of analytics

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White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija had this to say about analytics yesterday:

“Sabermetrics, nyeh. Sounds like a lot of hot air . . . I think there are definitely positive aspects to it. I think there is some information you can take from it that’s important. But ultimately from a player’s point of view, you want a coach that can relate to you. Can help you with adjustments mid-game.

“I think preparation with numbers and stats and all that’s great, but when the bullets are flying, you need a guy that knows your personality, can relate to you and get you to change or fix what’s going wrong. If you don’t respect the guy that’s telling you that information, you’re not going to listen to him . . . (Metrics enable) a lot of people to have jobs in baseball, I think. But is it necessary? Yes and no.”

The article in which those quotes are delivered anticipates some blowback for Samardzija and, I presume, someone somewhere on the Internet will provide that blowback. But really, I see absolutely nothing controversial about what he’s saying here. Not a single thing.

While front offices and, to some degree, managers and coaches, need to pay attention to advanced analytics, players don’t. They really don’t. They need to play baseball and they need to be comfortable doing so. Knowledge of analytics is not at all critical let alone essential to that mission.

What Samardzija is saying here about having someone who knows your personality who can tell you information is all about coaches who can convey the lessons gleaned from analytics — and scouting and everything else — to the players in a language they understand and in way which can best put them in a position to practically apply those lessons in a manner consistent with what the team wants from the player. Which has been the entire point of coaching since the first baseball game was ever played.

It can be cool if a player knows stuff about analytics. A nice bonus for a guy who may be more comfortable thinking about baseball in those terms than other players may be. But it is by no means necessary. And, if what every player tells you about keeping things simple and keeping one’s mind clear, it could very easily cause a player to overthink or lose focus.

If I own a team, I want a front office who knows everything they can possibly know that is relevant to winning baseball games, and that includes analytics. I also want coaches who can carry out game plans which reflect the insights gained by my front office, can adapt those insights to the roster which they are given as best as possible and who can communicate with the players in ways that the players best understand.

From my players, though, I basically want them thinking “HULK SMASH.” Everything else is gravy.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.