Friday, October 28, 2005

More Beef

My attempt to cease reading newspaper columnists is a little like ending a fling with an ex. It works for days at a time, but every so often I slip. And it really all boils down to two reasons: familiarity and accessibility.

When you break up with your girl, you’re bound to still see her, because that’s all you’ve done for the past X months, years, whatever. Sometimes self-control can be displayed, and the acquaintance can be made without a physical outburst. However, sometimes it just feels so natural (and she’s showing some skin) that a knocking of the boots is inevitable.

While Mike Lupica has never shown any skin to gain readership, the teasers on newyorkdailynews.com do the trick. Once I read that first paragraph, I’m so familiar with reading his column that I always break down and say, “okay, what does this idiot have to say today?”

(Aside: I don’t really think Lupica is an idiot. I just think he exaggerates and sensationalizes ideas that are, in reality, pretty minute. He’s a great storyteller and knows how to stir the pot, hence him being the top guy at the New York Daily News. But I just have to question him when it comes to articles like “Top Ten Reasons The Yankees Failed” that don’t give any concrete reasons at all. It should read “Top Ten Sensationalized Reasons The Yankees Failed (Without Providing You Any New Information).” Okay, I’m done – for now).

The light at the end of the tunnel here: I don’t still have flings with recent exes. So, naturally, I’ll one day be able to browse a daily newspaper and filter out the opinions and read just the facts that didn’t pop up on the front page of ESPN.com. But until then, I’ll always be tempted by the likes of Lupica, John Harper, Dan Graziano (who thinks that a homer in the top of the ninth is a walk-off), Joel Sherman, Bill Madden, Mike Vaccaro, and George King.

This goes beyond Yankees columnists, too. Daily, I peruse ESPN’s Page 2, and daily I find myself dumbfounded by some of the writing contained there. I’ve already weaned myself off of Jason Whitlock and Skip Bayless (both are the kings of exaggeration and terribly thought out ideas), and Jim Caple’s newest work, “24 College Avenue,” has made me swear him off, since I don’t particularly need a journalist to describe exaggerated college life to me. I was there, I lived it. I don’t need some 30-something journalist who is unable to escape his college days.

Three guys there, Eric Neel, David Schoenfield and Rob Neyer (though I despised Schoenfield and Neel’s “Second Guessing” bit during the playoffs), still catch my attention, but less and less lately. Obviously, I’m still an avid fan of Bill Simmons, and actually find myself spending much more time on his website than Page 2.

This isn’t to say there aren’t good columnists out there. I actually enjoy Lisa Olson of the Daily News. She is wonderful with language, and provides bits of insight here and there. Tony Kornheiser remains a staple of my reading, mainly because he’s one of the funniest sports columnists out there. I read Bob Klapisch once in a while, just as long as he’s not offering up prospects for Torii Hunter. And let us not forget my favorite newspaper columnist, T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times. The guy has a sense of humor, he’s not afraid to call out ballplayers, and his opinions seem well reasoned.

The question born of today’s post: will I continue to voice my displeasure with the mainstream media on a weekly basis? Chances are I’ll get tired of it after a while, especially after I’m done with the ex for good. But for now, it’s a healthy release. Plus, when the biggest news item of the day – aside from the World Series – is Sheryl Swoops coming out of the closet, well, there have to be better things to write about.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Leave It To The Frenchies

As women continue their attempt to bridge the gap between male and female sports, leave it to a French dude to try and move the other way.

A link to the story is here.

Apparently, Jean Van de Velde thinks he is making a statement by attempting to enter the Women's British Open. I don't know what he thinks the message is, but it comes across to me like: "Hey, I'm going to enter a tournament where I can drive the ball significantly further than anyone else."

The point Van de Velde is attempting to make, obviously, is that if women are beginning to enter men's tournaments, men should be able to enter women's tournaments. That's like saying that a senior should try to play freshman baseball because a freshman is trying to play varsity.

I'm not trying to berate women's golf, but it's just fact that they cannot drive the bar as far as a male can, and that places them at a significant handicap. If, however, a woman thinks she can overcome this physical handicap, by all means she should be allowed to enter a tournament at a higher skill level.

Van De Velde is French, so that opens him up to a plethora of "the French are sissies" jokes, and rightfully so.

You know what? I hope Van de Velde gets into the Women's British Open (even though I know he won't). That way, he'll go through a ton of embarassment to prove NOTHING. Well, other than the fact that his brain cannot process complex thoughts.

As a closing analogy, Van de Velde seems like a guy who would like playing on "Rookie" in Madden.

That's Efficiency, Homes

The common template for printing a ballplayer’s stats is .250/.250/.250, and since everyone knows what each value is, I’ll skip the part where I explain that it’s batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage (oops).

Yesterday, I opined that the OPS statistic – the addition of the last two .250’s – should be replaced by what I believe is a more efficient statistic. However, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense for it to completely take over for slugging percentage. If a walk is as good as a hit (as one school of new thought in baseball, hence focus on the OBP), shouldn’t walks be averaged into slugging percentage?

Of course, that would make the OBP statistic a bit less relevant, since walks would be accounted for in slugging percentage. But who’s to say that OBP is necessarily the best indictor of efficiency?

I’m relatively new to this sabermetrics thing, but I’m a bare bones kinda guy. I would rather have the parts of a formula and evaluate them in my own way. If I come up with something similar to what someone else came up with, so be it. But I like to reason these things out in my head rather than rely solely on someone else to provide the statistic.

The most fascinating statistic I came across was simply labeled “outs.” What a stripped down concept, I thought. After browsing a sabermetrics glossary for exactly went into that stat, I had to slap myself in the forehead. D’oh! It made perfect sense: double plays and caught stealing count against you (I had figured on sacrifices).

To anyone entangled with sabermetrics, I may seem like a doof for not figuring this out earlier. And I’ll accept that assessment of myself, because like I said before, I’m new to this way of thinking.

ANYWAY. After discovering the outs statistic (if I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me), I scoured the rest of the “special batting” line at baseball-reference.com, but found no statistic that I think makes perfect sense: non-out percentage.

The formula is rather simple. Instead of walks and hits divided by plate appearances, this would be non-outs (plate appearances minus outs) divided by plate appearances. The idea behind it is that if you are rewarded for walking – i.e. you didn’t make an out – then you should be penalized for a caught stealing (since you effectively took yourself off the base paths and created an out) and for grounding into a double play (since you not only made an out, but you took another guy off base).

By the same token, if we want these stats to be as efficient as possible, why wouldn’t stolen bases minus caught stealing be factored into slugging? That’s a free base, and while there obviously was an amount of risk to the action, guys usually steal bases at consistent clips. So why not reward them for turning a single into a double via a little thievery? This may be an argument for another day.

So here we go again, this time the top ten guys in OBP in the AL, followed by their non-out percentage (NOP). One of these days, I’ll learn how to make one of those fancy pantsy easy to read charts:

Jason Giambi -- .440, .428
A-Rod -- .421, .401
Travis Hafner -- .408, .393
David Ortiz -- .397, .379
Vlad -- .394, .364
Jeter -- .389, .359
Man Ram -- .388, .357
B-Rob -- .387, .359
Mike Young -- .385, .355
Marky T -- .379, .355

Sure, everything seems to stay in order, save for B-Rob, whom Billy Beane would be salivating over if not for Mark Ellis. Speaking of Ellis, where the hell is he on this list (that I scoured off ESPN)?? Yes, that deserves a double question mark, because he has a .385 OBP, and has more at bats than Giambi. What, does ESPN think that just because they haven’t heard of him that he doesn’t count? Well, his NOP is .354, if anyone cares.

(Aside: I thought official stats were official once you had a certain amount of at bats. Is it a certain number of plate appearances? Because that’s the only explanation that would make sense for Ellis’s absence from this list – he also wasn’t on mlb.com’s list. He fell short of 500 plate appearances, at 486. Does anyone know?)

If that list proves anything, it’s that a lot of guys fall into that .350-.360 area. This is effective for evaluating players, since it proves that you’re not getting much more efficiency out of Manny than you are out of Mike Young, save for the power numbers. If I had my way (and I never will), these two players would be compared like this:

Young: .331/.355/.552
ManRam: .292/.357/.645

I should clarify what I said in the last paragraph: Manny is negligibly more efficient than Young when it comes to avoiding making an out, but much more efficient in other areas. From just a glance at the numbers, it would appear that Manny walks more, avoids double plays better, and gets caught stealing less (yes, equal, yes).

It is my belief that these statistics, NOP and OBS (which I may rename, considering its similarity in acronymity to OBP and OPS), will help better judge a ballplayer from an efficiency standpoint. These are the numbers that I will use in evaluating the returning Yankees and the players I believe they should pursue this off season.

But it won’t stop there. There are also other stats out there, such as at bats per strikeout and bases on balls to strikeout ratio that are not only telling statistics, but seem to remain more consistent over the years. That is for next week, however, as I would like the dust to settle before I get into anything serious about trades and free agents.

Congrats to the White Sox. I have to say, nothing would be scarier than bringing this team back as is next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Scoop on Cash

Okay, I'm not going to take full credit for it, since I caught it on Boston.com of all places.
Here's the link to the article that says Cashman has agreed to re-up with the Yanks.

Thanks to Boston.com and Boston Dirt Dogs.

I guess you have to give 'dem New Englanders some wicked credit sometimes.

Slugging and On Base

You’ll have to bear with me today, as 1) my subject matter is just an idea that popped in my head, not a tested formula, 2) I have plenty of ire directed towards the Houston Astros in general, Ezequiel Astacio in specific, and 3) you always have to bear with me, as I tend to be slow at times.

I just finished reading Moneyball for the second time (and it may become a yearly or bi-yearly reading, considering how much more I absorbed this time around), so I’m sitting around thinking of alternative ways to evaluate baseball. There has been such an influx of new baseball knowledge in the last 20 years that it would, on the surface, seem a difficult task to find another significant offensive statistic.

Nor is one really needed. Baseball is inundated with so many meaningless stats that adding one more – even if it has meaning – would be sheer overkill. But I must say that I have noticed a flaw of sorts in the OPS statistic.

Here’s a disclaimer before I get into this: I didn’t do full-out research in this category. I scoured glossaries of sabermetric terms, and did not find the statistic that I am about to describe anywhere. However, I concede that it is a logical stat, and that it may very well exist, either in more obscurity than I unraveled or in language that I didn’t understand.

There are two flaws in adding together on base percentage and slugging percentage. First, by adding them together with no modifiers, it assumes that each statistic carries equal weight, which they do not. In fact, no two statistics in baseball are equal in value. Second, one value is out of a possible 1.000 while the other is out of a possible 4.000, making their addition a bit lopsided.

The reason OPS is so highly regarded is because of the newly realized importance of on base percentage and slugging percentage over batting average. I guess the thinking is that if you slap these numbers together, you get the guys who are good at both rising to the top, with guys who are apt at one and not the other right behind them (obviously, due to the nature of the numbers, power hitters are rated higher because of their slugging percentages, while guys who get on base often are right behind).

Isn’t there a more fitting way to put together an OPS-like stat? I realize what I am about to say also has its share of flaws, but I think it is more efficient than just slapping the numbers together. Here are the 2005 AL OPS leaders, with their adjusted stat (On Base Slugging, for lack of a better term) listed next to it.


  • Player OPS OBS

  • A-Rod 1.031 .666

  • Hafner 1.003 .652

  • Ortiz 1.001 .654

  • Manny .982 .645

  • Giambi .975 .642

  • Vlad .959 .611

  • Teixiera .954 .621

  • Sexson .910 .605

  • Konerko .909 .592

  • Roberts .903 .561



As you can see, the mingling of OBP and Slugging in this manner shakes up the list a little but, most notably at the end with Brian Roberts. Ostensibly, this would suggest that guys with higher slugging percentages and lower on base percentages would also be favored by this system. But look at Giambi v. Manny. There is a wide discrepancy in their stats, since Giambi had an OBP .052 points higher than Manny, while Manny’s slugging was .059 points higher. Yet Manny’s superior slugging numbers don’t give him an enormous edge in OBS.

Also, a gander at David Dellucci is also telling: .367 OBP, .513 Slg., .879 OPS (14th in the AL), .587 OBS (slips in right behind Konerko, way ahead of Roberts).

Another experiment is with the 11th and 12th ranks in OPS, Michael Young and Gary Sheffield, respectively. Young had an OBP of .385 and a Slg. of .513. Sheff was worse in both categories, posting an OBP of .379 and a Slg. of .512. Yet, when the average is taken, Young ends up with an OBS of .552 while Sheff towers at .570. How can this be?

Basically, this scrutinizes every plate appearance. If on-base percentage is considered more important than batting average (because you don’t give up an out and give your team a chance to score a run), then why aren’t walks implemented in slugging percentage? You get first base, just like a single, which is the idea behind OBP.

Of course, there are flaws here, just like any stat. For instance, Young is being penalized for being a leadoff hitter, and therefore having more plate appearances. So possibly organizing these stats based on plate appearances is an option. This makes more sense when evaluating more leadoff hitters. Jeter’s OBS is .508; Chone Figgins’s is .433; David DeJesus sits at .489; and monster leadoff man Grady Sizemore is .523.

As always, I’ll be looking for ways to effectively implement this and other non-traditional stats. Up tomorrow: non-out percentage vs. on base percentage.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2003: Sheff or Vlad?

Immediately following the Yankees untimely exit from the playoffs, I was prompted by my buddy Jon to defend the decision following the 2003 season to sign Gary Sheffield rather than Vlad Guerrero. Obviously, he was frustrated at Sheffield’s lack of performance in the series and equally frustrated at Vlad’s success.

I told him it sounded like an interesting endeavor, and immediately jotted a few things down in my notebook on the topic. But then this little light went on in my noggin, and I began to wonder why Jon was even pondering this question.

True, he hit .333 in the series against the Yankees, but he had zero RBI and extra base hits to go with a mere two walks (.333/.400/.400) If it weren’t for his five runs scored (three in the 11-7 drubbing), he would have had a bona fide terrible series.

Then came the Chicago series, where he went 1 for 20 with zero walks, for a line of .050/.050/.050. The Yankees series considered, it looked a little like this: .184/.225/.225, 0 RBI, 3 K. For a quickie comparison, the derided A-Rod went .133/.380/.429, 0 RBI, 5 K. And the man in question, Mr. Sheffield, went .285/.318/.318, 2 RBI, 2 K.

Of course, the playoffs provide such a small sample size that much of what happens must be yielded to luck. But this isn’t leading any closer to the point I’m eventually going to make. Rather, this is merely to ask the question of why Sheff v. Vlad even came up following this series. Vlad’s performance was by no means impressive and if anything, the argument should be: why are Sheff and A-Rod catching flak while Guerrero gets a pass?

Jon, you wanted it, and here it is: why signing Gary Sheffield was a more attractive option than Vladmir Guerrero.

When both of these men appeared on the free agent market following the 2003 season, everyone could agree that they were elite right fielders. Not only could both slug with the best of them, but they both had (have) cannons for arms – though Vlad is surely superior in that department. There were two differences, however, that would stand out in the minds of fans.

The first was the age factor. Vlad would be 28 years old entering the 2004 season, while Sheffield was entering his 35th year. Seven years is nothing to be taken lightly in baseball, especially when one is, by most conventional standards, entering his prime, and the other, by those same standards, in the twilight years.

The second was the injury question. Sheff hadn’t missed a considerable amount of time since 1995 with Florida (he had 130-plus games played every year since), while Vlad had missed some time in 2003 with back problems. Big, bulky guy with back problems? Surely that was a red flag for anyone interested in bringing in Vladdy Daddy.

So Vlad has the edge in age, while Sheff has a slight advantage with injury risk. It’s only logical now that we move to offensive productivity. When you have two monstrous bats like Sheff and Vlad, it’s hard to nit pick, but I’m going to any way.

If you’re a believer in the importance of OBP and walks to strikeouts ration (yes, I am), the choice becomes a bit clearer when analyzing these statistics. Since 1998 was Vlad’s first full season in the majors, the analysis will begin there. His OBP from 1998 through 2003: .371, .378, .410, .377, .417, .426. Sheffield over that same period: .428, .407, .438, .417, .404, .419. I think these numbers speak for themselves.

As do their strikeouts to walks numbers. Gary Sheffield has walked more times than he has struck out in every season since 1993. What this demonstrates is an impeccable command of the strike zone, which is an invaluable asset. Put yourself on base for free often, and avoid putting yourself in the dugout without putting the ball in play. Guerrero, on the other hand, accomplished this feat only once, which was during his career year of 2002 (he did again in ’05, though that was due more to his lack of strikeouts. Plus, we’re not talking about ’05, we’re talking about everything up through ’03).

Another underused offensive statistic is number of pitches seen per plate appearance. This not only lets the other guys get a good look at what a pitcher is hurling, but it also wears said pitcher down, making him more vulnerable and allowing an early entry for the guys in the bullpen.

Free-swinging Vlad had seen an average of 3.16 pitches per plate appearance through 2003. Sheffield, ever the picture of plate discipline, had seen 3.64 per plate appearance. The difference over the course of a 650 plate appearance season is 312 pitches.

To further prove that these misfit statistics do hold some weight in discerning players, I’m going to take this quick second to list both men’s slugging percentages through the years, beginning in ‘98:

Vlad: .589, .600, .664, .566, .593, .586
Shef: .524, .523, .643, .583, .512, .604

Seeing as how these numbers are so volatile from year to year, it becomes clear that they are not very efficient in analyzing performance. On base percentage, however, seems to fluctuate less, and thus can be deemed a consistent performance.

Intangibles are another angle to view this conundrum from. Vladimir Guerrero played every inning of his MLB career with the Montreal Expos, a team that had a mere two winning seasons from his debut in ’97 through his departure following ’03. Sure, one year they finished second in the AL East, but they were an egregious 19 games behind the Braves and 12.5 back of the Giants for the Wild Card. Translation: never been in a real pressure situation.

Not only had Sheff been on three postseason teams, including the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, but he had also played in big market LA, so playing under high scrutiny was nothing new to him. But while he had postseason and pressure experience behind him, Sheff was known for an attitude problem. Obviously, that has to be a factor in signing someone, but Sheff’s behavior was far less severe when compared to some of his peers. Hey, Paul O’Neill was said to have had an attitude problem.

This final point is a personal one, as I’m sure it didn’t play a part in the front office’s decision (though I’m sure number of pitches seen per plate appearance didn’t either). Vlad is an intimidating fellow. Bring him along with you to a gathering, and he’s going to command respect because he’s so large and intimidating. But Sheff…Sheff could be confused for a serial killer. And yes, that’s a good thing. If you were to bring Sheff to a party, everyone there would kiss your ass just so he wouldn’t jump them and take their wallets.

I think I mention this once a game: Sheff must be the scariest guy for a pitcher to face. He in the batter’s box waggling his bat like he’s winding up for the kill, and his demeanor makes it seem like he’s going to punish the pitcher, not the ball. And that, my friends, is something you cannot put a price tag on.

Vladimir Guerrero came awful to signing his name to a contract for the Yankees, and if it weren’t for The Boss and Sheff hammering out some details in the 11th hour, Vladdy Daddy could be in pinstripes right now. But all things considered, is that really what the Yanks wanted? Gary Sheffield exemplified the Yankees style of disciplined hitting, and brought a bat full of frozen ropes with him. His numbers that lie beneath batting average, home runs, and double prove that he is, despite his age, still an elite player, and probably will be beyond the expiration of his contract following the 2006 season.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bleedin' Some Dodger Blue

Since the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs on October 10th, all the buzz in the New York newspapers has circled around the relationships between George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre, and Brian Cashman. Last week, we got an answer to the Torre question. Entering this week, it’s all about the Cash-man.

Anyone reading this site knows about the Cashman situation, so I’m not going to delve into the specifics. In fact, an article can be found in any local newspaper over the past week or so that can fully explain what is going on. The reason that each of these articles can explain the entire situation is that nothing has really developed. Cashman is in limbo, just as he was on October 10th.

In turn, there surely will be at least one Cashman article in every New York and northern New Jersey sports section until the situation becomes resolved. The media, the fans, and the team seem to be in agreement on wanting Cashman back. The problem lies within the Tampa contingent, which the media and fans don’t particularly care for, but whom Steinbrenner still trusts.

From what I’ve read in the newspapers (I still look to them for factual information, but never more for opinions), the Yankees want to have a resolution early this week so that they can gear up for another tumultuous off-season. There has been a development over the past few days, however, that has me pondering new possibilities. This development is the job security of Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta.

Before I go into my bit about why I want DePodesta running the show in New York, I just want to make it clear that I realize this will never happen. If Cashman doesn’t come back, it will be because of his lack of true authority in the front office. Given autonomy over baseball decisions, Cashman would most likely re-up with the Yanks. So any GM brought in would be subject to second-guessing and back stabbing via Tampa. In order for DePodesta to be effective, he must have autonomy. This is why such a move would never be made.

With that out of the way, I think that DePodesta has done a fine job in LA, considering what he’s had to work with. That may not make a whole lot of sense, considering he was hired right before the 2004 season and essentially handed a division-winning team. And then in 2005, the team that he overhauled mid-season and reconstructed in the off-season stumbled to finish 20 games under .500.

Obviously, my admiration for DePodesta stems from my love of Moneyball, in which DePodesta is characterized as a progressive thinker, refusing to accept age-old notions of how to build a ball club. If the Dodgers fire him this off-season, he will not have been granted ample opportunity to build a ball club. Rather, he will have been cut off before his vision could be properly manifested.

One glance at the ’05 Dodgers roster reveals two pertinent facts: 1) they were riddled by injuries and 2) these aren’t “Moneyball” guys. In fact, there’s a guy who had 319 at bats who was expelled from the A’s under Beane and DePodesta because he didn’t fit the mold – Olmedo Saenz.

The only guys on the team who had OBPs over .350 were J.D. Drew (.412), whose season ended before the halfway mark when he was plunked in the wrist (though he avoided a knee injury), Milton Bradley (.350), ditto with the injuries, and Jeff Kent (.377), the only one on the team with more than 450 at bats.

Despite the lack of success in ’05, the Dodgers look pretty poised for 2006, though they’d be in a much better position if DePodesta sticks around throughout the off-season. Right off the bat, they’re getting J.D. Drew back, and since Bradley will most likely be shipped elsewhere, he’ll be in center field, a position that he purports is better for his chronically ailing knee.

Kent will be back at second, and although he’ll be 38 – his skills suffering another year of decline – his ability to get on base shouldn’t be much compromised. At the backstop, 22-year-old former Yankees prospect Dioner Navarro will be handling the duties, and will surely prove the Yanks idiots for dishing him, especially since a catcher is on their wish list. Navarro came up after the All-Star break last year and posted an impressive .273/.354/.375 in just 176 at bats. He has a propensity to take pitches, which is exactly what the system calls for.

There may be another “Moneyball” player in the mix now, as Jose Cruz was imported via waivers in August. True, he had been released by the Devils Rays and then the Red Sox in ’05, but he seems to fall under that “defective” players category that Moneyball covets. Not only did he draw 66 walks over 370 at bats, but he saw nearly 4 pitches per plate appearance, which is in the upper echelon. By the way, those 66 walks – more than any Dodgers player not named Jeff Kent.

That leaves left field, which more than likely will be patrolled by Jason Werth, who has drawn nicknames like “not werth a dollar,” and the like. He’s another guy who doesn’t hit for a high average, but will take a walk. Oh yeah, and his pitches seen per plate appearance in ’05 was a beefy 4.48, .41 points higher than Jason Giambi, who along with Barry Bonds is king of the category.

At shortstop, Cesar Izturis will be back from injuries that caused him to miss 60 games, though Oscar Robles proved an adequate replacement. Izturis is young still, and may be able to fit himself into the DePodesta system. That leaves just the corner positions. It will surprise the hell out of me if DePodesta doesn’t make a run at Bill Mueller, considering he doesn’t re-up with the Red Sox. And at first, well, Hee Sop Choi certainly isn’t the answer. But there may be no better solution out there, considering Paul Konerko doesn’t seem to have the Dodgers on his radar. Maybe a reunion with former A’s first basemen Erubiel Durazo is in the cards.

As far as pitching is concerned, the Dodgers are right in the middle of the league. Jeff Weaver will more than likely be back next season, and although he’s not exactly an ideal ace, he’s – how should I describe him? – half decent. Derek Lowe is coming off a pretty good season, Odalis Perez had an uncharacteristically bad one at Dodger Stadium, and Brad Penny is always a threat. Edwin Jackson, a 21-year-old right hander who spend much of the year in Las Vegas, could be ready to debut in the rotation.

In the old bullpen, Eric Gagne will return, and he might actually have help this time. Duaner Sanchez had a good year at 25 years of age, and former Yankees prospect Yhency Brazoban showed flashes.

So it becomes clear that it would be foolish to relieve DePodesta of his duties, considering this is the year it may all come together. The pieces are in place, so why not let the guy keep his job and wait for the results to determine his fate? Hey, it worked in Oakland, although the A’s always had a few top tier pitchers to go along with the Moneyball offensive system.

Just remember, Billy Beane inherited the A’s in 1997, and didn’t make the playoffs until 2000. In his first season, 1997, the A’s actually finished worse than they had the previous year. Similarly, the Dodgers finished worse in 2005 than 2004, after DePodesta’s first off-season. Yes, DePodesta was dismantling a team that had been generally succeeding, but his view is that such success is ephemeral, and that once his team is assembled, perpetual success may be achieved.