Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Get your story straight

I don't mean for this blog to be so reactionary. In fact, I'm working on a piece on statistical analysis right now, but it's taking forever because statistics involves a lot of math that makes my head hurt. If I don't understand it, I certainly can't explain it.

All that being said, this is exactly the type of quote that will get a reaction out of me, courtesy of Mr. Peter Abraham's usually excellent blog:
What a travesty. Edwar Ramirez and Brian Bruney – the darlings of the stat geeks – walk four and give up two hits to lose the lead in one inning. Well, they were each released before. They won’t be surprised when it happens again after the season. The Yankees would be crazy to put either of them on the postseason roster.
I pick on Pete a lot, because as good as his site is for information, he has the absolutely infuriating habit of dropping throwaway lines like this into his posts. This is, once again, a classic anti-statistics straw man.

Brian Bruney is not a stat geek darling. He walks way, way too many people and then gets hit hard. His best attribute, his velocity, is muted by the fact that he doesn't get any results. Absolutely no right-minded objective analyst will tell you that Brian Bruney is an underrated, misvalued diamond in the rough. He isn't.

Edwar Ramirez is exactly like Bruney, in an exactly opposite kind of way. He strikes a lot of guys out, but he walks too many guys and he then proceeds to get hit hard. Unlike Bruney, Edwar has no fastball to speak of, but possesses a devastating change-up. Abraham is probably hammering the stat geeks over Edwar because we were calling for his promotion on the basis of his minor league numbers. Edwar had proven that he could dominate the minors. At that point, you see if he can contribute in the majors. So far, he has not. I still like Edwar, but he has obvious flaws in his game. Naturally, Abraham's solution is to cut bait. What happened to player development?

Stat geeks wanted to see Edwar (and Chris Britton) precisely because the Yank's current pen (including Bruney) was so ineffective. Edwar isn't being asked to be Mariano Rivera or even Luis Vizcaino. He's being asked to be the 5th or 6th option in the pen. If he turns out to be great, then you win. If he turns out to be a turkey, there are a million and one guys out there who can be a bullpen's 5th option.

Here's the thing: both of these guys cost absolutely nothing for the Yankees to acquire. Edwar was a guy picked up to fill out a minor league roster. Bruney was released by Arizona and the Yanks picked him up because he throws really hard. Anything they provide is gravy. Both have pitched well at times. Both have sucked a lot at times. But no statistical analyst would be under the illusion that they've been effective. They haven't.


E. W. Lynch said...

I like Edwar. I hope he gets better.

John Lynch said...

Yeah, me too. He's got a crazy strike out rate, even in the majors, so something is right.