The People in my Neighborhood

I’m not writing jack today, but these guys are:

  • In what constitutes my greatest oversight in quite a while, I forgot to include Wezen-Ball in the first two installments of the ShysterBlog neighborhood. Lar does good work over there, uncovering many a priceless historical gem such as prospect previews from a couple of dozen years ago and historical analysis of all stripes. His latest offerings are a career retrospective of Jeff Kent and a look at a 1993 Street and Smith’s article which purported to list the best players to ever wear each uniform number, which Lar has taken the liberty of updating. But I won’t give him Jeter of Charlie Gerhinger at #2. That’s just crazy talk.
  • tHeMARksMiTh recalls the Miracle Braves of 1914 and the story of Elaine Weddington. Weddington was the first black female — and maybe the first female, I’m not sure — to reach the position of assistant GM with a Major League Baseball team. That’s awesome, but for totally personal reasons I’m much more inspired by the fact that she had the guts to do something with her law degree other than go to work for some giant soul-sucking firm.
  • Ron Rollins — the bard of Bournemouth — has a couple of cool videos, a fun Ichiro story, and the latest international baseball ephemera over at Baseball Over Here.
  • Jason at IIATMS found a pretty neat post about cheap cologne and implores you to root for the laundry.
  • Jorge Says No! is revisiting the Joba debate and comes down on the side of the bullpen. I disagree with him about that — 200 IP of a really good pitcher > 70 IP of a really good pitcher, and that’s before you factor in the dropoff you’ll get in the form of whoever takes his place — but I’m not the sort of guy who only reads that with which he agrees, and Josh usually hits the mark, so we’ll let it slide. This time.
  • Fack Youk is doing something interesting: counting down the days until Spring Training starts via uniform numbers. Today is 17, so FY’s new Mets blogger Matt Laudato has some stuff to say about Keith Hernandez. Before that was Scott Brosius (18), Aaron Boone and Dave Righetti (19), and Jorge Posada and Kevin Youkilis (20). Check back each day. In the meantime, let’s guess who they’ll use for the remaining numbers.
  • Finally, The Common Man went to TwinsFest. What’s the deal with mid-word capitalization, anyway? Don’t you find it annoying? ShysterBall would really like to know!
  • By all means, take a stroll around the neighborhood. You’ll be glad you did.

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    1. themarksmith said...

      In regard to the Joba debate, you can’t just say he’ll pitch 200 innings. That’s the only reason we have this debate—there are serious doubts about him being able to do so. He’s only thrown 112.1 IP in his most extensive big-league season, so even if they try to throw him out there, they really shouldn’t push him much past 150-160 innings. I agree he’s more valuable as a starter, but if he can’t do it, then you’re risking his career of helping you at all. However, if he’s moved back to the bullpen, they should try to get more around 100-120 innings from him there. None of this only one inning thing. Make him pitch 100+ innings in high-leverage situations.

      Yes, 150 IP > 100 IP, but 16 seasons as a Rivera > 10 injury-plagued ones. Granted, he may be able to withstand the innings this year, but if he doesn’t, I’m not sure they should keep pushing the starting gig. Who knows.

    2. Andy L said...

      I’ll have a law degree at the end of the year.  Craig, what kind of position do you think I could reasonably apply for with a JD with the Milwaukee Brewers?

    3. Bill said...

      I was mentioned in a post linked to in this post. I think that means I’m famous now.

      Re. the Joba debate (to which, I should point out, the above link is FUBARed): I don’t see any profit in arguing he should take a role we KNOW he’s not going to take—that is, the mythical uberreliever. Six pitchers since 2000 have topped 100 innings without starting a game, only one since 2004, and none of the six threw more than 107 innings. (The Yankee that did it, Proctor, actually faced more batters in low-leverage situations than high-leverage ones).

      It’s not going to happen. And we can certainly question whether it *should* happen with Joba—pitchers put more effort per pitch in relief appearances than in starts, so query whether 120 relief innings is really safer or easier on him than 150-200 starters’ innings anyway.

      But the realistic choice (if he stays healthy) is between 170-180 innings of him as a starter, in situations of variable leverage (and putting him on the path toward being a 200-230-inning starter one or two years down the road), or 70-90 innings, almost all of them the 8th inning, when the score is somewhere between tied and Yanks by 3 (and pretty much dooming him to a career of closing).

      A great reliever used in that way is worth about 3 wins a year, whereas a great starter can be worth upwards of 7. If you think there’s more than about a 50% chance he stays healthy and becomes that dominant starter, I think it’s more than worth the risk.

    4. lar said...

      Thanks for doing this, Craig. I don’t think I merit being called the “greatest oversight in quite a while,” but I appreciate your support nonetheless.

      I really enjoyed the story the Common Man told about TwinsFest and Bert Blyleven. I can picture the old lady telling everyone she meets about that phone call she had with Bert.

      And as far as Joba goes, i don’t think everyone will ever be happy with him unless he turns into either Mariano Rivera or Whitey Ford. Anything in between, and people are going to say, “well, he could’ve been…” The biggest problem I see with his situation is that the Yankees clearly have the greatest closer of all time, who was bred in-house and who never really flirted with being a starter. Yankee fans have seen what success in grooming a closer can do, and they’re afraid to lose that. But I suspect the dozens of others of teams over the years who have tried to make another Mo Rivera are probably better examples to heed than the Greatest Closer of All-Time.

      I can understand the reluctance though…

    5. themarksmith said...


      You make some nice points. However, just because it hasn’t been done recently, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Also, if he knows he’ll be used more, he doesn’t have to put as much into each pitch as he would if he only pitched one inning. The thing is, would the Yankees try to go against the grain to do it (because you’re right—it hasn’t happened a lot recently)?

      Also looking at WPA, Rivera had a 4.47, which made him the 5th most valuable pitcher in the majors.

      Either way, the Yankees have a special pitcher, but once they make their choice, they’ll be heavily criticized/slightly praised based on what happens. If he gets hurt relieving, people will say the Yankees should have started him. If he gets hurt starting, people will say they should have used him in relief. Isn’t hindsight bias a wonderful thing?

    6. Bill said...

      marksmith, you make some good points too. And you’re certainly right about the last part—there’s little to gain and a lot to lose for the Yankees either way, in terms of public perception. And in that sense the safest route is probably making him a reliever; Papelbon may well have become a great starter, in which case the Red Sox’s decision was a disastrously poor one, but we’ll never know, and it just LOOKS good because he became such a great reliever, which is always more likely.

      But if he’s only being used in high-leverage situations, don’t you WANT him to put all his effort into each pitch? If he looks at every appearance like the first couple innings of a start, he’ll be less effective than he would in a one-inning, give-everything-you-have-and-get-out role, and probably less effective than a lot of *other* relief pitchers would be if they were putting maximum effort in. Might be better off just using Ramirez in those spots. It seems to me that a big part of the benefit to the Yankees in making him a reliever would be letting him come in at 98 on every pitch, and if you’re going to take that away, you might as well let him start.

      I was looking at fangraphs’ pitcher win values, not WPA, which is a little more kind to closers.

    7. Chris Simonds said...

      I think mid-word capitalization started with IT guys, BSD Unix guys in particular. Instead of naming files and directories with underscores (because you can’t use spaces or most punctuation marks at the core level of an operating system) i.e. “baseball_files” – BSD developed the convention “BaseballFiles”. A lot of tech companies, and companies that market tech companies, picked up on the convention as a way to look tech savvy and hip. It’s BullShit – or bull_#### – but as an IT guy I’ve grown immune to be offended by it. Sorry to abandon the intense thread about pitching stats and Joba, but hey, somebody asked.

    8. themarksmith said...

      I realize what you were looking at. I don’t like win values, mainly because I don’t understand the math and concepts behind them (not that WPA is better), because I’m not sure how you quantify how many games you help win and have any accuracy whatsoever.

      As for the pitching effort, he throws probably 93-94 as a starter and 97-98 as a reliever. Can’t he just throw 95? If he’s doing that, he should be plenty effective. He pretty much did it on a small scale in 2007, but he came up too late in the season. 24 IP x 3 = 72. Add in 6 IP over every two months and he’s up to 90 IP for the season.

      I guess we’ll find out over the next 7-8 months.

    9. VanderBirch said...

      The problem with Joba is that he hasn’t been stretched out much over the past few seasons. He pitched 100 innings last year, so it would be pushing things for him to pitch more than around 140-150 innings without greatly increasing his injury risk.

      That of course causes major timing issues. If he starts from the beginning of the season he will either have to be limited to very short starts or he will run out of innings just as the season enters crunch time. If they plan to slowly stretch him out he will probably need to start in the pen and then how do you transition him to 7 inning outings?

      Its really tough, because a guy like Joba is so good that teams will ride them (ala Mark Prior) unless they have a very prudent manager or a GM who exercises a firm hand. I think with the signing of Pettite, the Yanks will probably take the easy option this year and just let Joba loose as the set-up man.

    10. Josh Levitt said...

      There is absolutely no guarantee that the Yankees will actually let Chamberlain pitch 200 IP in 2009. If he can hold up for that long, then he should be a very effective starter.

      But as far as 2009 goes, if the Yankees are going to keep the kid gloves on Chamberlain and restrict his innings and starts, then a logical choice to me is to keep him in the bullpen. This would give the Yankees a fantastic bullpen that they could use as a weapon and absolutely dominant teams.

      I know that the thought of moving Joba into the bullpen is one that has been beaten over the head time and time again, but there is some sense to be made in the argument. It may not be a popular idea, but the Yankees need to either commit fully to Chamberlain in the rotation (no limits) or put him in the bullpen in 2009 and give the Yankees one of the best bullpens in baseball.

      180-200 innings of Joba is ideal, but at this point, I’m skeptical to see if the Yankees can actually expect that from Chamberlain.

      Just a different way to look at things.

      It’s always fun to disagree with you though Craig smile.

      Hope you enjoyed the article. Have a great night everyone.

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