Reds Trade Casey

Hallelujah! My beloved Cincinnati Reds have traded Sean Casey to his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, for a quality left-handed starter in Dave Williams.

As much as I like Sean, he was barely an average 1B on both sides of the ball, and certainly not worth what the Reds were paying him to be “The Mayor”. Sean’s a great guy and a clubhouse leader, but the Reds had four MLB-caliber outfielders and only three positions to fill. Moving Casey allows the Reds to install Adam Dunn at 1B, which should be a good move—he’s good around the bag, is 6’6″, and mashes like nobody’s business.

Good move by the Reds.

Reds DFA Graves

Bye bye, Danny. You’ve been … DFA’d.

Funny thing is, when the Reds cut bait with D’Angelo Jimenez last week, the guy most featured in an interview with the Enquirer? Danny Graves.

I love that Carl Lindner has gotten the concept of sunk costs. At this point, there’s really only two Reds that could credibly never see this axe: Junior Griffey and Sean Casey, the former because he’s a Hall of Fame talent and the latter because he’s such a fan favorite. Thankfully, Adam Dunn won’t see this treatment because he’s wailing away at every at-bat, as his homer and strikeout totals show.

Kudos to you, Carl. Next year, though, don’t let your GM sign fly-ball pitchers in a ballpark that pads homer stats but depresses run scoring on balls that don’t leave the ballpark, eh?

A Will Carroll Saturday

I’ve spent the last couple of days ripping through Will Carroll’s two most influential books to date: Saving the Pitcher and The Juice.

Saving the Pitcher The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems

StP was a good overview of how pitching injuries could be minimized—he argues eliminated—by implementing proper techniques. It’s a great starter book if you’ve got a kid who pitches or wants to pitch, if you’re a coach on the youth or high school levels, or if you’re a young pitcher yourself. If you’re a fan as I am, it can be a bit slow to slog through, because we’re not worried so much about the ideas to be applied as we are the things to look for in pitchers that we watch. Carroll notes that it’s difficult to undertake the task of writing about this topic, because it’s something that clearly lends itself to video. I would have strongly pushed for a CD-ROM to accompany this book; future work by Carroll on this subject fairly well demands it.

The Juice was interesting because it takes a relatively dispassionate view of performance-enhanced drugs (PEDs): their effects, side-effects, composition, production, use, and abuse. Before I say this, let me be clear that this is not Carroll’s position—but I came away with the feeling that it’s fruitless to attempt to ban performance enhancing drugs, and that it makes far more sense to legalize and stringently monitor them. That’s bound to be a damn unpopular conclusion to draw, but I’d ask that you read the book from cover to cover before you fly off the handle with a comment.

Just the Stats, Ma’am

Back in March, I predicted that the Yankees would miss the playoffs. This surprised many on the Rumor Forum. I didn’t expect what’s happened, though.

Is history against the Yankees? Absolutely. They’re 11-18: from 1930-1999 [excepting 1981 and 1994, the strike years], teams starting 12-18 made the playoffs 1.8% of the time; teams starting 11-19 made it 1.5% of the time.

I don’t bet on sports, but if I did …

A Performance Analysis Approach to the Steroids Question

Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus has devised a thought experiment to try and see if there’s a discernible effect from a population of baseball players taking steroids. His result: nothing that’s notable, really.

If you’ve never taken a statistics course in your life, you’ll want to know this: the standard deviation is the measure of how far away from the average, on average, the data lies. Like, we know that the average U.S. male is five-foot-nine; a standard deviation of this value [probably three inches] would tell you, on average, how far a random person is likely to vary from that value. You can think of it as the fudge factor, the same kind of stuff you see in polling [52% ± 3%], if you want. [It’s not really the same thing, but it’s close enough for my concerns.]

And people wonder why I really don’t get all that excited about the whole performance-enhancing-drugs-in-baseball thing; honestly, it’s not much different than scuffing a ball or corking a bat. Of course, it’s a lot more expensive and potentially a lot riskier to your health, but the net effect just isn’t that big.

Selig: No Asterisks Needed

According to Commissioner Bud Selig, no asterisks will be placed on records of players found to have used steroids in the time before baseball began testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

“That would be unfair to do that,” Selig said before a game between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels. “In fairness to those players, no one has been convicted of anything. And we can’t turn history back. My job is to protect the integrity of the game. Each era, each decade has had situations where people said there were unfair advantages.”

This is the right answer, no matter how much the nattering nabobs of negativity might disagree.