"The Definition of Insanity" -- The 2019-20 Hot Stove Off-Season Thread

grabarkewitz

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Sounds about right. The article doesn’t address trades and that’s where Friedman may be aggressive
Pomeranz looks to be a guy who might parlay a few months of strong bullpen work into something like a three year deal. I still don't buy the numbers they are throwing out there. I gotta think Wheeler is going to get overpaid on potential. I also think that Snidely and his puppets will overpay for Cole because they will bid against themselves because you know Boras is going to toss the Dodgers name about. I kind of think the contract for Rendon is light, too. On Rendon, it all depends on who is right. Those who say he wants a short term deal to walk away with something like four years and an AAV over $40MM. To be honest, I think that is the way he goes.

I have this theory that if the Nationals strike out on Strasburg and Rendon, they will give an extra year than the market on Donaldson and either Wheeler or Bumgarner. Gotta remember, the Nats love to defer money, so they have no problem going higher than the market. I just think that Strasburg will be ready to go home and I am sure Preller is going to toss out another monster contract because those have worked out so well for him. I just have this feeling that teams are shy about dealing with the Dodgers because save Alvarez, they seem to win each deal and I am thinking dealing with Friedman is where a lot of GM's get their ass shown. Think back to this last trade deadline, it would seem that the other GM's are going to ask for the moon and not come off of that demand. That is kind of why I see Friedman spending big on a free agent. Granted, I think he will make a big deal but it will be costly - figure Seager and Pederson are moved and at least one top five prospect gets traded, probably Ruiz, but I also think that they might entertain moving May if the return is right.

I still hope they take a strong run at Hudson (and/or Betances) and I am getting better with one of Taylor or Kike wearing a new jersy in '20. I am not happy about it, but I get the economics of the game and I get Friedman is not going to overpay for bench talent no matter how valuable or versatile they are. I just don't see Hill or Ryu coming back to LA in '20. I would bet they would be more interested in Cole Hamels because of relative health and less money being spent. As for Lindor, I still think this is the media's wet dream because I believe that the Indians can wait until the deadline to deal Lindor and their demands could be ridiculous - Seager, Lux and May seems like the jump off point and I don't think Friedman goes there. He may deal Seager but I think he will be dealt for either a huge package of prospects he can spin to another team or for another starter.

My Plan A, sign Rendon, trade Seager, Ruiz, Stripling and Uceta to the Mets for Syndegaard and sign two of Betances, Pomeranz and Hudson, hoping this will solve our bullpen worries. Trade Pederson to an AL team for a couple top twenty prospects (or Clint Frazier) and Taylor for one top twenty prospect. Find a backup for Smith who is not Austin Barnes and sign a fourth outfielder type like Dickerson or Pence just in case Pollock breaks an eyelash. Honestly, I don't have a Plan B and my Plan A is a massive pipe dream, but it is November and that is all we got are pipe dreams.
 
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Okay, but agreeing to bring him in isn't the same as Zaidi going after him. The A's connection was the key not any brilliance from AF.
I agree BC. Zaidi knew him well from his Oakland days. I am not sure what kind of an evaluator Friedman is. Rendon would be an amazing get but the Dodgers are a fraud when it comes to big game hunting. They don't have the Balls! An American of Mexican descent, playing in LA in front of that crowd? That would be Box Office!!! Other than some injuries there is zero risk in Rendon. He is the elite 3rd Baseman in all of Baseball and in his Prime and Clutch as Hell.
 

BCmaiden

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I didn't mean to sound like I think Friedman is brilliant. I just felt that he has had better luck in certain areas.
I get that but to me Friedman's forte is trading. I believe Zaidi was responsible for almost all the dozens of minor/major league transactions we saw each year. We saw very few this year from the Dodgers while Zaidi was going nuts in SF. Don't forget that Zaidi comes from the Billy Beane factory which specializes in minor league talent knowledge & who love to acquire as many as possible.
 

NewportDodger

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What’s a bummer is that I am seeing a lot of articles that say the Dodgers aren’t going to do much of anything this Winter.
 
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Steve Garvey is up for Hall of Fame vote via the "Modern Era Committee". You don't hear Ron Cey considered as a HOF candidate, but he outpaced Garvey in career WAR 53.8 to 38.1, quite a margin. Cey would have been a perennial Gold Glove winner except he played at the same time as Mike Schmidt. Garvey obviously had a better PR manager and was well liked by the press.
 

beefchopper

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The outsider’s advantage: Freedom to ditch the old ways and embrace new solutions for a sport’s problems
By Jayson Jenks
One day in the early 1940s, a newspaper story caught the eye of a curious 20-something named Allan Roth. Roth worked for a Montreal tie-and-belt manufacturer, but in his free time he loved baseball, statistics and the cold, unbiased facts they revealed. So when he read that a major-league manager had benched one of his left-handed hitters against a left-handed pitcher— an accepted practice in baseball — he wanted to know more.
Roth dug up the player’s splits, and what he discovered surprised him: The player actually performed better against lefties than righties, so not only should his manager not have benched him that day, he should never bench him against lefties.

The reason Roth found the answer was because he had the curiosity to ask the question. And the reason he asked the question in the first place was because he was unburdened by baseball’s conventions. In other words, Roth was an outsider, and that was an advantage.

In David Epstein’s new book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World,” he lays out what he calls “the outsider’s advantage” — the idea that people from outside traditional systems often find creative, innovative solutions.

There are reasons for that. Outsiders see problems differently. They aren’t limited by rigid training or the way things have always been done. Driven by curiosity, they are free to explore ideas with an open mind, to dissect old issues in new ways. Their input and insight can be invaluable, and yet they are often viewed with skepticism, if not dismissed entirely by those on the inside. This happens time and again, not just in sports but in any workplace or field of interest. The gatekeepers determine who gets access, and the people who challenge conventional thinking are usually left on the outside, peeking in through little holes in the walls.

In the world of sports, there is no more influential outsider than Bill James, the father of analytics who revolutionized baseball. In the 1970s, James worked as an English teacher and at a food-packing plant in Kansas. But he loved baseball, and in his free time, he took long-held assumptions about the game, then dug until he resurfaced with objective, sometimes shocking answers.

In 1977, he printed his first “Baseball Abstract.” In 1981, he was profiled in Sports Illustrated — but only after the magazine held the story for a year because editors were skeptical of James and his ideas. And in 2002 the Red Sox hired him as an adviser, a position from which he recently retired with four World Series rings.

“There’s no question that being an outsider was crucial to my career,” James wrote in an email. “If you work inside the system, you have mentors, you have teachers, and you’re taught how to think about the game. If some of it is wrong, you’ll never see from the inside. You can only see it from the outside.”

James may be the most celebrated example, but he once called Allan Roth, the first full-time statistician hired by a baseball team, “the guy who began it all.” In 1941, Roth convinced Montreal Canadiens coach Dick Irvin to let him chart his team’s home games. But Roth liked baseball more than hockey, and he thought the numbers-rich sport gave him a better chance to make a difference. So in 1944, he pitched a new kind of job to the one person on the inside who seemed progressive enough to listen:
Branch Rickey.

There was no one in baseball like Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He loved, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully wrote in 1992 in the New York Times, to “muse over probabilities and possibilities.” Reporters and peers often labeled Rickey a genius, and he was, but his real genius lay in his willingness to explore wild frontiers, to embrace new and sometimes crazy ideas.

“Rickey is a peculiar fellow,” a reporter wrote in 1914, “but that’s probably the most important trait on his road to success.”

Among his crazier ideas, he believed it was important to teach players how to slide, so he talked of building a bowling alley for them to slide down. But it was his willingness to be mocked and ridiculed that led Rickey to his more practical (and successful) innovations.

Bothered by the number of rain delays one season, Rickey experimented with a new “scientific soil powder” that was supposed to quickly dry infield dirt. He believed statistics measuring errors and RBIs were flawed, so he devised his own mathematical model to evaluate players, a primitive step toward analytics. At times, he was mocked as a “theorist,” and while he could be hyper-sensitive and combative with critics, he retained the confidence to plow on, a trait that led him to sign Jackie Robinson and punch through baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

“The words ‘genius’ and ‘great’ are thrown around loosely in these pages,” wrote Larry Merchant, the future boxing commentator, in the Philadelphia Daily News. “Branch Rickey was the real thing. He was a genius because in a highly competitive milieu he was 360 feet ahead of everybody because he had a creative mind. He was great because he had the courage of his innovations.”

In the 1920s, Rickey was in charge of the St. Louis Cardinals. He knew he couldn’t compete for players with the bulging wallets of big-market clubs in New York and Chicago. So he bought up minor-league teams, affiliated them with the Cardinals and created a pipeline for young, cheap talent that powered the Cardinals to three World Series titles between 1926 and 1934.

Just like that, he had invented the farm system — an innovation that changed baseball forever.

“I doubt there is a smarter man in baseball than Branch Rickey,” Billy Evans, the general manager of the Cleveland Indians, said in 1934. “He is the Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor Watson of the baseball fraternity.”

Roth knew all about Rickey’s reputation. He also knew it was one thing to be an outsider with an interesting idea and another thing to find an insider to take that idea seriously.

In the spring of 1944, he traveled more than 300 miles from Montreal to Bear Mountain, N.Y., where the Dodgers were holding spring training. For weeks Roth hung around with one objective: to convince Rickey that his statistical analysis could help the Dodgers. Roth finally met with Rickey and his wife in the dining room of the Bear Mountain Inn, overlooking the Hudson River. It was a semi-disaster. Rickey was constantly interrupted by reporters, coaches and players, all demanding his attention.

“I saw that I was talking to myself,” Roth recalled. “I wasn’t getting to first base.”

Over coffee and dessert, a frustrated Roth bluntly told Rickey he wasn’t giving him a “fair hearing.” “What do you want?” Rickey asked.
“Ten minutes of your undivided attention, sir.”

Rickey agreed. He was intrigued enough that he asked Roth to put his ideas on paper. Roth went back to his room and, on hotel stationary that night, wrote up a four-page proposal. He said he wanted to track and hunt for tendencies: How did batter X perform against lefties and righties? How did pitcher Y perform at night or during the day?

According to an article by Andy McCue in the Baseball Research Journal, Rickey agreed to meet with Roth again. He still wasn’t sold. Then he asked Roth for his views on RBIs. Roth told him he didn’t think they were revealing unless they were “correlated with the chances to drive them in.”
Roth got the job.
 

beefchopper

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continued:

Because of immigration issues, Roth didn’t officially join the Dodgers until 1947. During games, he sat behind home plate and tracked the type, location and call of every single pitch in every single game. When the season ended, Roth, a self-described workaholic, would compile a master book with all the secret truths the data revealed. Then he would present that information to Rickey and the rest of the Dodgers’ brain trust.
It may not seem like much today, but at the time, it was radical. No one had attempted anything like it before.

In Roth, Rickey had found, in the words of Scully, his “baseball soul mate.” Together they came up with “isolated power,” a stat to measure how often a player hits for extra bases. They were among the first to track saves, which would not become an official stat until 1969, and on-base percentage, which wouldn’t become official until 1984. Together, they devised an advanced player rating system based on on-base percentage, isolated power and “clutch” hitting ability — a rough precursor to WAR.

The Dodgers treated much of Roth’s work as proprietary, and his data spread throughout the organization.

“His compilations aid us in making decisions,” Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley once said. “Even in making trades.” Indeed, in 1947, Dodgers outfielder Dixie Walker was an All-Star for the fourth time in five seasons. But he was 36, and when Roth compiled his charts at the end of the season, he noticed that many of Walker’s hits were to the opposite field, a sign that his bat speed was declining. Always one to trade a player a year too early versus a year too late, Rickey dealt Walker to Pittsburgh for Billy Cox, a versatile infielder, and Preacher Roe, who made four straight All-Star games.

Two years later, Dick Young, the baseball writer for the New York Daily News, wrote about the Dodgers’ uptick in runs. He identified three people responsible for the surge: second baseman Jackie Robinson, manager Burt Shotton and Allan Roth.

According to Young, back in spring training, Shotton had thought of ways to improve his tepid offense. His roster was more or less set by then, so his only avenue for adjustment was his lineup. One night, Shotton was looking over Roth’s detailed notes when he noticed something: Robinson was not only the team’s most consistent hitter against both lefties and righties, he also hit almost 100 points higher with men on base than with the bases empty. “That was a strange discovery,” Young wrote, for it was a “common belief that Jackie ‘choked’ in the clutch. But Roth’s figures proved that this was untrue.”

Shotton moved Robinson from second in the lineup to fourth. Robinson went on to spark the Dodgers’ offensive turnaround, drive in 124 runs and win the MVP award.

Roth’s ideas and analysis were not always readily embraced. In his classic 1972 book, “The Boys of Summer,” Roger Kahn wrote that Charlie Dressen, the man who replaced Shotton as manager, “soared on intuition and probably feared that the figures might wither his expertise.”
Had Dressen listened to Roth, however, he might have avoided one of the most infamous moments in baseball history: Bobby Thomson’s game-winning home run off Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca to clinch the 1951 National League pennant. Roth knew the Giants owned Branca that season: 10 of his 17 homers were against the Giants. But, as Roth said, according to the Chicago Tribune, “Charlie Dressen didn’t want to see (information on pitching matchups).”

In 1953, Preacher Roe, the pitcher the Dodgers had acquired in the Dixie Walker trade several years earlier, blamed Roth’s data for what he perceived as a down year. “I was told that I was throwing too many gopher balls on my first pitch,” Roe said. “I kept the ball away, and next thing I knew I was falling way behind the hitter. In 1951, my real good year, I gave up 34 home-run balls. … True enough, last season I cut down to 16, but here’s the wrinkle that isn’t so good. I won 22 games in ’51 and only 11 in ’52. That doesn’t add up.” (Never mind that in other statistical categories, the two seasons were similar for Roe).

Rickey also used Roth’s figures to his benefit in contract negotiations, and among Dodgers players Roth picked up a nickname: Hatchet Man.

From the beginning, Roth was adamant about one thing: He did not want to simply be a team’s “bookkeeper.” He wanted people to see him as a “baseball man,” someone who understood and trafficked in knowledge of the game. In other words, he wanted people to treat him with the same respect as an insider.

He found a perfect match when the Dodgers hired Walter Alston as manager in 1954. Roth prepared lengthy breakdowns for Alston, who then used that information to make up his lineup. In spring training, Alston had Roth spend several hours with each pitcher going over the data from the previous season. Roth also compiled information on every team the Dodgers played.

In 1960, while with the team in Florida, Roth explained what he did and how the Dodgers used his information to find solutions, as Alston listened in. “For instance,” Roth said, “the records clearly indicate that (Don) Drysdale is a much better pitcher at night than during the day. … We get together and show him this and hope that by talking it out, someone can come up with an idea or answer. He knows it and the pitching coaches know it, but we still find that when we all get in one place and knock things like this around, sometimes somebody comes up with an idea that helps.”

Alston jumped in. “The main value is that it indicates something we might not think of,” he said. “Usually, we’ll take what Al finds on his statistics and go back to the pitching charts kept by the coaches and try to see if we can find any reasons.”

Roth devised a card system that provided Alston with info on the Dodgers and their opponents that day — another primitive step toward the detailed card systems employed today. Alston was known to examine the card to help him make decisions on pitching matchups and pinch-hitters. Alston, wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, believed in Roth’s data “as implicitly as a cost accountant.”
Under Alston, the Dodgers won four World Series.

Roth never wanted to overstep or take too much credit. The furthest he went was the time he told a reporter he “might have contributed” to the Dodgers’ success. Others were more direct.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle called him the Dodgers’ “miracle man.” Another reporter said Roth was as “important to the club as a 20-game winner.” And Scully, writing in the New York Times, said, “Each time he reached into his magical Mary Poppins bag, Allan emerged with the numbers that everybody from Red Barber to Walter Alston to Branch Rickey needed.”

But in many ways, Roth was too far ahead of his time to effect sweeping change, and over time, his role with the Dodgers diminished. Despite his public praise for Roth’s work, O’Malley, the team’s owner, pushed Roth into a glorified PR job after Rickey left to run the Pirates. That was never what Roth wanted. He wanted to be on the inside, to make a real difference. For a while, that’s exactly what he did.

It would be a long time before baseball would catch up with Allan Roth.
 
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