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A weblog of baseball news and analysis

Thursday, March 03, 2005
Breakfast With Bill James. Part One. (The Baseball Analysts)

Breakfast With Bill James (Part Two).
RL: There you go. In the 1982 Baseball Abstract, you introduced the Defensive Spectrum, which I believe was one of your biggest contributions. How did you develop that and does it still hold true to today?

BJ: It still holds true. I use the Defensive Spectrum as an example to try to explain to somebody why the definition of sabermetrics proposed by the dictionary ("computerized study of baseball records") is totally wrong. The Defensive Spectrum doesn't have anything to do with numbers, doesn't have anything to do with computers, statistics or anything. It has to do with organizing concepts so that you can understand them.

The Defensive Spectrum is still tremendously useful to me. The Red Sox...we don't have a shortstop -- we're losing (Orlando) Cabrera -- so there's a debate in the organization. If we had no second baseman and could come up with a lefthanded-hitting second baseman and a righthanded-hitting second baseman that were pretty good, no one would worry too much about it. But shortstop is really hard to find guys who are good. If you wind up filling in someone at that position, you almost, by definition, wind up weak. If we needed to attune at first base, we'd be fine. We'd find a guy who could crush lefties and a lefty who was pretty good, and we'd be fine.

At shortstop, if you have to fill in, you're in trouble most of the time. The Defensive Spectrum is a necessary concept to explain why that is true because there is nobody drifting into the shortstop position because he failed [chuckling to himself] at somewhere else. Nobody! There are guys who are good and there are the guys who are not shortstops because they're not good.
(The Baseball Analysts)

Breakfast With Bill James (Part Three). (The Baseball Analysts)

An Interview with JP Ricciardi.
During this past off-season, free-agent salaries jumped significantly and unexpectedly. Was this a permanent change, or just a one-year blip? "I don’t know," said JP. "[What] you have to think about is, the Mets were under pressure to do something, and the Diamondbacks had money. The hardest thing to do is what we are doing in Toronto: we’re rebuilding and trying to be competitive at the same time. Fans don’t want to hear that, but it’s the reality of where we are.

"If the Diamondbacks don’t want to wait, and go and sign [Russ] Ortiz, etc. then good for them," said the GM. "But all credit to Paul Godfrey for saying, 'Let’s do it the right way.' I honestly believe we’re not that far away – when we turn the corner, we’re going to be good for a while, and I think we have a chance to be .500 this year. The way we’re doing it takes time, but I think that in 2006 and 2007, the best baseball will be played here."
(Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Offseason Rankings: Part One. Ben looks back at the off-season and ranks the 30 teams based on what they did.
Talking about the Pirates is depressing, so I'll try to keep this one brief. Basically, they finally got rid of Jason Kendall, but didn't even get rid of his whole contract, and they replaced him with the ancient Benito Santiago. In the Kendall deal, they picked up a mediocre starter (Mark Redman) and an old reliever (Arthur Rhodes), who they then flipped for an old, injury-prone outfielder who makes about $7 million and is basically an average player at his position (Matt Lawton).

So let me get this straight, the Pirates got rid of a player, who is actually good, because he makes too much money, and they ended up with three players who are each average at best and combine to make even more money (in 2005) than the guy they got rid of?
(The Hardball Times)

San Diego Padres Preview. "From being drafted 9th overall in 1998 through to a solid first full season in the big leagues in 2003, Sean Burroughs' career path was straight out of a textbook. In 2004 he hit a bump, a bump that cost him 40 points of slugging percentage. Call it the sophomore jinx, blame it on PETCO, whatever – at 24-years-old, it’s much too soon to write Sean off. In fact, he’s best candidate in the Padre lineup to have a breakout year." (Batter's Box Baseball Blog)

Several Red Sox Players Hit by Line Drives While Staring at Johnny Damon’s Wife.
"It’s become a little bit of a problem," said Terry Francona, while holding ice over his own swollen eye. (Francona said he injured the eye while walking into a door.) "We like having Michelle here, but the players have to learn to control themselves and concentrate." Kevin Millar agrees with Francona, but says it’s easier said than done. "I’ve been hit three times since Spring Training started," he said. "You try to stay focused on what you’re doing on the field, but then your eyes start to wander a little bit, and before you know it you're staring at her and saying, 'Oh, my G-,' and then boom! My knee is still pretty swollen."
(Call of the Green Monster)

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