Carl Sagan's Critical Thinking Class

=== M's Sign Rich Poythress ===

As served up at the Bakery.

Poythress reminds me of Frank Thomas, not that I think he's that caliber of prospect naturally, but in several other things:

  • Short to the ball
  • Long, flowing, level followthru, top hand off, like Hurt
  • Chest you could throw a high school dance on
  • Thick waist and caboose
  • Dunn-like projectable power
  • Right-handed (?!) TTO player
  • Scouts tended to underline Frank's negatives, too

It sounds like Poythress held out until they threw in the AA assignment.  In any case, he is champing at the bit to start as high as possible.  That is guts, baby, coming out of college and demanding the high minors right off.


=== Critical Thinking 101 ===

Right now we are talking about the upgrade that Jack Wilson gives us over Ronny Cedeno's horrific 2009.

Had Bill Bavasi made this trade, the point of reference would have been Jack Wilson vs an RLP , or, vs. a quality club-controls player ...

or, worst of all, the point of reference would have been the biggest overlooked bargain who had been recently looking for a job.    "Why'd we get Raul?  The Rangers just signed David Dellucci for $750,000!   He'll give them $7M worth of performance!  Why can't Bavasi do that like good GM's do?!"

Personally, I think that the CURRENT INTERNAL OPTIONS reference is -- more frequently -- the appropriate one.  But we never did that for Bill.   For Bill, his acquisitions were measured against IDEAL EXTERNAL OPTIONS, current and past.  Just saying.


Carl Sagan was accused (by Isaac Asimov, for example) of being the smartest person on the planet.  When Sagan taught Critical Thinking at Cornell, hundreds of students would interview for 20 spots.

Then Sagan would spend most of the class preaching about self-awareness -- of identifying our agendas and biases, and purging them from our thinking.  To Sagan, a cool-headed lack of preference was the key to analyzing another person's work intelligently.

Sagan did not believe that training in logic, or rhetorical technique, were the keys to Critical Thinking.  He thought that attitude was the key.

We all want Capt Jack to succeed, and we're all frustrated with Bavasi, but our analysis would be better if it were less preferential.


Wilson looks great compared to Ronny Cedeno's 170/218/297, but then so does Willie Bloomquist.  And every starting SS in baseball.   ...Willie is earning 4.6 runs per 27 outs.  Cedeno is at 1.6.   If we'd traded for Willie, would we all be sitting here carefully counting up the runs gained, and rejoicing in the brilliance?


Compared to a Bavasian RLP point-of-reference, Wilson is a useful, expensive short-term regular who harmonizes nicely with the club's chemistry.

I'd rather have had Scutaro or Brignac -- by a long ways.  But I'm excited about how FAST Zduriecik is restoring this 1952 Chevy.  

He is moving at breakneck speed.   In one trade, he has acquired TWO MORE regulars who might (feasibly) be part of his next pennantwinner.


=== Robert Manuel ===

Capt Jack got back something interesting for Wlad, which is unusual when you're talking about a young player who has been DFA'ed.   It is testimony to (a) the great job that Jack is doing, plus (b) a lot of interest in Wlad Balentien.   Baseball knows, as well as you do, that Wlad has a good shot to become Jose Guillen.

Robert Manuel doesn't have great stuff, but he has BOTH (a) a miniscule, 1+ BB rate, and (b) a miniscule, 0.5 homer rate.  (So he's not getting a 1+ BB rate by just giving in on 2-0.)

This makes him a Bob Tewksbury of the minor leagues.

Plenty of minors pitchers run a 1+ BB and an 0.5 homer rate -- check John Halama's 1997 and 1998, for example.

Still, the BB/HR accomplishments make Robert Manuel interesting -- it implies a possible AAAA-hopping weapon of "plus-plus command." 

This is pretty much the first move I'd call a hardcore-sabermetric move.

Two thumbs up,

Dr D




Since it's you, Doc:
Conversation with a friend:
Her: "You liked that Jorge Campillo guy's potential right?"
Me: "Yeah, before his arm got too damaged, I thought he was doing a fine job of proving a RH control freak with a ridiculously deceptive off-speed attack can still be a good ML pitcher even if he has a junk fastball."
Her: "Congrats, you just got him back as a bullpen arm.  Hello, Robert Manuel."
Getting the AA reliever of the year doesn't mean a whole lot in the scheme of things, but his last 2 seasons (2.5 if you take out a horrific start to 07 IIRC) are high quality stuff.  He didn't blink at AA or AAA, just kept killing long relief.
I think Wlad's gonna be a decent-to-good player on the cheap, but he wasn't gonna be ours.  We don't like him.  So getting a piece we will use - a guy who can come in after Bedard and get some quick 1-2-3 innings will be a good thing.
I hope. ;)


Can't believe I missed the Popeye comp.
Wonder if Manuel has a change-speed game, do you know?

MyOhMyMariners's picture

Change up is his best pitch.  Hurts to say, but he his closest comp is Silva of 3 years ago.  NO walks, lots of fly balls.


Carlos Silva had a good amount of ML value throughout his first six years. 

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

I mentioned before that much of my value in analysis for the Ms was due to NOT having the emotional attachment of fandom.  (and as I feel that dispassion wane, I understand the dangers).  Of course, this is why when I get a little giddy with slapping myself on the back for my insight, I always try to slap myself on the face, too.
Recently I noted the Ms are overloaded with catcher talent, making ANY catcher in the fold expendable, (cay Clement).
I mentioned recently that somewhere in the mix of Z trades, a bullpen arm would likely be coming.  (welcome aboard Robert Manuel).
I mentioned 3-4 years ago that Snell had the stuff to become the most dominant pitcher of the generation.  (before I knew anything about his depression issues).  I reached on that, but maintain that he's got the "stuff" to become a top 10 pitcher.  All he needs is a team where he can have FUN coming to the ballpark with.


Time for a note on the 3rd-round pick (after Ackley, Franklin, Baron and Poythress), who maybe will always be known as the other LH guy from UNC.
I wanted to highlight his stats, but I found video of he and Ackely that is pretty interesting (same game, same camera angle):
Seager is only 5-10, so he makes Ackely look big at 6-1.
Anyway, so far Seager has been getting hits like crazy in low-A ball in his first 10 games:
36 AB, 15 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 SB
Playing 3b at Clinton, but was drafted as a 2b and was said to be likely to stick there, which is his ideal spot given he's not expected to hit for much power. 


The Seager footage really does clarify what I thought was Seager's power problem in college.
Both Ackley and Seager have a lack of loading that can be worked on.  Ackley has the faster bat, but if you watch Seager's hands and shoulders, he doesn't load AT ALL.  He just brings the bat forward. 

No obliques, no hands, no shoulders.  His swing is anti-power.  If he has to do that because his bat can't catch up to fast pitching with slower wood bats, that's fine, he'll never have power.  but some hand-load and torque would do a lot to fix his punch-n-judy approach.

Now, I said the same thing about Mangini needing to fix his hip weight-shift in order to find some power, and he's either never done it or I was flat wrong about that being his issue.

But it does look to me like a correctable problem that's creating Seager's lack of power.  His body's not topped out - it's his pre-swing that's preventing him from accessing everything he has.

Lookin forward to seeing if he can find a little pop as he comes up through the system, or if Bloomquist is his upper range.

I think it's the former, which makes it fun. :)




My first concern in seeing a guy who goes to his "pepper" swing, on an 0-0 count, is I wonder if he doesn't believe that he belongs in the batter's box.
No idea whether this applies to Seager.  But I hate seeing a guy be that passive (in terms of what he's trying to accomplish) against pitchers who are a lot worse than the ones he'll be facing later on...
Agreed.  When you see a guy who isn't loading, it's intriguing to wonder what he'd do if he just put a little hip into it.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.