Hey Bill had two more interesting light bulbs this week. Just $3 per month for a historically-great baseball site.
1) James opined that it's NOT our place to ask "How good is this manager?" Rather it's our place to ask "What does this manager like to do?," meaning, does he shift more, does he yank pitchers quickly when they're struggling, does his use his AAA carousel a lot, does he like to use positive encouragement, is he flexible about young vs old players (all "YES" with Scott Servais).
2) James answered a question this way:
Regarding strikeouts, do the Major Leagues have a cultural blind spot with players who don't fit the bat speed is king model? There are a handful of players who seem to emphasize contact and batting average and maybe OBP over power: Ichiro, Hyun-Soo Kim, Nori Aoki. All imported from Asia, where the all power all the time mantra may not be as prevalent.
I've sometimes thought that MLB would be better off with more leagues outside its influence, if for no other reason than to develop techniques that have no traction in the MLB monoculture.
Asked by: jwilt
Yes, I agree with all of that. I have talked to our scouts about bat speed being overrated or over-valued, and the scouts do tend to agree that that is true, I think. I don't get people saying "that's not true"; I get people saying "That's right." You may notice that in our organization, we don't strike out a lot, relative to everybody else.
But the culture is what it is. Every town the size of Lawrence or smaller has a couple of ex-professional or ex-college baseball players who give hitting lessons to young athletes, train them, costs $40 an hour or something. Those people teach 12-year-olds what they were taught as 12-year-olds; bat speed, bat speed, you've got to impact the baseball. When you're drafting players, you're choosing from a pool of 200 college players, all of whom have bought into this maximum bat speed idea. To say that WE don't emphasize bat speed; it's a relative thing. We're drafting from the same pool that everybody else is drafting from. - James
We've talked many times about the "Moneyball" market inefficiency for players who can drag their bats through the zone -- like Nori Aoki can, and like Robinson Cano does against curve balls. Notice that the Mariners just zigged against our argumentational zag. How dare they.
It's interesting to notice too that Dae-Ho Lee is the rare Japanese player with excellent bat speed. Hm. :: taps chin :: Aoki was up for arbitration, right? Am not trying to dog the Mariners for picking Smith over Aoki; I just find it a little puzzling.
Of course, there's a possibility that Aoki was let go as part of a coherent plan. Naaaahhhhh.