Saturday, February 05, 2005

Baseball Prospectus Pizza Feed

After delaying for no reason, I finally thought I'd let you all know how the Baseball Prospectus pizza feed went last Wednesday in Walnut Creek.

It went pretty well for me, although I got rumblings from a couple different people saying they thought the previous incarnations were better. Having come in with no expectations, I think I was a little better off. Of the three staff members that came from BP, James Click was doing the majority of the talking. They simply fielded questions about baseball in general, and BP-related topics, such as the new Baseball Prospectus 2005 book (coming out on February 22nd), and the 2005 PECOTA projections. If you do not know what PECOTA is, it is a tool used to project a players performance, based on historical data such as the players past performance, his age, other players he is similar to, park-related data...there is more, but I'm too lazy to type it all out.

They answered questions as honestly as they could (with help from Tom Gorman of Fogball), although I noticed some resistance to idle speculation, and secret-revealing questions about PECOTA. Most of the conversation revolved around PECOTA (created by BP's Nate Silver), but understandably, the staff would only talk about the projections themselves, and not the inner workings of PECOTA (such as the mathmatic formulas involved). James Click also cautioned against using PECOTA to predict all players' stats -- PECOTA is useful for players in and around the middle of the pack performance-wise (which most players are), but doesn't do nearly as good of a job with extreme say, Neifi Perez and Barry Bonds.

Other topics of discussion were Zack Greinke (21 year old phenom pitcher of the Kansas City Royals), Billy Beane and the Oakland A's, Barry Bonds and steroids, Sammy Sosa, Paul DePodesta and the Dodgers, and a few other miscellaneous topics. Yours truly probably spoke more than his fair share (while probably eating more than my fair share), but my opinions were respected, and my questions were answered to the best of their ability. I am satisfied.

Another thing that came out of that will result in a few new links. The first two are new Giants links, The New Giant Thrill and Steve Shelby's SF Giants News Diary. Josh helms The New Giant Thrill, and is an impassioned writer. Check out his article on Bonds' alleged steroid use -- you may find yourself adjusting your opinion on the subject a bit afterwards. Steve provides an invaluable service with his news diary -- it's a one-stop shop for Giants news, and I think you'll find yourself referring to it frequently, as Steve does a great job putting Giants-related news on one site.

Also, I've acquired another Cleveland Indians blog. It's called Tribe Scribe, and a smart gentleman by the cool name of Mitchell Below runs it. I spoke with Mitchell at length about a few things, and I'll vouch for his baseball knowledge (yeah, and I know how much you trust my opinions, too). On the first page of his blog he details an online chat with Indian's GM Mark Shapiro, where Mitchell was able to get some pointed questions answered about the Tribe. Check it out, dude.


Kevin said...

Will you detail what was said about Greinke?

Daniel said...

The conversation started when a gentleman in the back asked James Click which he would pick, if given a choice of Zack Greinke and Joe Mauer. Click eventually said Mauer, but only if he stayed at catcher -- if he moved to outfield or 1st base, then he'd give Greinke the nod as having more overall value. Obviously Click is tying in a substantial amount of Mauer's value into his current position.

From there, a few comments were made about the possibility of injury lowering the value of pitchers, especially ones Greinke's age. Myself and another gentleman both made comments on Grienke's pitching maturity and mechanics, both of which lend itself to a higher possibility of Greinke avoiding injury. I also added the Royals ultra-careful approach to handling Zack, and that although the Royals organizational history points to pitching injuries in recent years, it shouldn't be applied in Zack's case because: a) the Royals know what they could have in Grienke, and b) the hiring of Guy Hansen and the exit of John Cumberland.

From there the conversation drifted onto Greinke himself for a bit, with the gentleman who posed the original question mentioning the possibility that Zack would start throwing knuckleballs. I told him that while possible, I doubted that the organization would want him to do much more than toy with a knuckleball, at least at this stage of his career. I did tell him, however, that I wouldn't put it past Zack to throw a knuckleball or two in a live game next year.

That was about it.