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Dave Cameron: O's rank as worst organization in baseball


Frobby

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You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Lucky Jim again.

I don't think SG has to defend Cameron's use of this here. I think he's just trying to point out that he thinks the ranking is right. But it seems others of us, while we may agree on Cameron's current ranking, we don't think he does enough to either (a) defend his current position or (b) do a good enough job showing the future value players with a range of outcomes.

I think this has more to do with Cameron not investing that much time into this project. In this case it doesn't make his current assessment of the Orioles wrong, but I do think it hurts his credibility with some people who might expect from his analysis.

Look, it's really easy to point out who the worst player on the court is during a pick up basketball game. Being right about it doesn't make the analysis valuable. I'm just talking about how this exercise could be valuable. I don't get paid to do this for a living, but I'd like to think that if I did, I'd take the time to treat it with the intellectual complexity that it merits.

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If it's enough to resurrect Matusz/Arrieta/Britton to form, how could you say it isn't? A lot of the stock that got the O's to 16 last year was those three guys. They weren't at the time considered flash in the pan guys.

Sounds like a discussion we should have in September. Let's see how these guys do in real live games first.

Growth isn't always linear. Cameron's analysis, IMO, is based more around the idea that it is. He looks at two year trends, and then makes an assessment.

Yeah but you should at least see some noticeable improvement. So far we haven't in any of the pitchers. And now Britton's hurt and we likely wont be able to see any improvement from him this year by July, if at all.

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Again, you're proving my point - we're not talking fan "excitement" here, we're talking about a quasi-empirical analysis that is supposed to establish a value for the organization. In other words, what are the resources (in talent, and in capital) possessed by the O's going forward?

Assigning a future value to the pitchers is only as "legitimate" as the certainty of your prediction. Britton, Matusz and Arrieta are the same exact commodity that they were last year - but the valuations have changed. Now, in the case of Britton, perhaps this valuation is substantive. In the case of Arrieta, Matusz (and others), less so. In other words, inherent in any player, but especially in young players and prospects, is a range of outcomes. So, just how much should we rely on one confluence of bad luck in assigning values? Let's note: any team would be "lucky" to get "two good pitchers" out of their prospects. The difference between the probability of this happening this year vis probability as of last year is...tough to decipher.

Let's also note another issue: the inconsistency of the underlying logic, and its failure to take into account the full spectrum of value moving forward. Cameron writes this about Jones:

So, Jones doesn't count as a significant asset in terms of our on-field value. But, in terms of organizational strength, Jones also isn't measured by his future trade value in this analysis either. In other words, two years of Jones - who possesses legitimate value on the field and likely significant value in trade - is essentially nulled-out. How does that work, exactly?

Not sure why you are being so complicated.

Player X has a big year one year and is awful the next. You aren't going to think he is going to be as good as you hoped.

That's just common sense.

Yea, there may be legit reasons for you to expect a break out or not but still, at the end of the day, its pretty obvious why you would be more down on the Orioles young pitchers heading into 2012 compared to 2011.

Don't let your distaste for Cameron make you ignore obvious things.

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Not sure why you are being so complicated.

Player X has a big year one year and is awful the next. You aren't going to think he is going to be as good as you hoped.

That's just common sense.

Yea, there may be legit reasons for you to expect a break out or not but still, at the end of the day, its pretty obvious why you would be more down on the Orioles young pitchers heading into 2012 compared to 2011.

Don't let your distaste for Cameron make you ignore obvious things.

SG, I'm not ignoring obvious things. I've explained my point pretty thoroughly here. Your post only reinforces my point.

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Dave Cameron's article confuses the difference between "the worst franchise" and "the franchise furthest from contention". While it is true that the Orioles have the steeper hill to climb to a playoff spot when compared to the Astros, the Astros are a weaker team walking a flatter incline. Baltimore has a terrible pitching staff, the worst in 2011 in fact; but the Astros were 2nd worst. Baltimore was league average in offense, but the Astros were third worst. As far as I can see, their starting roster is a shambles of AAAA depth, their farm system is a wasteland (moreso than Baltimore), and had the worst record in baseball in spite of an already weak division that just lost Fielder and Pujols to the AL.

Cameron was very kind to the Astros for their front office and speculated haphazardly about it's ability. Duquette got the same treatment in a negative way, citing the Korea situation and his absence from baseball. He neglected to cite the already in place reorganization of the scouting department, the strength and conditioning programs, the dedication to international development that was non-existent under prior management. Isn't that worth anything? What have the Astro's accomplished to right their Titanic of a franchise?

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SG, I'm not ignoring obvious things. I've explained my point pretty thoroughly here. Your post only reinforces my point.

The bottom line is this...It is obvious why anyone would be more down on the pitching now than they were entering 2011.

Asking what evidence he used is poor. You know what he used, so why be difficult about it?

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The bottom line is this...It is obvious why anyone would be more down on the pitching now than they were entering 2011.

Asking what evidence he used is poor. You know what he used, so why be difficult about it?

None of my reasoning in this thread has been "poor." Now, I may be making a mountain out of a molehill. I may be asking for more than time/metrics/whathaveyou actually allow. But it's not "poor." In the end, if a single data point - 2011 stats - results in wide bands of variation in year-to-year value, you have a problem. And these problems plague FG's analysis, and have for a while. In fact, in their 2011 Mariners review (where they downgraded them, but probably not enough) they concede that they relied on too small a sample regarding FO value. Probably true. But where they really erred was in agreeing with - and thus highly-valuing - an ideology. (Frankly, a mistake that all of us probably make, even on OH.) But they went and replicated that error this year:

Approximately three weeks after his ownership group’s purchase of the Astros became official, Jim Crane hired Jeff Luhnow from the St. Louis Cardinals to serve as his general manager. Though he went by different titles during his tenure with the Cardinals, Luhnow oversaw the club’s amateur draft from 2005 through 2011. Notably, Luhnow also graduated from Univeristy of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics and engineering and then received an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern — all of which suggests the pedigree of the league’s younger, analytical GMs. Among his first hires, Luhnow took Sig Mejdal — who famously plays the role of the Ubernerd in Sam Walker’s book Fantasyland — with him from the Cards, to serve as the club’s director of decision sciences, and then they brought in Mike Fast, one of the premier analysts in the online baseball community.

There’s more to running a baseball team than just hiring smart people, of course, but Luhnow has already had success in putting quality processes in place, and his track record in St. Louis suggests that he understands how to cultivate talent in an organization. Their front office is clearly making steps to change the way the Astros have been managed, and they understand the task ahead of them. That they brought in someone with a long range vision and gave the staff the authority to carry out a necessary rebuilding is a good sign in and of itself, and when you add in Luhnow’s success in St. Louis, it’s easy to see that the Astros are now in good hands.

If I were to vet this kind of analysis through the filter of, say, the legal standard for expert testimony, it would get thrashed. Relying on qualifications instead of data, relying on speculation as to motive, intent, and knowledge. Baseless extrapolation. In fact, that's all it offers.* Recognizing the errors of your (prior) ways carries little weight when you go and repeat them again and again.

That said, I'm not sure why you care, exactly. Like I said, I've stated my critique of the methodology. And I don't mind that you seem to think it's fine, or relevant, or interesting. Why exactly you care that - as an interesting (to me) intellectual exercise in a period of ST downtime - I gave some thought to what I perceived to be methodological limitations or flaws of the analysis eludes me.

I mean, I'm glad they tried to re-jigger the weights, but if the weights are based on flawed modeling to begin with, it doesn't get very far. And, if nothing else, their attempts to do so point out that they recognize (at least a watered-down version of) my critique. I don't think they've corrected enough to make the analysis valuable. I am quite happy to let others disagree and reap enjoyment out of it.

*I'm not doing anything more than giving an example. But the standard for this isn't particularly high, and it's generally sub-scholarly.

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Plenty of folks who are capable of "original thought" are jokes. Often, precisely because they are capable of an original thought.

I guess if you define "joke" as "someone you personally dislike." But he's a decent writer who actually seems to think about things. I'm not a big fan or anything but I don't see a defense for anything worse than "mediocre" or "annoying."

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I guess if you define "joke" as "someone you personally dislike." But he's a decent writer who actually seems to think about things. I'm not a big fan or anything but I don't see a defense for anything worse than "mediocre" or "annoying."

Annoying, mediocre pseudo-science is, to me, a "joke." As noted before, I am fine that folks don't agree with me and feel no need to try to convince anyone to agree. In other words, give me David Wain over Sam Mendes any day.

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Annoying, mediocre pseudo-science is, to me, a "joke." As noted before, I am fine that folks don't agree with me and feel no need to try to convince anyone to agree.

Fangraphs is taking essentially a puff piece ranking and attempting to apply some rigor to it. Not only that, but they've made adjustments and reacted to criticism from previous years. They're doing the best they can to increase transparency and reduce bias, despite being effectively laymen. Finally, they are certainly not trying to pass the piece off as anything more than it is. Nobody thinks it's definitive, or scientific. In fact, they go out of their way to highlight the subjectivity of the entire project.

So, I guess, what's your deal? Did Dave Cameron punch your dog or something? :D

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Fangraphs is taking essentially a puff piece ranking and attempting to apply some rigor to it. Not only that, but they've made adjustments and reacted to criticism from previous years. They're doing the best they can to increase transparency and reduce bias, despite being effectively laymen. Finally, they are certainly not trying to pass the piece off as anything more than it is. Nobody thinks it's definitive, or scientific. In fact, they go out of their way to highlight the subjectivity of the entire project.

So, I guess, what's your deal? Did Dave Cameron punch your dog or something? :D

[video=youtube;cDfQo1ANeLM]

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Thought experiment for everyone: would you trade everything Peter Angelos has direct control over (our GM and front office, ML players, MiL players, scouts, coaches, etc.) for everyone in the Houston Astros organization? You have to stay in the AL East but can have all of Houston's personnel. If you want we can even hypothetically switch revenue streams so the Baltimore Astros would make as much money as Houston currently does.

I don't want to make that trade. And I would have to think very hard about making it with Pittsburgh, Miami, the Chicago Sox, Cleveland, or Minnesota.

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Thought experiment for everyone: would you trade everything Peter Angelos has direct control over (our GM and front office, ML players, MiL players, scouts, coaches, etc.) for everyone in the Houston Astros organization? You have to stay in the AL East but can have all of Houston's personnel. If you want we can even hypothetically switch revenue streams so the Baltimore Astros would make as much money as Houston currently does.

I don't want to make that trade. And I would have to think very hard about making it with Pittsburgh, Miami, the Chicago Sox, Cleveland, or Minnesota.

Do we trade owners? That's the only thing I really care about.

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