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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Friday, October 28, 2005

More Steroid Rumors

Well, here we go again! There's more rumors flying about a unnamed player testing positive for steroid use. This time it's supposedly a AL playoff team outfielder who the baseball public will "actually care about". That leaves us with a dozen players to speculate on. Subtract Aaron Rowand because nobody really cares about him. The same goes for Trot Nixon. That leaves us with 10 guys. Johnny Damon was mentioned in rumors like this earlier in the year, so he could be a possibility. But simply being mentioned in a rumor that turned out to be false shouldn't implicate him in this rumor as well. Podsednik jacked 2 homers in the postseason after not hitting any all season. I'll chalk that up to chance and luck before steroid use though. It seems like more people than not are hoping it's Gary Sheffield. I'm putting my paycheck on Steve Finley. The backdrop seems to fit: an aging player looking for an advantage to hang around the league for a couple more years, his injury problems this year, his power surge late in his career, and the time he spent as a teammate of admitted steroid user Ken Caminitti.

The story could turn out to be completely false, but it seems to have more legs than the Clemens/Damon rumor a couple months ago. Will Carroll, a reporter at baseball prospectus, had this to say in a live blog chat.

Carroll: "I really can't talk about it right now. It should be coming out within the next two weeks."

SBL: "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?"

Carroll: "Yes."

SBL: "Is it a World Series champion?"

Carroll: "I really can't talk about it."

SBL: "I would hope not, because that might turn those White Sox black... Will, cough once if he's on the White Sox... Cough twice if it's Gary Sheffield."

Carroll: "I was involved in the appeals process so I can't comment at all."

I guess we'll have to wait and see if it turns out to be true. For what it's worth, I see Carroll as a pretty credible source and I believe he does quite a bit of work for MLB teams, as do other guys from BP.

Enough with the rumors. The Diamondbacks hired Josh Byrnes as their new GM to replace Joe Garagiola Jr. Byrnes is a 35 year old graduate of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He spent the past year as an assistant to Theo Epstein. Byrnes is another "new age" GM who uses statistical analysis combined with traditional scouting to assemble a team. Earlier this month the Rangers promoted 28 year old Jon Daniels to GM after John Hart stepped down.

While many in the SABR community are elated over the new hirings, I feel like the "traditionalists" aren't taking this shift towards statistical analysis seriously enough. The fact remains that GMs are in charge of filling out the rosters. Therefore, they decide not only who plays, but more importantly what kind of players play. That in turn defines how the game itself is played. The SABR community tends to value OBP, power, and pitching while somewhat overlooking small ball aspects of the game like bunting, base stealing, and defense. If this trend continues, we could see the eventual weeding out of speed/defensive players. Whether this is a good or bad thing varies from person to person. But if you're a proponent of small ball these hirings should at the very least peak your interest. There are plenty of intelligent people who believe your game theories are counterproductive. It seems that now those people are making their way into baseball front offices where they are in position implement their own ideas over yours. With these types of guys already running teams in LA, Boston, Texas, Arizona, Toronto, and Oakland, with many more in lower levels of other clubs, it is something you should begin to take seriously.

It appears that now Theo Epstein and the Red Sox are getting close to a deal. Although I never expected theo to leave in the first place, it's curious to me how quickly they seem to have come together after Byrnes left. I guess without Byrnes to potentially take Epstein's place should he bolt, the Red Sox realized they better pony up the dough.

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