I Don’t Hate Jim Caple Today

Jim Caple, the Yankees-hating douchbag who writes for ESPN, produced an excellent article today about closers and the save statistic.  In light of Jerome Holtzman’s death, Caple thoroughly explores the history of the closer, concluding that because of the save statistic and the media’s infatuation with the closer, teams’ best relief pitchers today are often not used in the most important late-inning situation.  Here’s how Caple ends the piece:

Teams would have to slowly wean themselves off the all-powerful closer, gradually bringing their best reliever into earlier, more important situations. And the media will have to start hounding managers with questions like, “Why did you use your closer with a three-run lead in the ninth when studies show you would have probably won anyway? Why not save him for a more important situation, such as a tie in the seventh?” But some team eventually will come to its senses and do exactly that. And as opponents see this strategy work over the course of months and years — and see that it also was a cheaper way to win games — more teams will copy until it becomes the preferred method. They will, as Beane says, “stumble back onto the old system” and realize that if it was “good enough for Whitey Herzog, it’s good enough for us.”

If so, sanity — rather than the “save situation” — will rule the day again.

Of course, there is one inherent risk to that. While teams and fans would view the save, “save situations” and closers in a more accurate light, there is also the unfortunate risk that they would eventually overvalue the “hold.”

Congrats, Goose.

Creator of Save Stat, Dead at 82

Jerome Holtzman, a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and a man who helped make relief pitchers more relevant, statistically speaking, died this past weekend.  While this is obviously sad news here at the Loogy Lounge, I couldn’t help but be amused by a comment posted by a gentleman named Hugo on the Times’ website:

I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I wish that save stat died with him.

Harsh, Hugo, but you kinda have a point.

We’re back! What a relief. Get it? Relief. Like, relief pitching.

Gnopple, you’ve inspired me to pick up the good fight for middle-relief recognition again.  When Joey Devine went down with an injury in late May, a piece of me did die, but with his imminent return, I feel ready to blog again.  For now, I provide a link that I meant to post awhile back.  The Hardball Times conducted a study and produced an interesting piece on whether relief pitchers suffer from pitching on back-to-back days.  A snippet:

While this study appears to generally conform to common knowledge, it still is nice to look at. While pitchers appear to lose a little on their fastball, their sinkers appear to have more bite while their sliders remain relatively unchanged.

We’re Not Dead; Neither is Radinsky

Hey devoted reader(s),

Sorry for the drop-off. We’ll be back (sans vengeance…don’t worry), soon. 

In the meantime, check out this sweet, long, heavily-illustrated, and entertaining interview with ROCKER/(former) RELIEF PITCHER, Scott Radinsky.  There’s a life after LOOGY after all…

Joba The Starter

Well, I guess this was inevitable. But why now? Because the Yankees are 21-25 and in the A.L. East cellar? Because Darrell Rasner is the 2nd best pitcher on the Yankees? These are ostensibly justifications for starting Joba, but to me, its just Yankees’ brass succumbing to New York media pressure. To be clear, like Hank, I’m all for Joba starting. But for a guy that wasn’t allowed to pitch more than an inning at a time every other day last year, this is a HUGE move to make mid-season. Unlike the relief-pitcher role, where any live arm can come in and dominate, starting requires a period of transition and adaptation, as MJ suggested in his guest post:

Pitchers work on all of their stuff in spring training and then develop their feel as the weather improves in April and into May. Pitchers usually hit their stride six weeks into the season. This plan would ask Joba to work on all four pitches in spring training, shelve them for a long period of time, go back and work on them again (against minor league hitting), and then expect them to be sharp against big league hitters.

I guess the plan is for Joba to work 2 innings for a few games, then 3, then 4, then 5, and by July 1 (?), he’ll be ready to be an effective starter.  My fear is that this transition is not as sufficient as a full spring training would have been, and in six weeks, Joba is going to be a mediocre starting pitcher.  The ramifications of this?

New York Post, August 1, 2008:  “Joba Should’ve Stayed in Bullpen”

Everyone who stupidly claimed that Joba, like Papelboner, is better suited for a relief role than a starter role, will be vindicated.  And by Spring Training 2009, Joba is a lifetime bullpen guy because that’s where he showed he can dominate.

This might sound like a worst-case scenario, but I think throwing Joba into the starting mix like this jeopardizes his future as a starter.   The risk is greater than the reward given that the Yankees are not a championship-caliber team this year, even if Joba performs well.  I pray to Babe Ruth’s corpse that everything works out and that Joba excels as a starter immediately, as he did as a setup guy, but I don’t have my hopes up.

Towers Hocs a Loogy

The Padres claimed pitcher Sean Henn off waivers from the Yankees. Will the wisdom of Kevin Towers show itself again? Only time will tell. This is such a big deal that it was inserted as a blurb in an article about Jim Edmonds’ release and the blurb says that Sean Henn is a righty. Blasphemy — Sean Henn is a Loogy through and through!