All things considered, maybe it’s for the best that no small market teams made the playoffs. Now the next four months will be void of asking who the next “x” is. The sensation grasped onto the Tigers’, Rockies’, and Rays’ unlikely runs and killed any reasonable discussion of the next up-and-comer. Naturally nobody mentioned the most-likely choice, which happens to be the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dave went in-depth on the aesthetic appeal of yesterday’s Iwamura deal and I covered the gritty baseball details last night, but some of the quotes from Pirates general manger Neal Huntington show why this team is in better hands now than most people suspect. Take this one, transcribed by Dejan Kovacevic, which touches on the service time issue (Chavez’ being under team control for an additional five seasons to Iwamura’s one):
“It was tough to give up Jesse, but the bullpen is the most difficult area to predict future performance. In our minds, it was much more difficult to find 600 quality plate appearances than 60 relief appearances.”
Focus in on the middle point more than the former (the Pirates liked Chavez) or latter (600 plate appearances of quality is harder to find than 60 relief appearances) and you see a common sabermetric principle: relievers are quite difficult to project moving forward. Take reliever’s home run rates. They have virtually no relationship year-to-year, yet they are important in a reliever’s success or failure. Again, this is nothing groundbreaking and most people who realize the sample sizes being dealt with are minuscule compared to the preferable total are rolling their eyes at this point.
Still, the sins committed by a previous front office leave residuals on the minds of many. People still think Pittsburgh is ran by a train of fools and that’s simply untrue. Huntington did excellent work in Cleveland and has assembled a few good men around him, such as Dan Fox. Check out his response to the most overrated statistic here and keep this in mind for when the Pirates start winning games. It’ll happen if this front office is given enough time.
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