Monday, June 4, 2007

How We Know What Isn't So

The Chicago Sun-Times is stoking the fires of a Jermaine Dye for Bobby Abreu trade. That's well and good, I suppose. Both Dye and Abreu have been horrific this year. Abreu costs more than twice as much as Dye, but neither the Yankees nor the White Sox are particularly hard up, and each player is in the last year of their contract (Abreu has a 2008 club option with a $2M buyout). I'm sure both players could use a change of scenery and it's possible, I suppose, that this could be one of those trades that benefit both teams.

Still, there's always some baloney floating around trades like this, and the baloney in this one comes from this bit in the Sun-Times article in which the Sox think the trade is a good idea because:

Not only because Abreu is a good friend of Guillen's -- which worked out well when right-hander Freddy Garcia came over -- but also because the Sox believe Abreu is a slow starter and his best baseball this season is ahead of him.
I believe Guillen and Abreu are friends, but the bit about Abreu being a slow-starter is largely horseshit. A quick scan of Abreu's splits over at reveals that in three of the past five years, July was, by far, Abreu's worst month, and August was his worst month in another of those years. In each of the past three years, Abreu's best months were either April or May. His August and September tends to align nicely with his season totals. Upshot: while not an extreme spring player, recent-vintage Abreu tends to be better before the pennant races truly heat up and can often be counted on to post his worst month in July.

Given how bad he's been so far and given that he doesn't appear to be hurt, one would naturally think that Abreu will improve as the season wears on. Such thoughts, however, are not based on empirical evidence. Just as a coin which has come up heads five times in a row is no more likely to come up tails on its next toss than it was on it's first, statistically speaking, Abreu is just as likely to stink it up for the rest of the year as he is to break out of his funk, and nothing the White Sox tell the Sun-Times beat reporters can change that.

But at least we know Ozzie will be happy having his buddy around.