Monday, February 18, 2008

A Fatwah On Moneyball?

I couldn't do much more than make the blindingly obvious jeans joke when I heard that Jeremy Brown retired the other day. BP's Kevin Goldstein uses the news to reveal something curious:
More than a year ago, an A’s official sent me an email asking me, half jokingly, to stop mentioning Moneyball. It was an understandable request. Baseball changes quickly, and the lessons from Moneyball, or maybe more accurately, the lessons that the readers often perceive from Moneyball, no longer really apply.
I hope it was more than half joking, because if the request was even partially serious it would mean people in the A's front office have some seriously thin skin. Can we mention the Reggie Jackson trade yet? How about the 1988 World Series? Too soon?


Anonymous said...

Why don't they just come out with a sequel, called "roid-ball?" Canseco, McGwire, Tejada, Giambi, Giambi lite...(ok that one's a reach.) Was it Beane's genius, or something else???

Come to think of it, that sequel already came out, it's called "juiced."

Pete Toms said...

Alan Schwarz in " The Numbers Game " discusses how many teams downplay or are outright secretive about employing "stat nerd" types. Doesn't play well with the rank & file.

Anyway, as many others have observed, the "low hanging fruit" in the Moneyball type approach has long been picked.

I don't know what the prevailing wisdom is amongst clubs when it comes to the newer subjects like defensive & baserunning metrics. Law mentioned in a BTF chat a while back that Ricciardi wasn't a believer in defensive metrics when they were colleagues.

Shyster said...

I think most teams have guys now, and that they're well beyond the kind of stuff set forth in Moneyball. I'd be shocked if any team employing a dedicated analyst didn't have them all over defense and baserunning, looking at stuff we amateurs know relatively little about.

Which goes to your point about the low-hanging fruit. It also goes to Neyer's point today about "thinking about Moneyball in the right way."

The important point of Moneyball was not about finding the take and rake guys. Everyone has been looking for them for years, and probably began to even before Moneyball was published.

No, the key point was about finding the undervalued and overlooked players, whatever the skill set, and figuing out how a team with finite rescources can maximize it's investment in player development. It used to be OBP guys who couldn't sell jeans. It's entirely possible now that it's Whiteball-esque jackrabbits, or flakey junkballers, or whatever.

What we can probably bet on, however, is that whatever it is the Keith Woolners of the world are working on will not find its way into a book again. That's because the one thing Bill Beane didn't have a good grip on circa 2002 was that the only thing that remains valuable and exploitable no matter what happens to be in fashion is confidential information.

Richard Dansky said...

I figure at this point, Moneyball is the A's equivalent of "Oh my God, do you remember that time in college when you slammed an entire bottle of tequila and threw up on the dean's shoes?" I'm just surprised that some enterprising junior A's staffer hasn't gone off with a machete to wreak havoc on journalists who reference it indiscriminately and inaccurately.