Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Protecting Outs

Scott at Caffienated Confines, with whom I used to banter with over on the Mariners official web site fan forum during its glory days, scoffs at the notion that the M's are lacking "fire." I agree. The M's are lacking hitters, pitchers, and fielders.

I really can't stand it when people say things that have no meaning, especially when they try to dress up vapid content with words that are supposed to sound hip or sophisticated. I see this in papers of undergraduates that I grade, and in sales pitches from people that don't know their product. To those people I say: you're only fooling yourself. The rest of us know you don't really know what you're saying. The key to effective words are significant ideas behind them.

But getting back to what Scott also says:
    "Outs are guarded jealously, like Gollum with his “Precious", losing sight of the consideration that outs are merely a means to an end. The end being runs, which last time I checked was what they count up when they want to know who won or lost. The 2003 Marlins were one of the most go-go teams in baseball of the last several years, and they finished a lot further along than station to station teams like the Athletics."
First of all, the Marlins did not finish "a lot further along" than the A's. People who decry the Athletics approach to baseball often try to paint the A's as a failure, but they've made it to the playoffs more than the M's have in the last five years, and have done it in a tough division spending less money than any of their divisional opponents. The post-season is unpredictable, and the A's have just run into some hot teams or had some unfortunate breaks. But most teams should be jealous of the A's.

Secondly, outs, by themselves, aren't a means to an end. The recent talk about "Productive Outs" are an attempt to distinguish between outs that accomplish something, and those that don't. But it's far better to have good batters who get on base and don't make outs in the first place. Perhaps Scott's suggestion that Bob Melvin should take more risks is a good one, but not because Melvin should be making more outs. The real reason to give for running more would be that the benefits outweigh the risks. For a Mariner team that doesn't hit many extra-base hits, and does have a few speedy players, snagging additional bases is certainly a laudible goal. But the last thing bunt-happy Melvin needs to do is be less careful with his outs.

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