The Other Fifteen

Eighty-five percent of the f---in' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Buster and I

Buster Olney chats, I criticize. Deal? Deal!

Gray (Chicago): Buster, with 12 Ks and only 1 BB thus far on the season, is this the new, mature Carlos Zambrano we have been waiting for? After that Tejada HR on Sunday, the old Zambrano would have walked the next batter and hit the one after that.

Buster Olney: Gray: Yes, this is the new and improved Big Z, the real deal. His emotional progress is the reason why I think they'll win the division; he's a great anchor to that staff.

Yep, emotional maturity. That's the only way you can explain a decline in a player's walk rate over two starts.

I understand it has to be difficult to talk about baseball for pay at the beginning of the season. It's probably not endearing to ones editors to say "I don't know what this means" 30 or 40 times in response to questions from paying customers during a chat.

But armchair psychology annoys the crap out of me. I only try to tell you what a player's talent level is based upon his performance, and even then I add in a qualifier now and again. I hardly think it's possible to tell what a player's emotional state is based upon his walk rate.

Brendan, NY: Whats your take on Sorianos proper batting order slot? Any chance they still get Roberts b/c they might resolve a lot of those issues and DeRosas looked pretty bad at second so far.

Buster Olney: Brendan: There is no perfect place to hit him, other than No. 7. he strikes out way too much to hit anywhere from 3-6, and you can't hit him eighth; he'd get less than nothing to hit. You can't hit him seventh, because the Cubs are paying him way too much money to stick him in that slot in the lineup, and he's made it very clear -- in Washington, and with the Cubs -- that he is most comfortable leading off. So Lou basically has to grit his teeth and write in Soriano at No. 1 until the Cubs get Roberts.

I'm not going to rehash Soriano's splits; I've done that already here and here, and don't plan on revisiting that unless something new comes to mind to say on the topic. Olney really puts too much weight on how often a hitter strikes out, though.

I love how Olney acts like it's still inevitable for the Cubs to get Roberts - no need to eat crow on that one!

Mike (cleveland): Buster, Just finished "three nights in August"...the epilogue was very interesting. Buster where do you stand on the current pseudo-standoff between pure stat analysis and traditional scouting and player development? I see the value in both...but I have to say that experience is the best teacher in most pursuits, and I dont see how a statistics degree from MIT should add any level of expertise to scouting. You learn the game by playing it and/or managing no?

Buster Olney: Mike: I think there's a great mix to be found between the two approaches, a middle ground. Some scouts don't pay enough attention to the numbers, and some stats guys don't acknowledge that personality can and does play a role in what happens (for example, the long-held belief that a lot of relievers are interchangeable). The Indians and Padres are the best teams, I think, at combining the two schools of thought...

Bob, Chicago: Soriano had the third best OPS+ on the team. How can you say he can't bat anywhere from 3-6?

Buster Olney: Bob: This is a classic example of the whole scouting vs. numbers thing I just mentioned. The numbers say one thing, but if you've been around Soriano and watched his hitting with RISP, he just is not good in big spots, against good pitchers; he just destroys rallies...

And then, about face! It's not his strikeouts, its his personality!

Here's the thing: we keep score with numbers! If it's about winning and losing, then the numbers are what matters. You want to end the game with more of the right numbers than the other team.

I really hate criticizing Olney for analysis because I don't think it's central to who and what Olney is. But... Olney is bad at analysis. As a clearinghouse for information and sourcing he's good, but he's no Robothal.

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4 Responses to “Buster and I”

  1. # Anonymous Vince

    "It's probably not endearing to ones editors to say "I don't know what this means" 30 or 40 times in response to questions from paying customers during a chat."

    This guy does it every week and his fans love him.  

  2. # Anonymous DeRoMyHero

    Which Roberts is Olney talking about?  

  3. # Blogger Matt Mitchell

    I think it's funny that Olney talks about seeing Soriano hit with RISP, something that you could fire a simple stat like BA at him with and he'd accept your argument.

    BTW, those numbers .167 this year and .251 career.  

  4. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I'm with Vince on this one. The fuck is Olney supposed to say Colin?


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