So longtime reader Shamus and I were sort of like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid over at MLB.com today, tag team partners if you will, as Tim Purpura held an online chat this afternoon.
No sooner had Purpura finished responding to one of Shamus' questions, than he began to answer mine.
I would suggest that no other Astros online forum can say that they had a greater presence at the chat today. . . .yeehaw.
Here's what it looked like:
Shamus: Besides Patton, who do you feel has the highest upside between Barthmaier, Gutierrez, Albers, or Paulino?
Purpura: All four of the pitchers you mendioned are what I would consider the next wave of great arms in the system. However, since Matt Albers has already made it to the major leagues and reached a much higher level in his career, I think he has the best chance to help us this year. And that would be even above Patton, who has just gotten his feet wet at the Double A level, and still has some time to go before he's major league ready.
rastronomicals' critique of Purpura's response: Purpura tells us that he thinks Albers is most able to help this year, but he didn't answer Shamus' question, which if I do not misinterpret, is who is going to help the team the most down the road, not necessarily just this year?
While I understand that Purpura has an interest in appearing impartial here, I might mention Baseball America's newest prospect list. Pitchers in their top ten are, in order:
Beyond that, I would hope that Purpura and the rest of 'em can imagine a scenario where Barthmaier for example, or hell, Patton, lights up the Texas League like Albers did last year, and can make some contributions in Houston late in the year. I hope they aren't just locked into this idea that Albers is the only one who might be able to contribute, is all I'm saying.
rastronomicals: What role does the use of sabermetrics or advanced statistical analysis play in your decision-making processes? Would you say that the Astros are more aggressive in their use than other teams, or more cautious, or about the same?
Purpura: I think all teams use statistical analysis to assist in player evaluation and evaluating players for trades and free agent acquisitions. We also use our own internally developed metrics to assist our pitchers in our development system, as well as our hitters in the system. We use these as teaching tools to emphasize, for example, the importance of a pitcher to get ahead in the count and to stay ahead in the count. But we also use traditional scouting methods to get a feel for a player's competitiveness, aptitude for the game and overall tools.
rastronomicals' critique of Purpura's response: Nothing to argue with, I don't suppose, but I dunno, I kind of wish Purpura had told us something more like this: 'The Astros will look at everything and anything to give us a competitive advantage. For that reason, while we are not silly enough to fire our scouts, or disregard what they tell us, we also are committed to being in the vanguard of major league teams in the use of these forms of analysis. And then we can choose to act on certain numerical patterns or not, as we see fit, but at least we have the information. As GM I can never ever have too much information.'
I take Purpura's response to mean that the Astros are about average leaguewide in their use of sabermetrics.
I invite Shamus and all other readers to respond to what T-Purp had to say this afternoon.