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Assorted Links and Thoughts on Moneyball and What the Astros should take away from it

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  • Sabernomics confirms my assertion that there's no way Peavy makes sense for a team when you can sign a FA starter.  
  • There's a Rockets blog on the SBN network: The Dreamshake.
  • If you enjoyed the odds I was posting down the stretch of the season, Playoff Odd's has a simple series forecaster in Excel format for the World Series.  It's something that could be fun to play around with.
  • Just as an inquiry: has anyone listened to, ""J.D. and Dave's Excellent Offseason Adventure"?  If so, is it worth downloading and listening too?
Ok, with those out of the way, I want to say one thing about Moneyball, because it's been getting a lot of mileage after last's night match-up of Kazmir and Hamels coupled with the prospects of it becoming a movie featuring Brad Pitt.  Much of the discussion has centered around the high and mighty attitude that Beane and DePo possess throughout the book, but mainly in regards to the draft.  A lot of mileage has been gotten out of Michael Lewis' quote:
Scott Kazmir is yet another high school pitcher in whom the A's haven't the slightest interest. Billy's so excited he doesn't even bother to say how foolish it is to take a high school pitcher with a first-round pick.

 

As much as Joe Morgan and a lot of others have loved to hate on the book, because it comes of as Billy Beane giving the middle finger to the rest of the baseball world, a close reading reveals that that couldn't be farther from what's actually going on.  Although MVN's site redesign seems to have lost Seidman's liveblog of his rereading of the book after Jeremy Brown's retirement, this BBTF posting contains a snippet that pretty accurately dispels a lot of the myths about the book.

It boils down to this: Michael Lewis wrote a book that would be widely popular and sell, so he exaggerates, emphasizes, and sensationalizes a lot of points throughout the book to make it entertaining.  Notice that the quote above makes it seems like the A's think that Kazmir was a joke to be taken at 15th, but the surrounding context in the book and anytime Billy Beane is quoted, reveals that their desire to find ways to exploit the market's inefficiencies and gamble on new strategies were because they had no money.  Taking a high-ceiling high-school pitching prospect is expensive -- think Ross Seaton x 5 -- and the A's can't afford those kinds of monetary gambles.  So for Beane, taking Kazmir 15th, a player who has the lowest odds of becoming a successful big league player, is insane.  Is it for the Mets? No because they can absorb those kinds of blows.

What I got from reading the book -- besides the enjoyment of reading a well put together pop-science-esque book -- was that the A's were utilizing every bit of information they could to win on a budget.  They couldn't run business as usual and succeed, so they employed a lot of atraditional methods with traditional scouting.  They actually turned out to be quite successful in the long-run -- the 2004 draft withstanding.  

It gets at something that every single organization in baseball should be asking themselves constantly: is there anything else we can be doing?  It's definitely something Astros' front office needs to ask themselves before they re-sign someone like Randy Wolf and refuse to sign Ben Sheets.  The Astros have been walking a very fine line between mediocrity with some luck and decade long slump since 2005, and business as usual will do nothing to increase the chances we don't become next years Seattle Mariners.