2004 05 02
Four arms good, five arms bad

Posted by in: Baseball

Baseball Primer is still down, and I want to talk about this, so:

The Colorado Rockies announced today that they will be going with a four man rotation until the end of the season.

Over the last couple years several teams, most notably the Blue Jays and the Reds, have considered it, but if the Rockies follow through, it would be the first time since 1995 that any team has only used four starters for any significant length of time.

Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus wrote an excellent series of articles on why teams – if they do it right – might gain quite an advantage by going to a four man rotation, and it looks like the Rockies know what they’re doing.

On the other hand, the four pitchers the Rockies will be using aren’t that great (though their 5th starters had an ERA of 17.47 in 3 starts). And the Rockies aren’t exactly known for following through on ideas. But I hope it works, if only to reward them for being willing to try something new.

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2004 04 11
Unfrozen Caveman Messiah Centerfielder

Posted by in: Baseball

A bunch of people at tonight’s Red Sox-Blue Jays game showed up with fake wigs and beards, with a sign proclaiming themselves “Damon’s Disciples.” One, that’s just awesome. Two, thanks to Baseball Musings for possibly inspiring the idea. And three, hats off to one of the goofier guys in baseball.

Ooh! More on Damon’s new look, from someone with even more impressive facial hair.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 04 10
How much would Barry Bonds’ “specimen” go for on eBay?

I just don’t understand what’s going on with baseball, steroids, and the government. Now the IRS has seized samples and test results from baseball’s most recent steroid tests. If I were the player’s union, I’d be mighty annoyed that tests that were supposed to be anonymous now look like they’ll be made public.

Why is the government involved in all this? The only guess I have – and it’s probably wrong – is that some of the owners are using connections to get around some of the drug provisions made by the player’s union.

For a reasonable player’s viewpoint on this, check out the Cleveland Indians’ Jody Gerut’s weblog.

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2004 04 08
Computers will eat your brain

Posted by in: Baseball, Math

Nearly every mathematician I know uses computers in their work in one form or another – at the very least they’re an easy way to do calculation that would otherwise take up too much time and energy. But an article like this seems to miss the point entirely.

There are two issues here: the first is that using a computer to check cases or run lengthy computations doesn’t affect the worthiness of the math; you’re not going to get shunted off to a computational journal for that. The second is that a proof that is actually found by a computer is not that interesting from a math standpoint. It’s nice to know a theorem is true, but mathematicians have been proving theorems based on unknown facts for thousands of years.

Stephen Goldman, possibly the best baseball writer of the last 25 years not from Kansas, wrote about similar issues in the baseball community. Computers in math, and the new (mainly statistical) methodologies used in baseball are just tools, and correspondingly can be used for good or evil. But dismissing them out of hand is foolish.

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