• Freakonomics For Yankees

    Posted by on May 31st, 2005 · Comments (8)

    I just started reading the book Freakonomics. It’s been interesting so far. And, this AM, a passage that I read made the Yankee light bulb go on over my head.

    Without going into too much detail and giving anything away from the book, this section was regarding the prevention of a postwar revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the North, where the book talks about the “raw power of information” and how sometimes that power is “derived in large part” from groups hoarding information and that “once that information falls into the wrong hands” the hoarding group loses it’s advantage.

    Right away, I began to think of the baseball book Moneyball – in which, A’s G.M. Billy Beane allowed the telling of many of the ways the A’s run their team. Hmmmmm, and, how exactly have the A’s been doing since Moneyball came out?

    But, then, just as quick, I thought about a Baseball Digest article that I read as a kid following the 1976 World Series. This piece talked about how hard that the Reds scouted the Yankees for that series. It was very interesting to read after-the-fact.

    The scout that did the work said that he told the Reds that a Rivers bunt was an automatic hit. So, what did the Reds do? Rose played in at third right down Mickey’s throat. And, Rivers was neutralized. Next, the scout told Cincy that they should not let Munson hurt them with extra base hits – and, that if you gave Thurman the outside pitch, he would be willing to take it for a single to RF. So, what happened? Munson had a ton of hits in that series – but did not harm the Reds with any extra base hits.

    It was not all perfect. The scout told the Reds that you could “knock the bat out of the hands” of SS Jim Mason. And, Mason homered in his only AB in the series – the Yankees only long ball in the ’76 series.

    Nonetheless, information does have raw power. So, since the Yankees know that they have to beat the Red Sox to win in the A.L. East, why not try and get as much information on them as possible? If I were Big Stein, I would have a good scout assigned to the Red Sox 24/7. Get him a MLB.TV package. Make him watch every pitch of every Sox game. Somebody is getting Ortiz and Manny out sometime, right? There has to be something to learn there, no? And, some teams are able to beat Tim Wakefield, right? Why not try and see how they do it?

    And, while the scout is at it, he can look at the Sox-Yankees games and figure out what the Yankees are doing wrong when they play Boston.

    How much could it cost to cover a full-time Boston scout? Fifty-grand? Seventy-five maybe? Isn’t that worth it? How many Ortiz homeruns do you have to watch before you sign off on the idea? I think it’s time. Beats doing whatever they are doing now – because that is not working.

    Comments on Freakonomics For Yankees

    1. Phil
      May 31st, 2005 | 6:25 pm

      How will this scout be able to account for the “intangibles”?

      My point being- no amount of scouting will make up for the fact that one team just has the other’s number.

      I honestly think right now that even if the Yanks scouted the Sox to death- it won’t make a lick of difference in the postseason. The sox would just find a way to win in ways you would never expect.

    2. May 31st, 2005 | 11:30 pm

      A wise baseball man once said “Luck is the residue of design.”

    3. Don
      June 1st, 2005 | 2:43 am

      Get some pitchers with balls. Instead of Ortiz batting in a rocking chair make him eat dust.

    4. June 1st, 2005 | 9:47 am

      Still, then, you still have to know where to put the next pitch after the brushback. I’m not sure NY knows where that is yet.

    5. Raf
      June 1st, 2005 | 12:38 pm

      Anything can happen in a short series. And often (the wrong) things are magnified in a short series. Win as many games as you can during the season, and let the chips fall where they may during the postseason.

      Even if you do make Ortiz “eat dust” you won’t do anything but help put him on base (and looking at his OBP the last couple of years, he doesn’t need more help in that dept). And with the lineup the Red Sox have, you don’t want to put more people on base than you can get away with.

      Scouting is a good idea, but who’s to say the Yanks don’t already do it? Ortiz & Manny are good/great hitters, sometimes you have to give credit where it’s due.

    6. June 1st, 2005 | 1:01 pm

      Based on the way Renteria hit the Yankees at will this past weekend, I would say that the Yankees need to do a better job at scouting Boston.

    7. Don
      June 1st, 2005 | 2:21 pm

      The point being Ortiz is way to comfortable at the plate versus the Yanks. If he’s dusted once in a while he won’t have that rocking chair mentality at the plate.

      And if he would get hit, which is not the same as dusted, so? Putting him on first is so bad the way he hits this team? Let him clog the base paths then.

    8. Raf
      June 1st, 2005 | 5:28 pm

      He has a rocking chair mentality because he’s locked in, like any good hitter would be

      The “putting him on base” comment has more to do with the fact that a “duster” is a ball, not a reference to throwing at him. And do you really want to put someone on base in front of Manny Ramirez? ManRam may be a space cadet, but if there’s one thing he can do is hit.

      Make your pitches, hit your spots, and hope he gets himself out. It worked for Bonds, Mattingly, Molitor, Henderson, and any other hot hitter you can come up with. And if he does go deep, just hope the bases are empty when he does.

      http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/graphics/scouting_ortiz/

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