"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Three Days Later…Go See the Proctor

Dogs can hear things that people cannot but at 4:15 this afternoon most Yankee fans, no matter where they were or what they were doing, tilted their head to the side and listened with a bemused look on their face, struck by the piercing, collective wail that came from any Yankee fan who happened to be watching TV when Scott Proctor entered a 4-4 game in the bottom of the ninth.  Nobody else could hear this sound, of course, but we all could. Some of us might have had the urge to scratch ourselves, some, no doubt,  started foaming at the mouth, while others still just shrugged and went back to sleep, or work, or whatever else they were doing.

Now, you can’t blame Proctor for being what he is–and after all, this is the same guy who burned his mitt after a bad outing a few years ago–but would you believe, he worked around two base runners and sent the game to extra innings. It’s the truth.

It had been a nutty game to that point so maybe it wasn’t such a surprise. It was  gritsey and gutterly or plain fuggin stupid, depending on who you were rooting for. Ivan Nova had an early 4-1 lead but then the Yankee offense did plenty of nothing while the O’s chipped away–they got on base while the Yankees made errors. They had two men thrown out at the plate (crash, boom, bang) but tied the score against Rafael Soriano. By this time, any self-respecting Yankee fan following along was irritable bordering on Bill Bixby furioso.

Kevin Gregg struck out four Yankee batters in a row–Andrew Jones, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira and on to the bottom of the tenth they went. Ol’ Proctor struck out Mark Reynolds and maybe got ahead of himself. Nolan Reimold reached on an infield single, Chris Davis walked and then some twerp named Robert Andino screwed the pooch for good, singling home the winning run.

You can’t blame Proctor. He is what he is. You can howl at the moon all you want. But it’s probably best to lick your privacy, curl up, and go back to sleep.

O’s swipe it, 5-4.


1 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:01 pm

As I said over in the last thread, and as I'd love to get an answer:

Was there any option other than Proctor? I saw enough in his first outing to have a fairly strong opinion that he cannot get major league hitters out.

How many pitches had Noesi thrown in the loss yesterday?

Noesi is a major league-capable pitcher.

I never understand these moves by Torre/Girardi.

It's like they don't understand that a loss means that every good thing that happened previously in the game, every ounce of effort or resource expended now adds up to one singular thing: an L.

And that by bringing a guy like Proctor in who is so sure to fail (this was a Torre specialty), you might as well have taken the extra travel day, put in a forfeit, and stayed the fuck home or gone to LA early. Bringing in a Proctor = Why bother playing the WHOLE FUCKING GAME.

Otoh, if there was absolutely no other option, forget the above. I've been traveling and sorting stuff these last few days.

So damn frustrating not to beat those bastards in this particular game that they knobbed us on. Isn't this a game you particularly wanted to take from the Orioles?


And as I also noted, I'd like to officially call this being Wayne Franklin'ed. I swear, I find it damn near fucking inexplicable. Don't pitch Soriano. Go straight to swinging the sledgehammer at our collective balls, if that's where you're headed. Get on with it, man, if that's what we were here all day to do.

Even a JA reference makes me no less irritable right now.

2 Bruce Markusen   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:10 pm

Rivera, who had not pitched the night before, could have pitched. Also, Ayala and Wade could have been extended beyond an inning. You know, it won't kill a relief pitcher to throw a second inning ONCE IN AWHILE. Sometimes you have to do that in a close game, so that you don't end up having a retread like Proctor pitching the ninth and tenth inning of a tie game.

Also, the pinch-hitting with Andruw Jones made little sense. He hasn't hit righties all season. Either you put up Dickerson or Posada up there (my goodness, you have extra players to play with) or you put up a pinch-hitter like Montero, who CAN hit righties. Not smart.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:25 pm

I'm not going to defend Joe G., but my guess is he would also like to have D-Rob, Sori and Mo pitch whenever possible. But we have 8+ guys in the BP because that's how many it takes to cover the work load.

My guess is Joe isn't thrilled when he has to use Ayala and Wade, et al. But these guys get paid, and Soriano gets paid VERY WELL. We have to hope they can contribute.

We are tied for 3rd in the AL in ERA, so over all, the Pitchers have performed better then expected. Ayala and Wade both have ERAs under 2 (before this game) and Logan under 3. Maybe these stats don't tell the whole story, but ya know, even Mo has blown some games and made some Wins a bit uncomfortable.

Even to have Proctor on the roster, by definition, the BP must be stressed. He ain't there because he has potential.

Frankly, while I ain't happy to see some of these guys come in, I think Girardi has proven he's good at managing a BP, it terms of keeping guys rested.

However, I think we have a bunch of farmhands who are a better bet the EDSP.

It was a SHITTY loss, but I guess sometimes shit happens. But we have to use the resources we have, and hope for the best.

4 Start Spreading the News   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:28 pm

Noesi was probably not available, having pitched two straight days, including 43 pitches yesterday.

The following are the remaining pitchers unused in the game: Brackman, Kontos, Rivera, Robertson, and Valdes. Rivera wasn't going to be used without a lead -- all managers do this. Robertson pitched yesterday, though only 13 pitches. Valdes last pitched on 7/19. I would guess he is fresh, though only a LOOGY with a 1.88 WHIP. Neither Brackman nor Kontos have seen the light of day in the bigs.

So if you take out Proctor, you are committed to using Robertson and a bunch of roster callups afterwards.

5 Start Spreading the News   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:37 pm

Not really wanting to defend Girardi here, but if Proctor got thru the heart of the lineup, surely he could get thru the bottom?

He struck out Reynolds. Reimold reached on an infield single. Forgiveable. Walking a .267 OBP number 8 hitter was bad. Then of course Andino singled. Game over.

6 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:46 pm

[3],[4], and [5] thanks for the thoughts and answers.

So Noesi was obviously out.

And I would agree that Joe G. has, in general, showed a blessedly better handle on managing a bullpen than his nearly criminal predecessor.

But to equate Ayala and Wade to Proctor - no, I don't think that flies. I've seen these guys get AL hitters out, and it has not just been pure luck.

Sure, Proctor may have navigated the heart of the order, but there was just wishing and praying that would happen - it wasn't something anyone sane would have confidence in, imo.

And when you're playing Russian Roulette, when you've made it through three or four chambers, the odds are decidedly worse, or better that your brains end up on the ceiling. Even if the next hitters were not quite as good, wishing and hoping for a second inning of Proctor not getting wet in the rain, come on, what odds were you placing on a loss when he began his second inning of Proctoring???

Unless Proctor shows me something I haven't seen, he's not Ayala or Wade, neither of whom I have supreme confidence in, but who I have *hope* for when they pitch, as opposed to Proctor, who I have no confidence in and involves wishes that I know are not supposed to come true. Wayne Franklin is Wayne Franklin. And that always ends the same way.

And I'd reiterate that it's the scrapping all the resources committed in every inning before that bugs me about decisions like that. I get resource conservation, but every resource you just put out there - 10 innings on each of the position players or a few less and then some for the subs, every pitch on anyone's arm who threw - all of them have been committed and turned into one big fat zero, or, more accurately, nuttin' but a loss. Blech.

7 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 5:48 pm

Ha! My last comment is awaiting moderation! For all the swear words in most of my posts, I wonder what magic word I unwittingly pecked out, triggering the alarm mechanism for a rare profanity-free effort!!!

8 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 6:40 pm

[2] Bruce, it used to absolutely infuriate me that Mo was for Save situations only. It's a very foolish policy. But I'm resigned to it. Almost every manager in baseball adopts that policy. Until or unless we get the next Earl Weaver, fuggitaboutit. If anything I blame Cashman, who knows better, for not sitting Girardi down and explaining it to him.

Alex, I do blame Proctor. I also blame Irene for depriving me of my life for almost a week. She is what she is, and what she is is a bitch.

9 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 6:40 pm

Oh, and jj, we've missed you! Anyway I have. Glad you're back!

10 Start Spreading the News   ~  Sep 8, 2011 6:43 pm

[6] Agreed that Proctor is not as good as Ayala or Wade. I don't know who is saying that he is.

But Ayala and Wade had already pitched so the only remaining options were Brackman, Kontos, Rivera, Robertson and Valdes. Rivera would have been brought in a save situation, but not otherwise. Few managers brings in their closer in a nonsave situation in an away game. Robertson is already approaching his career highs in innings pitched. And he still has to be ready for the postseason.

So then the question remains. Do you keep Proctor for the bottom of the lineup for a 2nd inning? Or go with Brackman, Kontos or Valdes?

11 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 6:54 pm

[10] Folks have been talking about extending one of those two longer, which could mean having one of them available instead of four unusable pitchers in an inning that obliterates any purpose from the hassle that was Buck's Bad Day in Baltimore. Because what you're explaining is that he left himself with those guys plus Proctor, aka, four unusable pitchers if you give a damn about an inning. Of course, you might not give a damn about that inning. You know, the one that loses the point of any of the past effort of the hours that just came before it. But then... why make the trip.

[9] Many thanks! I'm back at school, so a little more likely to pop in from time to time, and as it's down the stretch they come time, I tend to get a little more murder vein throbbing angry and likely to check in with a thought or two!

12 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:00 pm

And by those two, because it wasn't very clear, I mean Wade and Ayala. Neither of whom are great shakes mind you (Ayala may be a mediocre shake, and Wade a bit better), but neither of them is SCOTT PROCTOR'S FREAKING ARM.

I also probably should have said murder vein throbbingly angry, which is just better.

13 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:12 pm

A hot summer night fell like a net
I've gotta make the postseason yet
I need you to hold 'em agin
And turn my extra inning game to a win

Proctor Proctor, gimme the news I got a
Bad case of watchin' us lose
No pill's gonna cure my ill I got a
Bad case of watchin' us lose...

14 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:13 pm

This sounds like a game to skip on mlb.com replay. Proctor won't be anywhere near the playoffs, right?
More worrying: what's the deal with Soriano??

15 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:15 pm

Ricky Romero strands Ellsbury at 3rd, well done. RIYank, you watching Sox game? It's on tv here this morning.

16 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:18 pm

[15] I was about to flip it on.
RSN is kind of depressed. They're trying to ignore baseball and get psyched about the Patriots.

17 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:21 pm

Scutaro has not been sucking as much as I expected him to.

18 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:23 pm

[14] Sounds like Soriano wasn't helped by Gardner, but yeah, he's becoming a worry.

He needs to get his nasty back. Not sure if his velocity has ticked down rather than back up since his first few starts back, but with that little 'stache and looking at his whole demeanor, he doesn't have the venom of that guy we all saw last year, who was nails.

So what if it's the 7th and not the 9th? Be nails, man. We need nails.

Although the grand farce of people trying to tell you that the 9th inning wasn't a particular, peculiar beast gets exposed more and more every day. I was always all for creative application and usage of resources, and considering all the options, but all that while maintaining an awareness that the last outs aren't the same as the ones before them.

Hell, the other team doesn't play them the same way, so even the variables will be different, and what by obviousness follows is that the math is wrong, as well.

19 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:24 pm

Is the Skydome the only place with artificial turf these days? Can't think of another one..amazing when I was a kid how many stadiums had it.

20 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:26 pm

[18] I'm not sure what all that means.

I think it's a very, very bad idea to refuse to use your best pitcher in the most important situations. And it's just absurd to think that the most important situation is always the ninth inning with a lead.

Look at the Sox last night. Francona (who is a good manager) absolutely would not bring in Papelbon to try to bail out Bard. And so, they lost. I mean, they might have lost anyway, but they would have had a much better shot with Papelbon in there bases loaded two out in the eighth than Bard facing Bautista or Matt Albers facing Encarnacion.

21 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:27 pm

[19] The Trop, right?

22 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:32 pm

Rob gets Johnson by three feet on that play.

23 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:38 pm

I'm enjoying this game very much.

24 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:43 pm

[20] I'm not saying the 9th is always the most important situation.

What I probably favor is having a closer - *yes*, having a closer - but being willing to deploy him creatively (as in, not exclusively in the 9th with a lead).

It's why the interchangeable bullpen doesn't work, and it's the argument I've had against almost every metric that people have claimed redefines the game since the beginning of this all. Which doesn't mean I don't like many of them, I do - but, respect the science.

There are too many devotees who are devotees as fan boys only, and bring little to the math and the real understanding of things. And that means respecting how much these metrics are in their infancy and being ready to approach each of them with skepticism, and if you have a talent for statistical thought, poking the appropriate holes in the new math so it can be improved.

This is one of those cases. The ninth is not just another inning. As I explained, if the other team is going to play it differently (they are), that, alone, means you have to adjust your calculations. So I'm for having a guy stand out as your closer - just don't use him reflexively.

And all my thinking would mean is that you still perform the math/the odds - just weigh the ninth appropriately. The math may still not recommend it, in many situations, as the one that demands the best resources - just value it with the best mathematical approximation possible.

25 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:52 pm

It's just too vague.

Look, I've never even heard of the "interchangeable bullpen". What does that mean? Almost every team has one relief pitcher who is a lot better than the others. The Yankees are fortunate to have two, and if Soriano gets back on track they could have three; and the Braves are also in a rare situation. But, most teams have one guy who is clearly their best pitcher.

It's just nuts to use that one best guy only in the ninth. It's nuts. It makes you lose more games. But almost everybody does it, because almost everybody is convinced that the ninth inning is special. I am very skeptical. I don't care what tactics freaking Buck Showalter is using -- if it's a high leverage situation, I want Mo in the game. I don't want to save him until the ninth. Get me out of the jam, and then Cory Wade can pitch the ninth with a three run lead and get the Save.

26 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Sep 8, 2011 7:57 pm

[21] Of course!

Boy, Andrew Miller kind of stinks..wasn't he once traded for Miguel Cabrera??!

27 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 8:15 pm

[25] It's not just too vague - it's how the math should be performed.

Figure out the math surrounding your high-leverage situation, and ALSO figure out where that is likely to place you probability-wise, in terms of what you have left. Then figure out if the probabilities you add together equal a win.

We've all seen that there are certain leads it's fine to pitch certain pitchers with in the 9th. And that should be adjusted accordingly by the resource value of the pitcher you are evaluating. If the math tells that you're likely to have Cory Wade, up three in the ninth, then, perhaps, that's what you should do. If it tells you that you have Scott Proctor, up six in the ninth, with an emergency bailout if it gets as close as two, then perhaps that is what you do.

Or the math may tell you that your situation is not as high-leverage as you think, and that you should be allocating the second most valuable resource, and leaving the most valuable resource for later.

The above is all stuff that would be less vague if this is what I did for a living. I don't, so I don't have the resources and I don't have the time to do the massive calculations that would go into that sort of thing.

What I like to see is people taking a fallacy, and after identifying it, figuring out by how much the way it's being treated in "new wisdom calculations" misses the mark. So at least certain NEW fallacies can be corrected.

You also have the problem of a guy like Mo, who - and I think the numbers bear this out, although I can't remember seeing anything recently - *does* seem to pitch differently when it's not his particular role. A lot of guys would need to relearn their approaches. To say nothing of the fact(?) that Mo is Mo because he has an entire game routine that centers around being ready at a particular point in the game - not just any point.

And - again - I'm not against experimenting with using a pitcher like that in different situations - just keep in mind, humans, not robots. Math might *suggest* it's better to use someone that way - *reality* might show that a pitcher benefits from having the same routine and same approach to each game. That those things are important to things you *know* are important, like release point and landing spot.

The interchangeable bullpen, btw, was absolutely a real thing. It was tried by the Sox near when James first arrived, and it was a spectacular failure. And one that organization tangibly backed off from.

There are two major flaws to hewing too close to all the new thinking. The first one is that the science is new, and needs to expand by leaps and bounds, as it has already in certain areas, and become a more mature science before people wed themselves to it and get on board a magic bus headed for the moon that, oops! It turns out is heading for the sun.

The second flaw is that, again, humans. It's the reason the jackasses at LTCM were headed for massive failure, and it's the reason that the assholes profiled in The Quants blew up our world. Math is great. Math is amazing. But it needs to be examined carefully, it needs to be tested by skeptics, and, on occasion, it requires serious correction, when it fails to accurately portray the subject it is evaluating (in many cases, humans) with proper respect for the subject's particularities.

28 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 8:33 pm

You didn't say what "interchangeable bullpen" means.

Here's an example of what I find too vague.

Or the math may tell you that your situation is not as high-leverage as you think, and that you should be allocating the second most valuable resource, and leaving the most valuable resource for later.

What is that supposed to mean? The way you find the leverage of a situation is by collecting the data and performing the analysis -- or looking up the results that someone else worked out. You don't just 'think' it's a high or low leverage situation. You check, by looking at the evidence and organizing it properly.

29 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 8:36 pm

Oh, and also, I would like to see the evidence that shows that relief pitchers benefit by performing a certain role all the time. I know lots of people claim that's true. I know many pitchers say it. But that's not evidence.

30 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:04 pm

Do you have the math in front of you that tells you how high leverage each situation is?

If you don't, you, RIYank, do just "think," in each case you look at.

And the math is often very flawed, because it takes iteration after iteration for them to get it correct. Identify the leverage of the situation, but also make sure you identify - by doing the math - how well teams do that do not have their closers available for the 9th inning! Do that math - and the statistics for that math are very available - and be sure to add *that* to your calculations. While you're at, see if there's anything to the idea that teams react worse to losing in the 9th inning than they do to a game that is lost in the 5th inning. Perhaps momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher, or perhaps there is an ascribable value that is being left out.

By the way, we both know people around here like to look at the win percentages throughout a game, and if ever there was a piffle of math that was just for fun... those are always terribly shallow, and take into no account the particulars of a game. You're up 4 in the 5th? Fantastic! What if your ace has thrown 120 pitches already? Change anything? What if your ace choked on a sunflower seed in the dugout and just went to the hospital? Same win percentage? Just pointing out that not all of these are even serious business.

I'm sorry, are you still not clear as to what I mean by interchangeable bullpen? They went into that season stating they did not need to have a closer and that everyone would be used wherever the heck they pleased. It didn't work.

I'm for having someone who pitches the 9th much of the time, but in certain situations is deployed differently. More than that, I don't think I can get behind.

What you ask for in [29] is fairly hard to come by - because of things you've already pointed out. If all teams use their closers the same way, you're not going to have a lot of comparative data. You could try to run the numbers of closers pitching in tie games or when a team is behind, if that gives you any sense of meaning. You could take a pitcher and see if he improved when given a consistent role versus scattershot use, but that won't tell you much. You're already dealing with very different animals because they are not going to be pitchers who are as good as the guys allocated to the 9th.

I don't know that a guy getting the 7th and almost always the 7th really makes a difference versus it being the 6th or the 7th. I know that such a situation isn't remotely similar to a guy knowing he's the closer and having that routine. Maybe you can propose a way to isolate a statistical sample. I think that's a tough one you're after. But it might not just be a Miracle in Panama that we have a guy who is religious about his routine and repeats his delivery better than anyone else we've ever seen. Or it could be a miracle. Who knows?

And back to what you found too vague - again, that's not quite fair. I've had a number of long days getting down to DC, and if the thoughts are not as crystal sharp as they could be, I can get with that, but my point is that I am skeptical that the leverage is being evaluated with all the appropriate factors factored in.

There may be a particular leverage to a particular situation, but you're still going to have to get at least 27 outs. Take a team with a spectacular closer and absolute garbage in the entire rest of the bullpen. Can you evaluate using him in that same game situation the same way you evaluate using a guy in a better bullpen? No, no you cannot. Because he may get you out of that situation, but the guys behind him might be so terrible that you'll pass through that obstacle, but you still aren't going to make it home. And then his effort will be similarly wasted as it is in the situations you hate when he never even gets deployed.

I don't disagree with pushing outside the rigid boundaries of how bullpens are used. I do disagree that figuring out the optimal way to use these guys is as simple as some think it is.

31 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:12 pm

And in that last example, the math may suggest that you are *still* better off using that one gem of a closer in the 5th, or the 3rd, or wherever needed, but you better have the math that tells you how all the other innings are expected to play out with what you have left - and you better plug in the actual guys you are using, instead of just using generic players and situations.

It may turn out that your dreck guys are much more likely to throw 30+ pitches in the ninth, if you ever get there, because teams are more tenacious in the 9th, and give away at bats much less easily. What are the numbers for hitting approaches in the 9th? I don't know. I'd love to see if, on average, more pitches are thrown in the 9th in save situations (just to approximate close games) than are thrown on average in other innings.

But that would be flawed math, because you're comparing pitchers in the other innings who are either different (starters) or inferior (guys who are not the closers). Reality might end up being that a non-closer is much more likely to ring up a punishing pitch count in the 9th than a closer will. And then maybe you lose those guys from throwing innings that are too long, and then you've reduced your resources in a more permanent way.

I think there usually are more things that need to be calculated that are still being left out.

32 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:19 pm

And on a basic level, I assume they evaluate leverage by finding out how much more likely it is for teams that emerge from those situations unscathed to win the game than it is for a team to lose a lead in the 9th?

But if you're running those numbers on a massive mass of statistics compiled on people using the *old* methods, that's a flaw.

Because those numbers might change, drastically, if the 9th inning guys were available much more infrequently because they were already used in the fifth. If you're evaluating how likely it is that you lose a game in the ninth with an (x)run lead, and you've done that evaluation using games where 9th inning guys were deployed in those games, your stats, or, at the very least, your conclusions, are horrifically fucked.

33 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:25 pm

jj, I know where to look up leverage on tables. Is that what you were asking? Managers certainly have the numbers available. If they just "think" a certain situation is high leverage, without checking, that's inexcusable. It's terrible, terrible managing. If a mutual fund manager behaved that way he'd be fired in no time, and probably sued.

I don't understand what you're saying in the next paragraph. It sounds like you're giving me a lot of homework, but I assume that's not what you mean. For instance,

make sure you identify - by doing the math - how well teams do that do not have their closers available for the 9th inning!

There's no general answer to that question, obviously. If they left Dan Bard in and then relieved him with Matt Albers instead of using their really good pitcher, then they lose the game whether their ace closer is still available or not. If they let Scott Proctor pitch because the game is tied and they only use Mariano when they have a lead, then it really doesn't matter whether Mo is available or not, because they just lost the game in the bottom of the tenth. Because instead of using their best pitcher in the most important situation, they insist on using him in the special Closer Situation.
So, what is your statistical question about how well teams do when they don't have their closer for the ninth? We need a more specific question than what you've asked.

Another example:

Perhaps momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher, or perhaps there is an ascribable value that is being left out.

What's with the 'perhaps'? This isn't some unknowable abstractum. You can just check to see whether teams do better when they've just won, or not. And the answer is, they do not.

Red Sox interchangeable closer:
I doubt it. What season are you talking about? I am very skeptical about this. Show me.

And as for evidence about roles: if it's true, there should be evidence for it. Relief pitchers didn't have special roles in the 1970s or even the 1980s. So show me how badly relief performance suffered in those decades compared to later decades. Why is this impossible?

Finally, this thing that you said makes my point best:

There may be a particular leverage to a particular situation, but you're still going to have to get at least 27 outs.

Right. And the outs you have to get in the low-leverage situations should be assigned to your worse pitchers, and the ones you have to get in the high-leverage situations should be assigned to your better pitchers. If I manage the Red Sox, you can bet your ass that Papelbon will be the one going after Bautista with two out, bases loaded and a one run lead in the eighth. Even though it's the eighth. Someone who tells me, "Oh, but we might need him more in the ninth" is either being disingenuous or doesn't know what he's talking about. If I'm managing the Yankees, I'm not using Scott Proctor in a tie game in the ninth when I have the best pitcher in the history of baseball ready to go, just because there is no Save available. That's just nuts.

34 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:36 pm

[31] That's a red herring, because there really aren't any high leverage situations in the third inning. Really the third inning is a completely different issue, because you're almost certain to have a good pitcher in at that point anyway. (Starters are better than relievers, because if the relievers were good they'd be starters!)

[32] No, that's not what leverage is. Leverage is in effect a matter of potential change in win probability. In some situations, like very early in the game, you'll find that a team's win probability is about .5 and will continue to be close to .5 no matter what the current batter does. But then late in a close game with a couple of men on base you'll find that a double would raise the team's winning chances from .2 to .8 and a double play would drop it to .1.

35 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:39 pm

Here's a good example. If the Jays don't score here, they will bring in Rausch to close. They don't need him to close. It's a low-leverage situation.

Whoops, too late, they scored, ruining the example (but I'm not complaining!).

Now Francona turns to Albers, which is reasonable, because he's not good. :-)

36 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:44 pm

The question isn't, "Why Proctor?" The question is, "Why is Proctor on the 40-man roster?"

The answer cannot be that the Yanks need an actual long man (guy to go 3+ innings). That's not Proctor at all.

The answer cannot be that the Yanks need a "long man" (ie, reliever who can pitch more than 1 but not much more than 2 innings), because that's not really Proctor. They have Kontos for that.

That leaves the answer as the team needs another short reliever. Why waste any time on Proctor when you have Whelan in the minors? (BTW, he's one of three guys on the 40-man roster NOT in the big leaguse.) he's had a lot more success more recently than Proctor.

That Proctor is on the Yanks and pitching any kind of innings is pointless and stupid, unless the Yanks have decided that home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS is without value.

37 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:45 pm

[35] If the Sox lose again, RSN will be in full on Patriots mode, until October at least. I will not complain. =)

38 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:50 pm

It seems like your not quite getting at the particular things I'm driving at, although admittedly, I've thrown a lot of words up there. But some of your responses seem to address things that are not in my posts - they're sort of simplified versions of what I've posted (I don't quite know how to say all that, so please just take that with no offense intended).

If you regularly consult those tables, bully for you. Please point me to them, I'd love to check them out, and also examine their methodology.

But I explained that even managers who consult them may be consulting flawed tables, for all the reasons I point out above, in which case, they are hardly employing empirical fact.

Similarly, I'm not understanding what you're missing about the question of teams that don't have the closer available to close, but I'll try to do better this time: how do teams do, in, say, one run games in the 9th, when the closer is unavailable? Now you might not have the deepest pool of statistics available because, as we're discussing, teams *do* tend to wait to deploy their closers until the 9th. But you might be able to find some data for your analysis by examining games played after the closer's been used three days in a row, or thrown 50 pitches over two days, or 60 over three days, etc.

Because situations exist like the one recently where Mo was not available because of use. You could pool together all those situations and see where they come out.

And run it up two runs in the ninth, no closer to use. And three runs. The three analyses may come out quite differently.

Again - not a close reading on the winning and losing and the next game. I said teams that lose a game *in the ninth* - NOT - teams that win versus teams that lose. I suspect that although you may have seen the latter, you have not seen the former.

I'll get to the rest of your post in a bit, although to be honest, I'm running out of time here (have some stuff that I actually do need to do), and I will try to look up that season.

I'm with you, btw, on using Papelbon in that spot. One, because you shouldn't be *that* inflexible (it's the freaking eighth), and two, because Bard had lost it and needed to be rescued. Here's reality again. Bard, having shit 7/8ths of the bed does not equal Bard coming in to start an inning. The Bard who's done all that bed-shitting isn't Daniel Bard. He's the "oh my God, I've shat an awful lot of this bed so far, haven't I" version of Daniel Bard. So pull him the heck out of the game.

The question is - do you use Papelbon in the 5th? How regularly are you willing to take that leap? How about the 6th? This is where managers leave the shore behind and take a full plunge into a new way of managing. Which may be the correct move, and nothing I said above states that it's not. I suspect it may not be, for reasons that I've stated above. But you can't half-ass it by acting like it's the same thing to be more than on team "put Papelbon on in that spot in the 8th" and on team "put him in whatever these metrics declare to be the highest leverage situation, even if it's the 4th!"

This also all started with me ranting about how much I hate using Proctor where he was used, because of how it turns all resources previously deployed into worthless shit. So that's a bit of a strange way to conclude your post.

39 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 9:51 pm

Captain Facemask's song:

I left the paaaaaaaaark
Off Frank Francisco....

40 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:01 pm

If you regularly consult those tables, bully for you. Please point me to them, I'd love to check them out, and also examine their methodology.

Well, I sometimes consult them. I am not a manager, so I don't have any particular cause to consult them constantly. Here's a nice start:
I recommend this book highly.
If you want to find other leverage tables (there are other methods), here is the internets for you to search with.

So you would like to know how teams do in one-run games when their closer is not available? I don't know the answer, but that is very easy to calculate, right? So if you are not, in fact, giving me a homework assignment, then I don't understand your point.

And you are telling me that teams that lose games in the ninth inning tend to do worse in their next game? I've never seen evidence about that, but I am very skeptical. Show me.

Using Papelbon:
There are rarely high leverage situations in the fifth inning, and in the fifth inning a team usually has a good pitcher in the game, namely, their starter. So I do feel that I more or less answered that question. There are few but some high leverage situations in the sixth, and the starter may be spent. So I say, obviously you use your best pitcher in that situation, and I frankly think it's just dumb not to. It's hidebound, conservative, foolish.

This also all started with me ranting about how much I hate using Proctor where he was used, because of how it turns all resources previously deployed into worthless shit. So that's a bit of a strange way to conclude your post.

Huh? Why am I constrained by what you said two hours ago? The example about Proctor makes my point nicely. I don't think I'm debarred from using it because you were ranting about him earlier this evening!

41 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:03 pm

Little Pony ends it.
Rob would have homered.

42 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:04 pm

Argh, now we're posting over each other, and I'm too tired to follow all that.

I don't think what you explain in [34] is all that different from what I describe in [32].

I'd really prefer to defer to a later time to discuss why that may or may not be true, but I don't want to go through each step of that right now.

I will say that you're discussing win probability, but win probability is extremely problematic when applied to an actual specific game. Who's available in the bullpen? Who pitched last night? Who's on the mound? Aren't those numbers even the same when you assess a very high run producing team and an offensively toothless team? Because you can't be generic there.

I don't want to identify a certain team we may be playing in the near future for fear of bad karma, but let me tell you, what that batter does in that .5 will always be .5 situation you've described sure as shit matters if you're a team that scores 1 or 2 runs in far too many games. And yet that low scoring team would be treated just the same. I'll bet if you examined that team, what happens in an early inning matters a hell of a lot, because the number of times they've won when a team has scored three in the first two innings may be low, because they won't beat that over nine.

And it's fine if the 3rd is a red herring, so switch all those references to the 5th.

But back to win probabilities, I find those assessments all kinds of suspect when applied to singular games. I believe they would treat a team whose starter has thrown 100+ pitches by the 5th the same way they treat a team whose starter has thrown 60 by the fifth. Which are radically different situations.

I'd like to see what the probabilities are of winning if your starter has thrown 80 pitches after four. That's the kind of number that would interest me, because I wonder if it's as big a problem for a team as I suspect it is. But maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. Maybe you could evaluate it by adjusting by a metric that does a broad evaluation of a team's bullpen to see if it's a bigger deal for some team than others. These are the kind of things I'd like to see studied.

43 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:16 pm

Thanks for the book suggestion. I am very likely to buy it - but then the question becomes, do I find the time to read it. Let's table this for tonight. I can't take it any further for the moment.

With the situations where you ask if I'm giving you homework, I'm not giving *you* homework, just someone homework. I'm suggesting something I'd like to see run.

What else do you want me to do? Your stuff has already been run because you're just in the stream of the new orthodoxy. I'm suggesting new ways of looking at things, which means that these things are much less likely to have been run already, and are certainly harder to find. What you put out there will have been said many, many times by people repeating the same things because they all sign on to the new orthodoxy. I'm a party of one. I have to suggest homework, or something I'd like to run if I had the time/resources.

If something is really interesting enough, I know one half of the freakonomics team - there is something I'm going to suggest they look into, but it's obviously not as particularized as the things I'm asking about here.

The best I can do is suggest things that may not have been captured by an existing new metric/probability calculation. Which isn't unreasonable. You have thousands of people who want to see things exactly your way, so that math's been run. It doesn't mean it's the only math worth running. It's just harder and less lucrative to be a skeptic. Show me? PAY ME. If someone were to pay me for it, I'd be delighted to do some of the statistical inquiries I'm suggesting may be worthwhile.

At this point, also, I'm not clear on which situations you tend to think are most often improperly managed, and I probably should have asked you to define those at the start, but now, like I said, I kind of need to "to be continued" this for the night.

Although you may have explained that one in your last post - is the boundary you want to see reached that teams start using their closers much more liberally in the 6th? Is that what any analysis should be cabined to?

44 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:20 pm

I will say that you're discussing win probability, but win probability is extremely problematic when applied to an actual specific game. Who's available in the bullpen? Who pitched last night? Who's on the mound? Aren't those numbers even the same when you assess a very high run producing team and an offensively toothless team? Because you can't be generic there.

I hear this kind of objection all the time, but it seems badly misguided to me. It's like saying that batting averages are useless because they are so extremely problematic when applied to an actual specific game -- is it day or night, who is pitching, lefty or righty, runners on base?, and so on.
So if the point is that sometimes it would be helpful to know more: Yes! Of course! Call Tom Tango! But if the point is that the more generic info is useless, that's just silly.

I'll bet if you examined that team, what happens in an early inning matters a hell of a lot, because the number of times they've won when a team has scored three in the first two innings may be low, because they won't beat that over nine.

That may be, but the leverage will still be very low in the second inning. I mean, you can get it a bit higher if the bases are loaded with two outs in a tie game.
But what is your point here? That you won't pull your starter in the first inning even if it's high leverage? Fine, there's no problem with that. Nobody in history has ever claimed that you should do it.

45 RIYank   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:22 pm

Okay, buenas noches, jj.

46 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:24 pm

Btw, from what I'm reading, the Red Sox believed "closer by committee" would work swimmingly in '03, it was, indeed, suggested by Bill James, it was slaughtered by everyone throughout the first 5/8ths (?)(not clear how long they tried it yet) of the season, and the team completely abandoned the idea, never to return to it again. If you are suggesting that "interchangeable bullpen" is too far a departure from the term the Red Sox used, I would mention that the underlying theory Bill James put forth in '03 that convinced them to try it could fairly be described as I described it - it's not my fault either the team or the media branded it with a different set of words.

47 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:27 pm

Yeah, I'll have to take on the rest of what you posted another time - I would very much like to engage on the "when can an average be used and when can it not" question, because I think there's a lot more to say on it than what you've posted there, but I can't tonight. I got you the Red Sox answer because I promised that, and I wanted to honor that promise.

48 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 8, 2011 10:38 pm

Btw, it look like the Red Sox abandoned the experiment at the beginning of July 2003.

Our Old Friend BH Kim

49 RIYank   ~  Sep 9, 2011 6:58 am

[46] Look, jj, either they did test the "interchangeable bullpen", or they didn't. It's not important whether it is your fault or not, as you put it. This isn't a question of blame, it's a question of facts and evidence.
Kim was a starter for the Red Sox, and they moved him to the closer role. He was obviously (to anyone who watched that season or looks at the game logs) not used as an "interchangeable" member of the bullpen, so I don't know why you think this tests whatever that concept is supposed to mean.
Kim is not a very good pitcher. He was not a very good starter, and he turned out not to be a very good relief pitcher. Had he been used in a completely rigid way, only in Save situations, he still wouldn't have been a very good pitcher. Right? Or are you saying that Kim would have been lights-out if only Grady Little had stuck to his guns against the Big Bad Bill and had a perfectly rigidly defined role for Kim?

50 RIYank   ~  Sep 9, 2011 7:03 am

Wait, I think I misunderstood.
You are in favor of the way the Sox managed the bullpen after July 1, when they moved Kim into the closer role, right? And you think the first half of the season was a disaster because they didn't have a set closer?
For one thing, as I said, Kim stunk and he stunk with or without a defined role. So this kind of refutes, rather than supports, your point. More important, the Red Sox didn't have good relief pitchers that year. (They had a very weird pitching staff -- the best pitcher in the history of baseball, plus a bunch of mediocre nobodys.) The reason their bullpen didn't have a stellar June is that the pitchers in that bullpen weren't good. We know this is true. We can look at how good those pitchers were in other situations, on other teams. If you really doubt this, just look at Kim's career.

51 BobbyB   ~  Sep 9, 2011 9:29 am

Excuse me if I'm getting sick of Joe Girardi. He's repeating his poor performance of last September. They say a manager can only win or lose 5-10 games in a season. Well Girardi seems to be helbent on doing all his losing in September. There is no way, going into an 11 day trip, that we shouldn't have tried to win all four games against the worst team in baseball, the Orioles. On Wednesday, even after the late night game on Tuesday, the starters should have started and I'm convinced they would have scored early and often and won that game. Going back a week, why did he keep CC in the game in the late innings with a two run lead? We know the Sox are gearing up to win their seven games against the Orioles and I doubt Francona is going to rest his starters. Home field advantage at Yankee stadium is a HUGE advantage as any review of the past 15 years would show. Last seasons 12-17 September cost them that advantage and I can't believe anyone would risk losing it two seasons in a row.

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