If you can't get enough of all things Michael Taylor, you might want to check out this writeup that includes a couple quotes from the ol' Taylormeister. Other than that, I don't actually have a lot to say about Michael Taylor today. He's still huge, he's still an exciting addition, his stats are the same today as they were yesterday. However, we may have a Taylor exclusive coming up soon, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, it's onto other issues on this potpourri of a Sunday...
There has been much discussion (the nicest word for "argument" that Webster has to offer) about the virtues, and lack thereof, the ease, and lack thereof, of a certain stat called WAR. I think that one of WAR's greatest attributes is also one of its greatest liabilities, and that is the fact that it uses data from a lot of different pieces of a player's game in order to produce a single number.
This is good in that unlike batting average, which tells you about hits and at bats but nothing else, WAR considers hitting, slugging, getting on base, defense, shoe size and grit (maybe not the last two), and whirls it all up in an osterizer (undoubtedly located in someone's mom's basement) in order to draw a more holistic and comprehensive conclusion about the player's value or worth.
But this is also bad because when you see that a player's WAR is high or low, you cannot instantly separate out why. In a controlled experiment, you would take a non-allergic person and subject her to identical conditions except for the presence of a cat. When she started sneezing, you'd have a pretty good idea she was probably allergic to cats. However, if you take the same person and at the same time introduce a cat, a dog, freshly cut grass, mold, carbon monoxide, and pepper, then it's a little more difficult to assess the source of her sudden non-stop sneezing fits. She will also probably break up with you, which is, believe me, a lesson I won't have to learn twice.
In other words, a player who slugged .480 slugged better than a player who slugged .440, period. It's not as helpful to look only at slugging, but in terms of understanding better and worse sluggers, it's clear. But a player whose WAR was 3.2 was better than a player whose WAR was 3.0 because...? More complete stat, less clear at a glance what's going on.
So I propose using instead a stat called PEACE. PEACE looks at Pitches seen, Errors, Average, Called strikes, and Extra base hits. It is used primarily to assign a value to trainers, traveling secretaries, and 1B coaches, and is calculated on a scale from 1.0 to fish. If you're interested, based on 2009 data Steve Sayles comes out at a 1.8, Mickey Morabito rates 3/4 of a grouper, and Todd Steverson earns an impressive 4.2na.
I'm really not sure what the world of sabermetrics would do without me.
Finally, I want to say that I really don't agree with those who believe that if the A's aren't going to contend in 2010 it doesn't matter how good they are. There is good reason to add a piece that makes the team better, even if it doesn't get the A's "over the top" into contention range, even if it doesn't help the A's long-term. As long as it doesn't harm the A's long-term, there are good reasons for Oakland to try to improve to a 78-win team, or an 80-win team, or an 82-win team, if it can.
First of all, for a young team just winning more games than the year before is a concrete achievement that sets up success the following year. Anything over 76 wins would represent a high-water mark for the past 4 seasons. Anything over 81 wins would represent a "winning season" and would make the jump to 90+ wins seem like a hop and not a leap.
Second of all, not until June will it be clear how good the other 3 teams are, how good the A's are, who has been decimated by injuries and who is having a magical season, and so on. "Probably not contending" is different from "definitely not contending" and the first trick to hedging your bets is to "hang around" in the division. You can become "sellers" or "standers pat" at the trade deadline, but you don't need to become "sellers" in April. Try to get your team, if it's possible, to the point where it can at least "hang around" until you can size up the division and the season.
So if a Carlos Delgado (as one example of a high-upside player who will not impact the team long-term) is available on the cheap, there is every reason to take a flyer on him. Troy Glaus is another example. So he might take a few at bats away from some younger players for 2-3 months; April and May are the wrong months to concede a season. You don't build for the future and give up on the present -- you build for the future and in the meantime, you do the very best you can now. It's the right message to send to your young players and it's the right way to approach a season where at the moment your doesn't look great but it also doesn't look terrible.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Asia to search for someone with Teipei blood. Meanwhile, you can discuss, on this 5th anniversary of the Mark Mulder trade, anything you darn please -- from topics broached in this post to Ryan Sweeney's upside or backside.