Go Ahead, Fool Me Thrice
by Ken Arneson
2007-03-12 18:40

Presumptive fifth starter Joe Kennedy got clobbered again today, which is really odd, if you believe in the walk year effect, and you consider that Kennedy is looking at Gil Meche money instead of Alan Embree money if he can manage to get through the year without losing The Job That Is His To Lose.

Yeah, yeah, it’s just spring training, and all that. Worry not. But on the other hand, Billy Beane & Co. are perfect examples of Cringely’s Law of Smart People:

There’s an interesting effect here that I’ve noticed over the years — smart people don’t make the same mistake twice while REALLY SMART people don’t make the same mistake three times. Since they tend to make fewer mistakes to start with, really smart people tend to repeat the mistakes they do make because they are initially convinced that the outcome was someone else’s fault or perhaps because of cosmic rays.

Thus Jose Ortiz starts at second base for two months until the A’s figure out he’s not a major leaguer, and Eric Karros keeps getting to play for months until the A’s figure out his career is done, and Arthur Rhodes keeps getting the ball in the ninth inning for two months until the A’s figure out he’s a basket case, and Esteban Loaiza pitches every five days for two months until they figure out he’s injured, and Dan Johnson plays first base every day for two months until they realize he can’t see. And every year the A’s get off to a slow start, and every year the A’s wait about two or three weeks longer than any smart (not REALLY SMART) person would wait before getting rid of the guys who are dragging them down and replacing them with someone who can actually play.

And Joe Kennedy? I am of the opinion that Joe Kennedy has already proven his suckitude as a starter (5.01 career ERA), and also proven a certain awesometude as a reliever (2.51 career ERA), so why mess with success? I guess the good news is that if I am right, and Kennedy has his head screwed on backwards when he starts, he’s giving the A’s a four-week head start towards figuring out that he sucks. Maybe now they’ll replace him in May instead of June.

But why listen to me? Maybe the starter/reliever splits are just phantoms, and Kennedy will fix whatever’s ailing him, and he’ll do just fine. After all, I’m just an ordinary smart person, not some REALLY SMART guy like Billy Beane.

Comments: 4
1.   trainwreck
2007-03-12 20:25

1.  Do the A's really have many options if Joe Kennedy cannot start?

Windsor?

2.   Bob Timmermann
2007-03-12 20:30

2.  Phil Birnbaum had a presentation on player performance and walk years.

You can get the PowerPoint of it at his website:
http://www.philbirnbaum.com/

3.   Ken Arneson
2007-03-12 20:47

3.  1 The A's have plenty of options if Kennedy sucks. Halsey, Windsor, Komine, DiNardo, maybe Meyer if he can prove he's healthy: they call can put up your typical 5th starter numbers, I'm sure. The problem won't be replacing him--Beane's too smart to leave that uncovered--it'll be sticking with him too long.

4.   MrIncognito
2007-03-13 13:28

4.  If Kennedy sucks as a starter, the A's can easily rotate him into the bullpen, where he's demonstrated his value.

If Kennedy is good as a starter, Beane gets to play with the trade market from a very strong position.

There isn't much of a down side to giving him a shot at the rotation.

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