October 2, 2008

STLtoday - Lohse deal good start to Cardinals' offseason

STLtoday - Lohse deal good start to Cardinals' offseason: "Give Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak credit for making a stealth move. The signing of starting pitcher Kyle Lohse to a four-year, $41 million contract came as a surprise. I didn't expect it. I was caught more flat-footed than Rams cornerback Tye Hill."

... Signing Lohse to multi-year doesn't surprise me at all. Why should it? While the organization couldn't decide who to call the ace, (no knock on Carp or Waino), Lohse was work-horsing wins during the first half of the season, then work-horsing more great performances for which he didn't always get the offensive support in the second half, with one nasty start to prove he was human along the way.

Multi-year is always risk. There's no crystal ball. But it's how the deals are done these days.

An interesting part of this article was what I'm guessing were plus-factors for Lohse, regarding his pitching mechanics, which were described as "refined and low-stress." What is unclear is whether this end of paragraph claim was being made by STATS LLC or the writer. Either way, I would like to have a lot more explanation on the "refined" mechanics, and just what makes throwing a baseball overhand "low-stress," for anyone. Both terms beg for explanation, but somehow, I don't think any is forthcoming. Herein lies the danger of the stat-geek. Armed with numbers that are sometimes revealing and helpful, but often quite misleading, I'm serioulsy hoping we're not equating data with the reality of the ball field, and not certifying experts in biomechanics based on quoted quotes that came from quotes of other quoted quotes of numbers.

Maybe we're getting confused with the stock market here, but even so, that is what is really going on with Lohse. A business deal is being analyzed, albeit with a nonsense stack of numbers that guarantee nothing.

Let's keep it real, huh? Lohse has done a great job while all the stats in the world couldn't throw those pitches for Ace Carp or Ace Waino. And we're simply believing that Lohse will continue to do a good job for four more years. And Lohse is no ace, either. In fact, the Cardinals have an ace no more than they have a closer.

Or, look at it this way: Would you give Lohse's four-year deal to any of the other pitchers on the staff? Just wondering.

There are others who need to be signed, obviously; both in-house and out-, hmm, not in-house.

Be careful with the stats, though, as stats are a tool, and not the actual player. Stats are yesterday; performance is today. Stats are data; players are human. Therefore, the player is much more dynamic than, let's say, those stocks. Future prediction based on past performance, remember, is the tool of the salesman. Tendencies are playing the odds, which is much more useful as a form of a stat.

Lohse, human. Numbers, old news. Forty-one million (now those are numbers), belief.

Example: Ryan Dempster of the Cubs completely busts the stats out of the water. According to the stats, no one need attend the Game #1 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Dempster is a robot with better numbers than the robots in Dodger Blue, after all. Then, the human, James Loney, disproves the rule and lofts a granny into what I suppose is a brand new stat column.

Hey, stats are fun after all. Grands slams by left handed swingers from the NL on cool evenings near Lake Michigan with a variable wind when Lou Piniella sits with arms crossed and Larry Rothschild is scratching his head and Manny Ramirez is scratching his, well, stats can be gross too, I suppose.

So how about we let Lohse pitch this coming season? And we'll study the human nature of the man, pitching mechanics, and what makes things work and not work and all the real baseball discussions.