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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Review of a review: Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

More than once in the past, I had thought about attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, but never took the leap. The annual event, held in Boston, occurs at the time of year when my thoughts are more directed toward Major League Baseball spring training games getting underway.

It feels like a hot stove event that would be more suitable in January, but then again, this comes from the perspective of a baseball writer. The Conference, while perhaps baseball-centric, includes speakers and topics from all the major sports.

I caught a few stray tweets from event participants this past weekend, though most seemed to originate from admirers of Bill James, quoting the gospel from the sabermetric guru now employed by the Boston Red Sox.

Looking for a more comprehensive review of the proceedings, I ran across an excellent recap from a writer named Evan Brunell at opposingviews.com. For those interested in the business side of baseball, I recommend you give it a read.

Highlights include agent Scott Boras explaining how he and the clubs with which he negotiates use metrics. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow discusses his deployment of analytics while with St. Louis and his plans to move Houston ahead in that area.

New studies on predicting next pitches to be thrown, what is following the groundbreaking PITCHf/x system and a look at natural alternatives to steroids through identifying deficiencies via blood testing are also reviewed.

The article concludes with Boras (and James) predictably blasting the new restrictions on spending for both amateur talent and international free agents.

Just maybe I will make time to attend next year…

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42 Responses to “Review of a review: Sloan Sports Analytics Conference”

  1. friendmouse says:

    If you go, I’d wager that you’ll find few humble folks in your midst. Humility does not seem to be a virtue with this ilk…more of a “We know it all; you know nuthin’” attitude. But, I could be wrong. :)

    • Brian Walton says:

      Wonder how different that mix would be from players or club officials – or even sportswriters, for that matter!

      • friendmouse says:

        Obviously, no good way to measure (well, maybe the Sabremetrics guys could find a way!), but my impression is that, in your list, ranking from “higher humility” to “lowest humility,” I’d rank them this way…
        1. players (14% are humble sorts)
        2. club officials (8% humble)
        3. sportswriters (7% humble)
        4. MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference folks (< 1% humble).

        And it has taken me an inordinate amount of time to do the research here! :)

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Good to see Stock persuaded to try pitching again. Conversion to the mound worked for Jason Motte and the Carpenter catcher we traded to the Astros, so pitching might work out for Stock as well. His conversion also frees up more playing time for our other catching prospects!

  3. T8Ball says:

    No Puma, two games in a row. Getting the youth some playing time. I’m grasping here. Anyone with an update on Lance?

  4. blingboy says:

    Lance and Rafy better watch out. Matheny didn’t waste any time giving Swagerty the heave-ho for laying around on the trainer’s table. Play through the pain like real men. Builds character.

    I saw where Colby went two for two the other day. Looked like screemers in the box score.
    The washed up turncoat whose name cannot be mentioned also got a couple. Looked like squibbers.

    • T8Ball says:

      I guess I missed that one about Swaggerty. What happened?

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      Berkman got informed yesterday ………………… Matt Adams is someone they want to introduce …….. thats Mo’s focus ………………. I like him at the plate ……………. 0 chance he makes the team….but Matheny doesn’t know that ……………………… Lance expected a few AB’s yesterday …………… he sees what they’re about ……………….. I’m just curious as to who gets on the bus to back Waino …. ………………………watched AP play ………… he stopped by the owners box to shake a few hands,,,,,,, he is lording over his new domain ……… His bat position is superior… much less lower body activity to,,,,,,,,, he looks a little lighter ……. he is effecting all the players around him……..in a positive way ………… he is feeding ……………….. seeing him amongst professional players is different ……. I’m hoping that we get down to business before long………………

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Its only spring training, yet happily Westie is already in playoff form in terms of over-interpreting the tea-leaves. Some of his dots were bolded. That’s nice presentation, to mix up the fonts. Looking smart, man.

      • RCWarrior says:

        Albert looked focused and like a hustling rookie to me WC. Obviously Albert had been allowed to play with a little less passion when he felt the need to play with less passion while under TLR’s management. Now you see what it looks like when Albert busts it. It was refreshing to me to see the new Albert. He is going to have a huge year imo.

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          Probably, but as soon as he feels comfortable in his role in a year or two will his attitude revert back to what it was as a cardinal? And possibly without the physical tools still intact to overcome that attitude?

          • RCWarrior says:

            I’m not sure CC, see I view it from a teaching or coaching perspective. Students or players will do what you allow them to do just like your kids for that matter. You know the old give them an inch and they’ll take a mile saying?

            Now maybe Tony knew better than any of us what he had to do to motivate Albert. Who can argue with the results? I did write earlier about how fun it will be to watch Albert this year being under a different manager and see how he will respond.

            In the end its just nitpicking to really worry about Albert or Yadi jogging down the line on sure ground outs, or sure pop ups. Its just something to complain about…..and I say that knowing I have mentioned it along with others.

            • blingboy says:

              There’s no such thing as a sure ground out. Ask Buckner. Besides, you get into the habit you’ll end up doing it when it matters.

              • RCWarrior says:

                No argument on any word you just wrote Bling, but Albert was a great baseball player and not running out a ground out, when your manager allows such behavior, is not a reason for me personally to think badly of Albert. He has other qualities that are much higher on the totem pole. :)

                I had a player last year who was a stud but was a pot head. I tried and tried to get him to stop. Then I started a line of punishment and lo and behold I find out that the kids mom provides it to the kid and that the mom smokes it with the kid. It was hard for me to punish him further because the behavior was a learned behavior from his parent.

                Similarly when a 15 year old kid is late to practice I have a problem punishing him………The kid can’t drive yet and I can’t with a good conscience, punish him for his mom’s lazy behavior.

                Imo Albert was allowed to do what he did, so he did it. Whether he is allowed that same type of leeway in Anaheim remains to be seen.

                • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                  Nice thread boys…………… AP’s weakness has always been excess…….. his love of self flagellation will alarm his teammates/competitors ……………. if Soccia doesn’t jump on him first,,,guarding this vulnerability……….Albert’s own blood in the water will set off a feeding frenzy in ego retributions by his teammates ………… I see signs that he is being coached though at this point ……………….. Angels look strong ………….. inevitably, Albert’s spiritual quest/investigation will lead him to martyrdom …………. unless he elects a more modest lifestyle/goals……………………… but right now……..with the Cardinals struggling…………. his deportment…….and what the media is allowing themselves to believe…is really something to see…………. if there were any reminders around him …Molina/Tony…. that he might just claim the dunghill of team alpha male…. with all its Dominican privileges………. he wouldn’t last very long……………. there may be a shrine………with flowers and a cross appearing outside angel stadium before long………. and thats no joke…………… notice that Matheny has promised to use his power team coming up tomorrow……… and the reversal of the Berkman story about Monday’s benching ………………… I hope that guy saves himself…….he seems a worthy guy….his weakness is/will be Mo/BD………..in the end………..

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        As soon as the vault was opened for Yadi, Berkman already knew he most likely wasn’t going to be back next year.

        And yes, Matheny knows Adams isn’t making the team. I know that and I’m clueless (remember?).

        • blingboy says:

          Maybe we’ll see salami boy later in the season.

        • RCWarrior says:

          Berkman could still find his way back for a one year deal…..don’t you think CC? At this point in his career maybe he will take less money to take a few more shots at a WS title and it appears that St. Louis should be in the mix for at the very least the next 2 or 3 years.

          • Brian Walton says:

            My money would be on Luhnow signing Berkman to end his career back home. It would be a smart PR move for several reasons, including a fan base upset about the move to the AL West and the need for a DH for 130 games instead of 30 starting next year.

            • blingboy says:

              There would be no point blocking Craig/Adams anyway. And Lance will be better off with a DH team by then. I’ll enjoy him this year though. Seems like he’s been a key ingredient. His presense should help get us over the wierdness of not having Albert ensconsed in the three hole and playing 1B.

              I understand from a friend that the org is really taking a close look at Jackson, Wong and Taveras this spring. Not for making the team out of camp of course.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              Lance said he wants to work in baseball……………. he is too smart to admit that would mean managing……… I’m sure all is contingent on what type of year he has……….. here is the problem….. the guy is a legendary gamer in my mind…… what he accomplished last year was remarkable to say the least ………… Luhnow is a smart cookie…….he is eying more than just Berkman…….he has profiled BD/Mo like no other probably …..(save for WC)……… he is going to know when they are going to cash in a few assets to avoid cash transactions………… he will trying to hook them up now that he is leaving the division …….. If Berkman stays health, he will dominate this team…..which is good ……….. the question is …………… will he be impeded …………… will Mo/BD begin grooming for the highest profit margin???? they have to be cocky after what they just pulled of ……………….. those 2yr deals to Beltran and Furcal are what they had to pay………in order to attempt to stay off of the AP barbecue spit …………… one way or another…….the game has already started…….

          • CariocaCardinal says:

            Only if he’ll take $10 million max and the Cards go with an unproven #4 and #5 – or the Cards go to $115 – $120 MM. But your friend Westie tells me the master plan is to cut payroll not raie it so that seems unlikely. They could trade Furcal I guess if they think Jackson is ready but that seems unlikely as well.

  5. Brian Walton says:

    Mets GM fires back at Boras: link.

    • RCWarrior says:

      It sounds like both guys are representing the interests of their clients.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Its an indirect attack on the Commissioner …………. there is so much dirty money tied up the stadium financing at Citi Field …………….. at the same time Selig in working with Fox in Scotty’s back yard …… just a few warning shots …………….

  6. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/edmonds-joins-camp-unsure-of-where-he-might-fit-in/article_1b91a2ac-6881-11e1-b281-0019bb30f31a.html

    Very interesting dynamic here…………………… if Edmonds just shuts up………. he is the future 3rd base coach……………… the fact that he is struggling with that, his senses unaccustomed to the present environment………tells you a little something ……….. about the present environment ………. a reminder to some …………. that there are still hostages……………

  7. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/white-sox-observer/2011/07/white-sox-trade-edwin-jackson-in-mundane-deal-to-shed-salary-and-theyre-not-done/

    See if you can digest some of this……………….. trace each of the players that were part of this deal….tie in TLR relationship to the WSox ownership …………….. this is what an ownership initiated trade looks like …………….. for money………because they know intimate details of the other teams issues……. even 3.5 games back………WS are already planning for next year…..with a new coach……. they are trying to save 10 million……….. and they know a way to accomplish that………….. Kenny Williams is never more than an errand boy here………. Just like when Reinsdorf brought in Dunn……..

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