The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Quote of the Week

I always enjoy Baseball Prospectus’s Week in Quotes. It’s a free article each week, so you should check it out, even if you don’t subscribe to their site. This week’s edition had a quote that I found particularly humorous:
"People just dismiss Burnitz - 'He strikes out a lot. He can't do this, he can't do that.’ If you look at it objectively, he was sixth in the game in slugging percentage of people who struck out more than 120 times. He hit .307 with men on base. He hits left-handers well. He hit .287 with men in scoring position. To me, he's not striking out at the wrong times. The analysis is being done." --Cubs GM Jim Hendry, on new right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, who ranked sixth in the game in the new SPPWSOMT120x statistic (Arlington Heights Daily Herald)
This is so meaty that it’s hard to choose where to start. The first comparison Hendry makes is to stack Burnitz up against other “sluggers” who strike out a lot. On the surface, being sixth in this group sounds somewhat impressive because you’re probably thinking that some real power hitters struck out 120 times or more last year.

However, this list includes such luminaries as Alex Gonzalez (the Marlins version), Royce Clayton, Bobby Crosby, Corey Patterson, and Mark Bellhorn (amongst many others - 35 major leaguers, or more than one per team on average – struck out at least 120 times).

Needless to say, the list isn’t overly impressive. Sure, there are some sluggers on the list (Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome, and Jim Edmonds jump right off the page) and other players (like Pat Burrell and Mike Cameron) didn’t exactly have years that lived up to expectations.

More than anything though, Hendry’s comment completely overlooks the fact that Burnitz played half of his games last year in the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field. If this doesn’t give an automatic lift to your slugging percentage, then nothing will. And if the Cubs are expecting Burnitz to slug the ball at the rate that he did with the Rockies last year, they’re very likely in for an unhappy surprise.

The other part of this quote that jumped out at me was Hendry’s statement that “the analysis is being done.” It’s just my opinion, but I think the Cubs might have been better served to do this sort of analysis before they signed Burnitz to his $5 million contract. The dollar value of this contract isn’t as great as some to be sure, but having done the analysis in advance of offering the contract could have helped to prevent the Cubs from negatively affecting the Tribune’s financials again.


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