Spending way, way, way too much time reading my baseball-centric twitter feed, I will occasionally have the honor of witness great 'Tweeting Wars'. Those are awesome. I wish I had one here for y'all today. But nope, you get to read an amazing discussion between some of the best baseball minds the public sphere has to offer, I promise you will be smarter and a better person for having read this. It took place Friday about 1 AM, and was primarily between Kevin Goldstein and Joe Sheehan. Goldstein, of Baseball Prospectus, is a smart guy with a ton of connections and regularly talks to players and management, while Sheehan is, for my money, the best independent baseball thinker around right now and he was an original founder of Baseball Prospectus who now writes for Sports Illustrated.
Below the break-
Below the break-
It started out innocuous enough:
I want to be the Dennis Eckersley of Twitter.
A couple more tweets between Sheehan and others about the fact he believed the 'closer mentality' was a myth and therefore did not matter. To which KG responded...
Pitching is overwhelmingly about stuff and ability, but I refuse to think they're all robots who are completely unaffected by the situation.
Joe's response to the degree of existence-
For the readers' information, Antonio Bastardo is an inferior Phillies' reliever who faced the middle of the opponent's lineup, while Phillies' superior pitcher Jon Papelbon meddled against the bottom of the order hitters in the 9th.
Some might find getting outs in the ninth of a 3-1 game more difficult than 4-3 game in the 8th. Some might not.
To which I interject: Could pitchers not find comfort in having roles based on leverage and situation rather than inning?
I believe that flipping roles where guys go in the 7th inning one day, the 9th the next, etc, based on a concept of leverage would be ugly. I think relievers like to know their roles and have comfort in them. I think uncomfortable ones would be less effective and thus the break. It's the actual roles that are the problem.
Boog Sciambi, who enters here, is an ESPN TV commentator. Smart dude.
Even A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy jumped in, with a sort of tangent-
Note that in a rational usage setting, we'd probably have fewer pitching changes and warmups, so less dry-humping relievers. I'm the outside guy, but impression is that would be a huge net gain for work conditions that could offset some other stuff.
Almost seems like I might have made this case in a previous blog post... hmmmmm...
Dave Schoenfield, who's all over the ESPN MLB pages had been in the convo for awhile, but I didn't include most of his contributions, but here's this:
For what it's worth, I once asked John Wetteland why the ninth inning is different. Thought he was going to tear my head off. "It just is."
An interesting point here that Sheehan makes a lot. Citing confirmation bias in the insistence of former closers that there is a rare closer's mentality.
So, it kind of died off from there, but I think you can learn A TON from reading this, about bullpens, closers, usage and all kinds of other good stuff.
**The linearity of the discussion was tough to track, but I did my best to keep it in some sort of order.