How the M’s Can Win the World Series @ BP

DMZ · March 19, 2007 at 11:45 am · Filed Under Mariners 

My contribution to BP’s Hope and Faith series is up. Unfortunately for the teeming masses (unless you don’t like my writing, then I’d be curious why you were here), it’s subscriber-only. Check it out if you can.

This offers an opportunity to say a couple of things. I don’t think I’ve ever really said more about leaving BP than “we had a difference in the direction of the business” and I don’t think I’m going to ever say more. I’ve contributed after I left, I’m still friends with some of the guys, and I’m proud of the work I did there, both writing for the book projects and on the site. I grew as a baseball writer immensely while I was part of that group, and I owe them a lot, no matter how it turned out.

Which is why I read a comment in the new book (Raul Ibanez) and flipped out, because it seemed like there were two things there intended to knife me specifically, to reduce all the contributions I made to one comment and then use that comment as a reason for to fire me.

And now there are two things:
– Many other people who read it thought that too
– That is not what it was even if many other people who read it thought that too

I railed in private on Steve Goldman for letting it through (Steve, to his credit, was great through this whole thing, and I would do well to try and be as calm and understanding). Goldman told me that it was totally a joke, he probably put it there in editing, it wasn’t a slight, and as much as I respect Steve, I was so angry that I thought that someone else put the dig in there and he didn’t catch the meaning because he didn’t know the history.

I am (obviously) not proud of this, but I was entirely livid for almost a day, and it wasn’t at all helped by having other people react the same way, or pick the book up and flip out on my behalf, or hearing from people even in BP that had the same reaction.

Dave, as you may have seen, took up the cause publicly while I, trying to calm down, finished the article which runs on Prospectus today. At the time, I was determined that I’d polish it up and submit it to fulfill my promise to Christina Kahrl, and figure out what, if anything I’d do later. I know, it seems a little nutty now. But it helped.

Later, of course, research and clearer heads prevailed: the comment being mocked wasn’t even mine, Goldman did the insert during editing, that author’s still there, so even as a joke it’s not true. Goldman even apologized for the unintentional consequence that it could and was being read as.

So there’s a thing, and if you look at it knowing I wrote the M’s chapters for most of my time there, and especially if you know something about my exit, it looks like someone I disagreed with made a really nasty cut. If you’re me, you might see red for a day before you can calm down, because it read like a mockery and dismissal of my work there combined with a break in the cordial post-departure relations we’ve had.

I had my problems with BP – obviously, since I left – but that’s that. I continue to read their stuff, I point people to good research published there, I love PECOTA, and my friends there are still (I hope) my friends. I don’t criticize them for their failings because I figure you can get that elsewhere and, really, I don’t want to. Leaving was painful, and I want to be on good terms more than I want to continue fights I conceded years ago and moved on from.

That said, and I realize I haven’t said this publicly – I’ve apologized to Dave repeatedly about the whole thing, because I feel like I let him pick the public fight, and you saw the results. I rehashed that in an earlier post, but I’m sorry about how things went. While I regret almost everything that happened that day, we should all be so blessed to have such concerned and loyal friends.

To sum up:
– The M’s have to be pretty lucky to win the World Series
– That Ibanez comment isn’t intended as a dig at me
– My reaction reveals I can be ridiculously sensitive about my time at BP and my departure

I hope that I have an article up there testifies to the state of relations.


15 Responses to “How the M’s Can Win the World Series @ BP”

  1. lokiforever on March 19th, 2007 12:10 pm

    I was a little take when the BP quote was first discussed and the ire it generated…unable to tell if the quote was a light harded jab, or a serious knifing.

    Now, Derek, I applaud your self awareness, humility, and of course, your deft writing.

  2. terry on March 19th, 2007 12:12 pm

    Very nice writeup…. i’m mostly just hoping for a pennant race… for that the daydreams don’t have to be so titillating. In other words:

    They want his 70th percentile PECOTA projection, not that they would phrase it like that.


  3. Josh on March 19th, 2007 12:27 pm

    Thanks, Derek.

    I had a month-long subscription back around Jan., but never re-subbed. Was able to download the MP3 though (didn’t know they had that), so hopefully that will hold the entire thing.

    Looking forward to listening to it later today.

  4. vj on March 19th, 2007 12:34 pm

    Seems like that’s a different Derek on the MP3 or is Derek Jacques a pseudonym?

  5. doorbot on March 19th, 2007 12:42 pm

    I was wondering if something would be put up about this article. I read it this morning, and liked the style as usual. It’s my favorite of the BP series so far, but then it was the only one I was looking forward to seeing. I especially loved the repeated, “They want his 90th percentile PECOTA projection, not that they would phrase it like that.” A sense of hopelessness couched in snarky-ness?

    Cult of Doyle update:
    Today, 1-1, 3 BBs; one of them of the bases-loaded variety (against a wild Broxton though). Also went first-to-third on a single. Lone hit was a single. Might have another PA coming, as the Nats are trying to bat around this inning.

  6. Jim Thomsen on March 19th, 2007 1:36 pm

    What’s depressing about Derek’s acute analysis is that much of the same reasoning could have been applied to 2006:

    — They want Carl Everett’s 90th percentile PECOTA projection;

    — They want Jarrod Washburn’s 90th percentile PECOTA projection;

    — They want Jeremy Reed’s 90th percentile PECOTA projection.

    And on and on and on. It’s depressing that the Mariners haven’t learned at all from last year — that they can’t round up a bunch of aging mediocrities whose best years are well in their pasts and skew their analyses to support a contorted belief that “if they do what they were once capable of, we can win.” It shows that the institutional thinking in the front office hasn’t evolved a bit since the signings of Rich Aurilia and Scott Spiezio.

    So if Batista, Weaver, Reitsma, Vidro, etc. fail, I guess it’ll be the players’ fault for not performing as the Mariners hoped they would … and not the Mariners’ fault for hoping for something that was never likely to happen.

    That is awesomely powerful denial at work, folks.

  7. Cynical Optimist on March 19th, 2007 1:42 pm

    Well said, Jim.

  8. CCW on March 19th, 2007 1:53 pm

    We saw in 2001 what can happen when an entire team does hit its 90th percentile PECOTA’s, though. I don’t have a copy of my BP 2001 handy, but something tells me Boone, Abbott, Sele, Cameron, Ichiro, MacLemore, Javier, Rhodes, Nelson, Wilson, Bell, and Kaz, all were around the 90% range. I’ve always had a suspicion that 2001 has been biting us ever since it ended.

  9. carcinogen on March 19th, 2007 2:36 pm

    Jim, its even more insidious. We all want 90% PECOTA from all the players, the M’s expect it and plan around it.

  10. carcinogen on March 19th, 2007 2:38 pm

    Thought exercise of the day: imagine the collective M’s front office as a single contestant on “Deal or No Deal.”

  11. Evan on March 19th, 2007 4:30 pm

    What caught my eye in the artcle was the tagline at the bottom that identified you as “an author of Baseball Prospectus”. I figured they’d at least have pointed readers here.

  12. Ralph Malph on March 19th, 2007 4:37 pm

    I’m not defending their point of view, but I’m sure the M’s would say they simply don’t accept the PECOTA projections; they make their own projections and they have a different methodology.

  13. Oly Rainiers Fan on March 19th, 2007 4:57 pm

    #12, perhaps. Maybe they’re using a methodology that’s just way less accurate than PECOTA. You know, like the M’s methodology would say Player A is performing at 50% while PECOTA would peg that same performance from Player A to be a 90%.

    And then, after trades and acquisitions don’t work out, all those meetings in Safeco are filled with people saying things like ‘I don’t understand, we’re going with the 50/50 chance yet it always seems like it just doesn’t work out’….

    (So much bleed between this and the trade evaluation thread.)

  14. Sidi on March 19th, 2007 6:51 pm

    I think we’re all afraid about what a former employer says/feels about us. I’m still terrified about what one of mine says, and it has limited my aggressiveness in trying to settle my life. And I’m not trained in quite as insular employment as sports journalism. It probably wasn’t a direct dig.

  15. rick m on March 22nd, 2007 12:51 pm


    I think Geoff’s making stuff up. He writes, “Where some fans are concerned…” Really? What fans? Why not name some names, e.g.,

    “I spent some time talking to fans today. ‘Willie’s my favorite player,’ said Billy Bob Brown of Lacey, Washington, ‘and he’s so hot right now, he should be our new leadoff hitter!’ Well, Billy Bob, according to Manager Mike Hargrove, it isn’t as easy as that.”

    Is Baker really running into fans down there who think like this? I think he’s making assumptions – not really doing any real journalism here. Like Kelley’s piece its our mythical “Arodhater” making his appearance. I’m sure Geoff can find a fan or two who thinks like this – most likely some 10 year olds. But what I smell here is more of this fear among the paid media that their opinions are becoming irrelevant and so they need to create some straw men to tear down.

    Why do I think this? Because I don’t read any articles by these guys regarding how intelligent and well informed the average Seattle fan is becoming. It’s easier to paint the impression that the fans are a bunch of bozos who need smart baseball writers to walk them through the obvious things about training camp. It’s lazy journalism that creates its own reality: fans need us to know how to think. And I read it in a paper that still struggles to find a place to put OBP in the daily statistics.

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