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In the the New York Times Magazine, Pat Jordan writes about flamethrowers (registration required) like Bobby Jenks, Steve Dalkowski, Kerry Wood and Billy Wagner, beginning with this observation.

The year 2003 may go down as the year the stat geeks won over organized baseball, converting the evaluation of talent from art into science.

The author, a big fan of scouts and "stuff" who apparently hasn't seen as much of Billy Koch as we have, feels compelled to take one more swipe.

The stat geeks are officially neutral on the importance of the 100-m.p.h. pitch -- whether an out is recorded off a blazing fastball or a fluttering knuckler makes no difference to them. And they are leery of old-school scouts who tend to be overly impressed with rudimentary gifts like velocity, while overlooking the other skills that make a major-league pitcher successful.

Leery? I think it's the other way around. Somebody sounds worried about SABR-rattlers.
The Jays, going for their fifth win in a row, can even their home record at 37-37 by completing the sweep today. Don't expect a pitcher's duel. Cory Lidle, just playing out the string in a mostly unhappy season, wasn't very good against Tampa on Tuesday. He's not helping his free agent cause.

Matt Riley gets the last-minute nod for Baltimore in place of scheduled starter Rodrigo Lopez. The southpaw made three forgettable starts as a 20-year-old in 1999 and has been in the minors since; he was 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 13 starts for AAA Ottawa, striking out 77 and walking 28 in 70.1 IP. This is a tough assignment for the rookie, against Carlos Tosca's "lefty-proof" lineup, featuring the almost-forgotten Tom Wilson in a rare appearance behind the plate.

Pete Walker will start in Detroit on Tuesday; does this mean Mark Hendrickson is now in the bullpen? As I suggested a while ago, they will give Doc one extra day of rest this week; it sets him up to open the next home stand and make his last start on the final weekend.
In case you missed it, the Oakland GM took Baseball Prospecutus reader questions yesterday, including one from a BB regular. Gerry asked how much of the A's success in developing pitchers is due to good drafting, minor league coaching, the players' internal makeup, and luck. Beane's reply:

A little bit of everything that you mentioned. We also try and minimize economic and health risk by drafting college pitchers. We also feel that because they are older and more experienced, college pitchers have a tendency to give you better early results when they enter the Major Leagues. A small market team has to get as much production as possible during the first three years before a player hits arbitration. Remember, young players are good because they are cost effective. If we can't afford them it doesn't matter how old they are.

Just another reminder that the BP Pizza Feed is only two weeks away. Hope to see you there.
In the National Post, John Lott chats with Meat Loaf, a visitor at last night's game. Turns out even J.P. is a fan, who can quote the famous Phil Rizzuto passage from memory.

"Senior year in high school," Ricciardi said as he shook hands with Meat Loaf yesterday. "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."

The singer's inning in the radio booth last night was delightful. Mike Wilner teased his broadcast partners by saying "anyone from 28 to 48 knows Mr. Loaf," but the venerable Tom Cheek quickly reminded listeners he was a former DJ who still knew his music. Cheek filled in the essential play-by-play while his guest, obviously a great fan, offered some entertaining commentary.

There was a sound bite on TV last night in which Pat Hentgen was asked if he was "quietly" rooting for Roy Halladay's continued success. "No, I'm openly rooting for him," replied the first Jay to win a Cy Young award.

In his column today, celebrating their similarities, Richard Griffin called a pre-game meeting between the two righties "a nice torch-passing moment," and obviously respects both men.

Of all the Blue Jays' aces over the past decade, Hentgen and Halladay resemble each other the most the kind of people you would want your sons to grow up to be like.

The Orioles, rumoured to be shopping for high-ticket items like Vladimir Guerrero this winter, might not exercise their $4 million option for 2004 on Hentgen, who Griffin suggests would like to finish his career in his hometown of Detroit. I'd be very happy if he returned to Toronto; he's 5-2 with a 2.85 ERA in his last 11 starts, fully recovered at last from the Tommy John surgery he required in 2001, and would be a wonderful mentor for Doc and the other young hurlers.
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Josh Towers doesn't like the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays righty resents the way he was cast aside, and appreciates his chance for revenge tonight. How do I know? Mike Wilner said so on The FAN 590. The most reliable and entertaining source of Blue Jays information in the "real" media, Wilner will be stepping into Da Box in an upcoming interview.

In his last two starts, Towers has a seven-inning, 4-hit shutout against the Tigers and a complete game 6-hitter vs. the Mariners. With a similar effort tonight, he'll solidify his claim on a 2004 rotation spot; he's already shown enough to make the team as a swing man. He's throwing a much harder fastball than I remember in 2001, and challenging hitters with a lot of strikes. It's been fun to watch; I was right behind the plate for the adrenalin-charged ninth inning against Seattle.

With Eric DuBose on the mound for the O's, Carlos Tosca employs what Wilner called his "lefty-proof" lineup: Dave Berg's bat is at 2B instead of the O-Dawg's glove. Eric Hinske drops to seventh in the order; SS Mike Bordick hits second. Kevin Cash, Towers' personal receiver, is behind the plate, but his great arm and footwork don't justify a .136 average. Bobby Kielty, more of a masher from the right side, is in the 6-hole behind Josh Phelps.
Fifth in a 10-part series

"A Jays team once led by Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar, George Bell, Tony Fernandez and Devon White was for years known to be as diverse as the city it represents. That is no longer the case."
... "Whitest Team in the Majors" by Geoff Baker for the Toronto Star


Let's get some things out of the way.
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The Jays are enjoying a 7-3 month, and they face an Orioles team that appears to be prone to lapsing into its annual late-season swoon. On the hitting side, the O's haven't been very healthy or productive of late -- with Larry Bigbie a notable exception. However, in Eric DuBose and Pat Hentgen, the Jays lock horns with a couple of hot hurlers. Ex-Oriole Josh Towers will hopefully channel his extra motivation constructively tonight.

The Orioles are in an interesting spot, thanks to some shrewd dealings by their two-headed "Beatagan" front-office monster. Baltimore has much more young pitching in the system than they had when the season started, and they enjoy tremendous payroll flexibility for an offseason shopping spree that won't even implicate the luxury tax, thanks to the team's wise clearing of the books this year.

Peter Angelos says he wants to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in 2004. Hopefully, the home team will take this weekend's opportunity to remind him that there's another AL East hurdle in his path.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Patriot looks at a variety of run estimators using basic data (excluding SF, SH , GIDP etc). The results aren't particularly surprising: on a team-seasonal basis, all the estimators are in the same ballpark (in terms of RMSE); Base Runs is not any less accurate and is perhaps a little more accurate on a team-seasonal basis.

Tangotiger's comments are contained in the Primate Studies section at Baseball Primer. He suggested creating a best-fit formula for all odd-numbered years (sample A) for each method and then testing it on the even-numbered years (sample B). The reasoning there was that if a formula was really vaild on a team-seasonal basis, the loss of accuracy when going from the "best-fitted" sample to a completely different sample would not be great. Patriot tested Base Runs against the linear best-fit model for sample A and found the former to be slightly more accurate on sample B.
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...for the Blue Jays' last remaining minor-league playoff team, the New Haven Ravens. Dustin McGowan was rocked for 6 runs (though only 3 were earned) in 4 innings (6 H, 4 BB, 3 Ks), and Sandy Nin followed by digging the hole a little deeper: in 2 innings, he allowed 3 runs (though only 1 was earned -- the defence made three costly errors last night) on 3 hits, but walked no one and struck out 4. These young pitchers' late-season difficulties should come as no surprise: it's the end of a long year that started for both of them back in A-Ball. No one's star is shining less brightly today as a result.

New Haven's big bats made a game of it, though, scoring 7 unanswered runs from the 6th inning onwards, but it wasn't enough. The resurgent Dominic Rich and Anthony Sanders each had 3 hits, while Russ Adams chipped in with 2 hits and 2 RBI. Even the amazing (I think that's a fair description) Guillermo Quiroz doubed and drove in a run. Some better defence and the Ravens might have tied this series up; as it is, they're down 2-0 and staring at elimination. David Bush is now all that stands between New Haven and the off-season.
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Fourth in a 10-part series

Editor's Note: For many people and in many ways, today is a solemn day. And tomorrow we dive back into the most controversial and serious of topics ever covered by Batter's Box, the "White Jays" issue. So today, forgive us as we move ahead with a light-hearted, sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at that other most serious of topics: sabermetrics.

Mark Twain once wrote, "There's three kinds of lies. Them's lies, damned lies ... and statistics." And if you didn't know, ol' Sam Clemens made his name as a writer in the newspaper business. So you have to figure he knew what he was talking about, hey?

Anyway, the titanic clash between sabermetric believers -- those Rich Griffin has tagged "the Zombie-Like Cult" -- and the "baseball guys" championed by Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and his old-school cronies may never reach the pop-culture status of, say, a hit Broadway musical.

Then again ...
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It's a shame that this matinee isn't on ordinary TV in Canada. I'm following along on MLB Gameday with one eye on the AL Central showdown in Chi-town (Loaiza v Radke).

Can Doc close the statistical gap between himself and the #1 Cy Young contender? Stay tuned.
Ceremonies will take place at a number of ballparks across the United States today on the second anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001; the ones scheduled for New York appear to be particularly thoughtful. The Jays are on the road in Tampa Bay, of course, where they'll be part of a rather military-themed event involving the director of U.S. Central Command. We've been living in troubled times the last two years, and not just between enemies; open rancour has crept into relations between Canadians and Americans. It doesn't belong there; whatever our political differences, we have far more in common as people, not to mention a lengthy history as good friends.

So here's a wish that we all remember the bonds that were cemented in Canadian airports and in American hearts two years ago today, and that one nation will recognize that the sharpest criticism can come from your closest friend, while another will recognize that true class is about respect for a neighbour's pain and support for their courage in the face of terrible adversity that they weather on our behalf too. Prayers, wishes, or plain good words -- send some out today.
In today's Star, Richard Griffin says his once-beloved team has annoyed its reluctant owners by resisting another split schedule.

Commissioner Bud Selig and friends have gone from being amused at the Expos' hopeless situation to being angry at them for balking at a request to repeat the awkward two-home format.

Griffin suggests that 2004 will be a complete farce if the players don't agree to repeat the brutal travel that finally seems to have exhausted their playoff bid.

The worst-case scenario for Selig is that the Expos are forced to play all 81 games in Montreal. With that, the payroll will likely drop to under $20 million, meaning a probable au revoir to Minaya, manager Frank Robinson and players making more than $2 million.

In the radio prank that fooled Bud a couple of weeks ago, he called the situation "mission impossible" and trashed the former minority owners. If the Commissioner wants to see what's really "appalling" about this mess, he should look in the mirror.
Maybe Lou's boys sold their souls in exchange for this mastery of the Jays. Tampa is 33 games under .500 against everyone else, but seven games over against Toronto. It was getting ridiculous a long time ago, and sadly, there's no reason to expect any change tonight.

Jorge Sosa is coming off the best game of his life, a 4-hit shutout of the Mariners. Mark Hendrickson hasn't survived the fifth in his last three starts, allowing 22 hits and 14 runs in his last 10.2 innings. I've been one of Lurch's most patient supporters, but even I am starting to believe his time in the rotation is running out. He still could be an asset in the 2004 bullpen.

The Rays have won three in a row and five of six. The Jays were on a decent roll themselves, until lackluster efforts by Kelvim Escobar and Cory Lidle seemed to affect the whole team's attitude. A solid start will help turn things around, so we may have to wait until tomorrow afternoon.

Strangely, Frank Catalanotto (.462 OBP vs. Sosa) isn't in the lineup. Neither is Greg Myers, but I'll never complain about Phelps as DH, and Josh has hit very well in this park. Kevin Cash's glove is keeping Crash's bat on the bench; that's sacrificing the present for the future.