Monday, May 21, 2007

Reader Beware!

During the course of the season you have the opportunity to read some irresponsible coverage and wild speculation on behalf of many "published writers". I am curious if the written material is designed for entertainment, or information. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon a fairly good example from USATODAY.com/Rotoworld attempting to forecast future closers.(http://fantasysports.usatoday.com/content/column.asp?sport=&storyid=28253)

I begin by giving the author some respect as he acknowledges the risk in forecasting relief pitchers into the 2010 season. Unlike most authors, he discloses an expected low success rate.

However, why would you predict closers into the 2010 season? You would, arguably, be more accurate trying to predict the weather for May of 2010.

Who could have foreseen Philadelphia moving their ace (Myers) to closer? Forecasting Bobby Jenks (shortly after being cut earlier in the year) emerging as the White Sox closer en route to their World Series victory was impossible. Just this week the Cubs temporarily moved Dempster back to the rotation, then back into the role as closer.

Over one year ago, only a die hard knew of Papelbon, and this die hard only knew him as a great starting pitcher prospect. If I asked you at this time last year, could you correctly guess the Cardinals World Series closer "if" the Cardinals were to win the World Series?

Does the forecast account for injury risk? Following the 2004 season Gagne appeared to be the closer ad infinitum, but has been limited to 22.6 innings since. Is it unreasonable to believe Zumaya will not fully recover from his ruptured tendon? If Zumaya does recover, is it more reasonable, or unreasonable, to assume he would be as effective post-injury?

Why do we believe, with great certainty mind you, an injury like Zumaya's is easily overcome in a matter of weeks?

Injury risk, performance risk, managerial decision risk, trade risk and luck are great factors extremely challenging to predict. Meanwhile, my proposal would be to simply rank the top pitching prospects for each organization with an expected major league arrival projection. Even this approach remains grossly inaccurate.

Admittedly I appreciate the authors efforts reviewing team contingencies upon the event their "current" closer does get hurt, traded, or blows up. For someone who misunderstands the irrationality of forecasting closers in 2010, oddly, seems to grasp the tremendous short term risks.

As for me, I will just sit on my inexpensive closers Al Reyes & Francisco Cordero (29 saves for less than the cost of BJ Ryan) and let my Justin Duchsherer selection bring me saves while a manager awaits the results on an MRI on A's forecasted closer of 2010, Houston Street.

Good Luck.

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