• Blind faith vs. evidence and reason


    When coming to form one's beliefs or making evaluations about things, the rather vast ocean between blind faith and evidence sets up a stark contrast in reasoned (or un-reasoned) judgment. This post is not about evolution or theism, but about something much less important in the grand scheme of things.

    This post is about the Twins' evaluation of Anthony Slama.
    Let's first examine the evidence, sticking to Slama's minor league and major league statistics. In parts of four seasons in AAA Rochester, Slama has 146 2/3 inning pitched, a 2.21 ERA, 183 K, 72 BB (2.54 K/BB), and a 1.152 WHIP. In 2012, Slama has improved upon the K/BB rate (3.0) with a whopping 15.1 K/9 together with a 5 BB/9. Let me repeat, this year he has been striking out 15 batters per 9 innings.

    With such impressive AAA stats (and much the same or better at the lower levels in the minors), certainly Slama has seen ample time up with the Twins, right? He pitched 4 2/3 innings in 2010 and 2 1/3 innings in 2011. Yes, the guy striking out AAA batters at an incredibly high rate has only seven total innings up with the Twins.

    So, clearly stats lie, in the view of the relevant decision makers for the Twins.

    What, then, are the Twins basing their evaluation of Slama on instead? I submit that it is blind faith, but more importantly it is blind faith in their (the Twins' decision makers) ability to evaluate players and make projections into the major league future. Slama does not "have the stuff" and Gardenhire himself has made the claim that Slama's fastball is too straight vertically and horizontally for the majors, or in his eloquent words, "up here you've got to make it do something."

    Instead of using the evidence of Slama's AAA success to make a reasonable projection about his MLB projected performance, the Twins would rather rely on the faith they have in their seeing-eye assessment of Slama's stuff. AAA batters are actually pretty well-equipped to hit straight fastballs as well (in fact, that is usually the one thing hitters in AAA can do, even if they can't hit anything else and never make it to the majors).

    I could perhaps forgive this blind faith evaluation (in their own talents as evaluators, not in Slama) if the Twins A: had a bullpen full of better pitchers who were going to mean something for the Twins in the future, and B: if the Twins were in a division or wild card race and couldn't afford 20 innings given to a reliever they were leery of promoting.

    But neither A or B are true. While, Alex Burnett has been incredibly lucky not to get destroyed this year, he does have an option left and that should not be burned this season (it will next season, trust me!). But Jeff Gray is a pitching abomination. He (like Burnett) walks almost as many as he strikes out and he isn't striking many out to begin with. He has somehow been given 51 2/3 innings to pitch this year. And Gray has no future with the Twins, isn't getting better, and will be 31 in a few months.

    It is mind-boggling to me to consider the thought process involved in keeping Jeff Gray on the roster instead of Anthony Slama. Now, plenty of people at Twins Daily will wonder why one might complain about the last bullpen spot on a horrible team. Well, first, I am for improving the team at all roster spots if possible and it never matters how good or bad the team is in the first place. Second, is that there has to be some kind of justice in the baseball world! Anthony Slama deserves an opportunity with the Twins. We are also talking about livelihoods here as well.

    I have come to the point where I actually believe that the Twins are not promoting Slama because they are scared that he will succeed. That would prove them wrong and would make them have to question how they evaluate pitchers. The faithful do not like either of those two things happening.
    This article was originally published in blog: Blind faith vs. evidence and reason started by shanewahl
    Comments 65 Comments
    1. Buck Nasty's Avatar
      Buck Nasty -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      And how have most of those guys worked out? Yep, Slama had a bad seven innings in the majors but since then he pitched well. I assume that if you're ready to make a judgement on Slama after that, you'd also like to keep Dozier where he's at?
      You gotta let it go man. Slama does not appear to be part of their plans. Some of the other guys mentioned have done fine. Fien has actually been very good. Robertson has been a great situational guy on lefties. Manship had his moments as a long man - i.e. his last game here. Oliveros looked good before he got hurt. I doubt Slama would have added anything beyond what they got from those guys.
    1. freightmaster's Avatar
      freightmaster -
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Question the competence of the scouting staff and decision makers for leaving Slama in Rochester ... but it makes no sense to me that any MLB team would leave a guy in the minors who could actually help our weak pitching staff.

      So I can't accept the conspiracy theory.

      Besides, peoples jobs depend upon smart and correct decisions that turn into W's.

      Would anyone posting here be so foolish as to refuse to stock a roster with the best available players if it was their decision? I do not think so.
      1-Slama was completely lost with the Twins, seemingly justifying their evalution, AND...if he is such a great prospect, why arent other teams trying to pry him away from the Twins? Seems an ideal trade chip, but I dont think his name comes up very often
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by freightmaster View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by OldManWinter View Post
      Question the competence of the scouting staff and decision makers for leaving Slama in Rochester ... but it makes no sense to me that any MLB team would leave a guy in the minors who could actually help our weak pitching staff.

      So I can't accept the conspiracy theory.

      Besides, peoples jobs depend upon smart and correct decisions that turn into W's.

      Would anyone posting here be so foolish as to refuse to stock a roster with the best available players if it was their decision? I do not think so.
      1-Slama was completely lost with the Twins, seemingly justifying their evalution, AND...if he is such a great prospect, why arent other teams trying to pry him away from the Twins? Seems an ideal trade chip, but I dont think his name comes up very often
      He pitched 7 innings over two seasons for the Twins.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      One last post on this topic. Slama missed 2 months of this season due to injury. He missed a similar amount last season. At least part of the reason he hasn't gotten big league opportunities is because he has been unavailable for at least 1/3 of the last 2 minor league seasons. You can't pitch in the majors if you can't pitch in the minors.

      I have not paid much attention to the Slama/Gray discussion because I really don't think Gray has anything to do with Slama not pitching in the majors. But if you have to compare the two, well they have similar control(control being the major problem for Gray). Gray throws harder and is said to have better stuff, which having watched both only on TV, it seems likely or at least it looks that way on TV. Slama has managed better strikeout rates in the minors, but has a similar home run rate. Slama's deceptive delivery may help him but I really don't see any huge likelyhood that he is going to be a lot more effective than Gray. It could happen and really it would be good for the Twins if he was, but it really isn't all that likely.


      If Slama is going to be effective in the majors, his control has to be much better than it has been in the past. Otherwise he is Jeff Gray, more or less. Now he may "deserve" an opportunity, and if he can stay healthy, he will likely get another one. Again and finally, he isn't any victim of a conspiracy, he isn't being held back because someone doesn't like him, he isn't a victim of faulty evaluation.

      To pitch in the majors, since he is unlikely to improve either his velocity or his stuff, he must stay healthy and demonstrate improved control. That's it.
    1. Fatt Crapps's Avatar
      Fatt Crapps -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I'm no big fan of Gray, but he did his job fine this year, eating innings and protecting other arms.
      Actually, Gardy has used him multiple times when the game was tied. He's done a fine job by being the worst reliever in the majors? He's this years Dusty Hughes, but for some reason is still on the roster.
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