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Welcome to Hey Bill, where Bill answers questions from his subscribers almost every day. Visitors can read the most recent Hey Bill's on this page.  Subscribers can ask Bill a question directly and also view our archive of questions and answers.

 

The fifteen most recent questions are listed here and will change almost every day.

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15 Most Recent Questions

I assume you're familiar with Brandon Ingram, D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and I guess I better mention Tarik Black because he's the Jayhawk from the NCAA. Does this seem to you to be the nucleus of a championship team?
Asked by: bobfiore

Answered: 6/25/2016
 Outside my area of understanding. . . .

 

can you name 15 good hitting catchers, that play good defense, in the last 20 years?  
regular ft catchers.  
 
thx,  
Martin
Asked by: dmbbmartin10

Answered: 6/25/2016
 I could, yeah, except that I can never spell "Pierzcynski".   

 

The Cubs currently have 5 of the top 32 pitchers in MLB, according to the Starting Pitcher Rankings (Hendricks is at #32). Seems like an extraordinary accomplishment. I did a little spot checking on the 1990s Braves, the 1998 Yankees, the 1986 Mets, and none of them were as strong as that, through the fifth starter. The Braves in the 1993-1995 period consistently had 4 pitchers in the top 20 -- the 1998 Braves had 4 in the top 12! I couldn't think of anyone else to check. Any other contenders?
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 6/25/2016
 Indians' current rotation is pretty good.   Maybe the Yankees in the years when they imported guys like Clemens and David Cone and David Wells and El Duque.   I dunno. . . 

 

Hey Bill, in yesterday's Boston-Texas, do you know why nobody was charged with a blown save? Texas was winning 7-4 in the ninth inning. In the box score I saw, Diekman gave up two runs and got a hold, Bush gave up two runs and took the loss.
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 6/25/2016
I think Bush WOULD be charged with a Blown Save.   Probably just the box score you saw chose one or the other. . . 

 

Hi Bill, a small addition to the discussion on the 1940 Reds.  They probably could be called the team with 4 shortstops, as Billy Myers (88 starts) and Joost (78) split the job.  Myers was the regular in 1939 and had an excellent season, but his hitting collapsed in 1940 (Joost didn't hit either).  Myers was the SS in the World Series against Detroit, while Joost started at 2B replacing an injured Lonnie Frey.  The team DER was .730, the best in the majors that year, and the highest since the 1908 Pirates (also a .730 DER).   McKechnie's focus on defense was one of the most interesting essays in your manager book (at least for a Reds fan) and it worked well until he let Hank Sauer go over his glove.   Thanks!
Asked by: greg1990

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Well, thank you, but I think it (it being McKechnie's absolute belief in the primacy of playing defense). . . I think it gradually sunk him over a period of time, rather than that it suddenly sunk him in 1947.    Which is a wise lesson for all of us.   The things we believe in work much better when they are an element of our philosophy, rather than after they BECOME the philosophy.  

 

Bill, I agree there are reasons for optimism on the A's.  A long-standing fan base has withstood the recent success of the Giants and in some ways mirrors the divide here between East Bay and "West Bay".  Surely there also are some general baseball fans nearby Oakland who have found quicker access to a much less expensive product a reason to gravitate to the As over the Giants.  And you are right that Oakland as a city has more going for it today.
 
 I do think that it won't truly be a success until they figure out the stadium situation.  Wolff is now saying he's open to Oakland but bizarrely he seems to want something in the area of the current Coliseum.  Which is not new Oakland--it's urban/industrial/burnt out and without access to bay views.  Wolff didn't get rich by being stupid, so there must be something in his play.  Developing there was his original proposal when he came on in 2005.  City refused to exercise eminent domain.  And they still want a park downtown. Stalemate.
Asked by: tkoegel

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Thanks.  

 

I wonder if Hinkie's otherwise thoughtful and persuasive letter might have been differently received if he'd just omitted this bit from page one: "I can assure you that when your team is eventually able to compete deep into May, Scott [O'Neil, in charge of business operations] will ably and efficiently separate the good people of the Delaware Valley from their wallets on your behalf. Worry not." That strikes me as sophomorically glib in a way that even the equity partners might have found off-putting, and it's hard to imagine the soon-to-be-fleeced hoi polloi being anything other than instantly infuriated by it. If he intended the letter to be made public, whatever his other virtues, it seems to me that he has a not-insignificant problem with tone.
Asked by: matt_okeefe

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Thanks. 

 

Bill,  
   Someone asked who the SS was in McKechnie's infield with Lonnie Fray at 2B and Bill Werber at 3B.  This is the Reds' infield.  Eddie Miller was the Braves SS.  I think that Eddie Joost and Bill Meyer were the SS's for the Reds.
Asked by: 78sman

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Eddie Miller was the Reds' shortstop from 1943 to 1947.   But you're kind of right, that Eddie Joost was the shortstop on the team with three shortstops, the 1940 team.  

 

  Do you have any guess as to what the attendance would have be if Charlie Finley had kept the A's in Kansas City and they had the success they had in Oakland 1971-75? Would people have filled the ballpark or would Finley had kept them away?
Asked by: ZachSmith

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Well, if Finley SIMPLY kept the A's in Kansas City and didn't change his behaviors, the attendance would have been fair to middling.   There was tremendous fan support for Catfish Hunter and Bert Campaneris even before they left KC in 1967; the support for Bando and Vida would have built quickly.    But Finley's attitude that "this is MY team,not yours" would have depressed attendance in any situation, I think.   They certainly would have drawn more fans in KC than in Oakland--as Finley acknowledged many times.    He admitted that he had made a mistake in leaving KC.  
 
I predict that fan support in Oakland will finally take off big-time now as soon as Oakland is back in the race.   I predict this for three reasons.   One is, it takes 40 to 50 years for a fan base to mature.   The A's have now been there long enough for that to happen--and I see clear signs that it IS happening.   There certainly now are the FANATIC A's fans who are keys to the market.   Second, the fact that the Giants always sell out no doubt drives some marginal fans to buy tickets to Oakland games, and some of those marginal fans will develop into passionate fans.   
 
And third, Oakland is a very different city now than it was 15 years ago.   Oakland is no longer a grimy, dirty, second-rate city; it has become a vibrant, attractive city with a lot of charm.   I think this will make it much easier for a lot of people to identify with the team, because the city is no longer the. . . not so nice. . .place that it used to be.  

 

I had never read Hinkie's letter, so I was curious at your reaction to a user comment and decided to read it.  It's not clear to me that any arrogance was intended.  
 
Perhaps the material being discussed affects peoples' interpretation of what's being said.  Certainly taking an analytical approach to running a sports franchise is in your wheelhouse, and I'm sure that many people over the past 20 years that were close to you have been affected by backlash to the analytics movement.  
 
Hinkie's references to Lincoln, Buffett, Klarman, Munger, et al may be the crux of the difference.  Reading these, I didn't take him to mean that he was comparing himself, or the quality of his thought, to them, but merely citing them as inspirations.  If one were to take these references as claims of equality, I could see where the term "arrogant" could pop into the conversation.  
 
He didn't intend that, and his intended audience wasn't the world, but a handful of  specific people who will get the references.
Asked by: Christopher

Answered: 6/24/2016
 I think that's right, except that I thought the letter was always intended to be public.   In any case. . .what you missed, I think. . .is that after the letter became public there were a bunch of articles written by smart-ass sports reporters attacking him for his arrogance.   ONE of them read it or mis-read it that way; the others then jumped on the wandbagon and all mis-read it the same way.   I was trying to encourage a more understanding reading of what I genuinely think is a very good letter, if perhaps a little bit inappropriate to the circumstances.  

 

Speaking of infield arms, I agree that Machado's is great, maybe even better than Ripken's was. Besides Hardy, the Orioles also have Jonathan Schoop at second, who might have a good shortstop's arm himself. I remember you wrote about Bill McKechnie's Cincinnati teams having an infield made up of three shortstops (though at the moment I can only remember Frey and Werber, not the guy who actually played short). Would you say the Orioles have assembled something similar now?  
 
Asked by: BobGill

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Eddie Miller.    People don't remember players who have super-common names.    My contract prohibits me from saying anything good about the Orioles. . ..:=)

 

Re Sam Hinkie's letter:  I knew what he was trying to accomplish, and he might have enabled it to happen.  So, despite the fact the team was unwatchable for the last two  years, I'm not one of his enemies/harsh critics.  However, the blatant tanking (including letting the team's best point guard of two years ago walk without replacing him with one even as good (and that one had come through waivers) certainly made enemies.  His way of dealing with people was arrogant--everyone could be reduced to being an asset or liability, a number really.  The letter was 13 pages long, and was his resignation because the team didn't want to let him do it his way without input from the Colangelos.  It was a very long justification of his actions.  So there was certainly some arrogance in there.  He may well have been wise to resign, but writing a 13 page letter when two would suffice and then leaking it to the press isn't the norm.
Asked by: jalbright

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Yes, I agree with all of that.   But very, very quietly.  

 

Hey Bill,  
 
I'm very interested in the question/answer about the accept vs. shake off the pitch signs.  I love it when the pitcher shakes off a sign, then immediately delivers a HR pitch to the obvious disgust of the catcher. It reminds me of the managers' decision tables in the Handbooks regarding ,say, IBB which blew up in their face. Is it worth studying which pitchers shake off the sign most often and the success/failure rate of the subsequent pitch?
Asked by: AJD600

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Well, I think we DO have data on how often different pitchers shake off the catcher.   It isn't that straightforward, though, because pitchers do "shake off" signs sometimes purely as a show.  

 

Yes, we've had the discussion so many times, but, the fact that you keep getting such questions shows that a lot of reasonably intelligent people aren't convinced by what you and your colleagues have explained. ..
Asked by: MarisFan61

Answered: 6/24/2016
 Nor would you be convinced if we explained it again. . .

 

Re discussion about hot streaks/cold streaks being random, how long does it take before a "cold streak" indicates some fundamental problem?  Bryce Harper has been struggling for the last 6 weeks or so (although he seemed to be coming out of it until his 0-5 last night) and it looks to my untrained eye (and to the Nats announcers) that he is pulling off the ball trying to pull it.  So, is this just an exceptionally long random bad streak or can you attribute it to problems with his mechanics/approach?  That's not to say that he has suddenly lost his talent but that it's more than just random occurrence.  Or, alternatively, are technique problems in themselves random, ie, hitters will go through periods where their mechanics are not right and those periods fall randomly through the year and that Harper's is just lasting longer than is typically the case?  Or, did last year simply raise the standard unrealistically so that Harper's performance this year is closer to his real talent level?
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 6/23/2016
 We have had this discussion so many times that I no longer see any way to advance it, at least at the present time.   

 

 
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