Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Narrative Dies Hard

A few days ago, I examined how the scripts explaining why the Giants have been genetically incapable of developing young talent swiftly moved from Dusty Baker hates young players to Brian Sabean knew the team had to Win Now™ while Barry Bonds was still around.

In that bit, I marvelled at the fact that the new script served to (at least partially) absolve Sabean, current Dodger GM (and former Giant assistant GM) Ned Coletti, and the rest of the front office crew from any culpability in the team's player development shortfalls. Even more puzzling to me was that, even while admitting that the Giants front office was intentionally pursuing a strategy of frittering away draft picks and signing Proven Veterans™, no one cut Baker any slack. He was still the ogre in this fairy tale, no matter what Sabean's strategy was.

As if in answer the my unspoken prayers, Yahoo's Jeff Passan offers up this observation on Baker, as Reds camp opens:

“I know what I’ve got to do,” Baker said Thursday, and while his .527 career winning percentage inspires confidence, his track record with young players is spotty enough to cause concern.

In his 10 seasons with the Giants, Baker did not develop a single everyday player. The closest was Rich Aurilia. Three starting pitchers from the Giants’ organization stuck: Kirk Rueter, Russ Ortiz and Shawn Estes.

With the Cubs, Baker oversaw the destruction of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood’s careers. He trotted them out for 130-pitch starts. Baker isn’t big into statistics, so he probably wasn’t aware that comprehensive studies on pitch counts show 130 is a young pitcher’s equivalent to a national threat level of red.

Still, Baker met the suggestion that he might give Bruce or Cueto or even Votto more time at Triple-A with some derision.

“Who says they need to be eased in?” Baker said. “I wasn’t eased in. Junior wasn’t eased in. A whole bunch of guys weren’t eased in. A lot of it has to do with need.”

Funny how Passan disappeared that Win Now™ script. And bonus points for his unabashed two-fer: trotting out the Dusty hates using young players and the Dusty abuses young players scripts in back-to-back grafs.

But so it goes with your baseball media today. They have their favored scripts and narratives. And if they are hard to reconcile with logic and history, then logic and history must be wrong.

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