Morning Thoughts on Crystal Balls, September 20, 2010

Morning Update, September 20, 2010

You guys had a very interesting and, at times, intense discussion about Chris Carter yesterday. A few points:

**The question was, obviously, meant to stimulate discussion about Carter. That's the whole point of a True/False question...to get you thinking about an issue, even though sometimes the "right" or most logical answer isn't something that boils down to a simple dichotomy. I try to use the Socratic method a lot , and asking yes/no-true/false questions, even ones that don't really boil down that way, is part of that.

**I'm going to do more Crystal Balls this week, starting with Buster Posey this afternoon. There has been a lot of confusion about what the CBs are. I've tried to explain his several times but it doesn't seem to get through to some people, but I'll try again.
      The CB is not intended as a formal projection like PECOTA or Bill James' old system. I'm not saying "Player X will turn out this way."
      But at the same time, I'm not just making up the numbers in a vacuum. A CB is intended to present a plausible career outcome for a player based on what we currently know about him. Sometimes the plausible outcome presented is at the top range of expectations, sometimes it is in the middle, sometimes it is closer to a floor. Which I pick for any particular player depends on various factors, including my mood that day, or if I'm trying to generate discussion about a specific aspect of the player, for example if Mike Stanton's strikeouts will cut down on his development.
     I'm not going to telegraph ahead of time where a particular CB exists on the continuum, or if there is a specific question I'm aiming to explore. That's for you to figure out as part of the discussion.
     A CB is intended to make you think about a player, to look at your own expectations for the player and compare them to the CB or other people's expectations. Obviously the CB will reflect my own opinion about the player to some extent; it has to. But it is not intended as an Olympian pronouncement: it does not mean "John Sickels thinks Buster Posey will hit .297 in his career." It's intended Socratically...."here is what Buster Posey's career might look like, how does that compare to what you think about him, and what does that teach you?"
      Minor League Ball does not exist so that John Sickels can bloviate, or at least that's not its sole function. I'm  trying to build a community here, a culture, a place to learn and think about prospects and baseball in general. The CBs are part of that.  I've tried to explain this before, but this is about as clear as I can make it. If it still doesn't make sense, I'm sorry. 
  
**As for Chris Carter, my opinion is that the sample is too small to draw broad conclusions at this point. It is too soon to panic or even worry excessively. It clearly indicates that he's got some adjustment issues, but he's struggled in his first look at new levels before, and has always made the adjustments necessary in the end. I've seen him enough to believe that he has it in him to make these adjustments again. He'll never be a .300 hitter in the majors, but I think he can hit .260 with plenty of power once he settles down.

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