In search of wrong

Christian Petersen

A baseball writer is someone who makes awful predictions, year after year, rarely stopping to examine them because he or she is busy making more awful predictions. Really, you can describe any opinion-based writer like that -- politics, entertainment, whatever. If you have an instant reaction to something and publish it, you're probably going to look stupid eventually. Or right away. But especially with the benefit of hindsight.

Over at Baseball Prospectus, a bunch of writers recounted their worst baseball-related predictions. It's a fun topic, and I especially empathize with the one about the 2006 Diamondbacks coming into our homes and stealing our dreams as we slept. Look how scared I was! So allow me to piggyback that topic and open a call for the worst predictions or rosterbation suggestions you've ever made.

I'll start, but first I'll note that Delmon Young-related intrigue doesn't count. Almost everyone thought he would be a star, so I don't think this mock trade is so horrible. Just mostly horrible. I love the idea of "Madison Bumgarner or Tim Alderson" being interchangeable, too. That was an awful idea, but I was just following the crowd. But it's not what you think. I go along with the groupthink so people will like me, not for any of those other reasons.

Draft-day threads are usually a good place for wrong, and this is endlessly amusing:

Of the people the Giants are rumored to take, I'm a Kyle Drabek fan. However, I was geeked on the kid (Chris) Parmalee before he was linked to the Giants, so I wouldn't be upset if they reached for him at #10. Either Drabek or Parmalee would suit me fine.

(They took Tim Lincecum.)

In the same post, though, I admitted I didn't know what I was talking about. That sort of deflection is like saying you're in the no-tag zone as a kid, right before someone's about to tag you. It's an obvious cheat, but you can get away with a few of them.

No, let's take a look at the biggest overreaction in McCovey Chronicles history, which puts it in the running for the biggest overreaction in baseball-blog history. It starts right in the headline!

Giants trade away left-handed power bat, acquire marginal relievers. Oh, that makes sense.

Cool periods in the headline, guy. I'm never a fan of trading too much for relievers, and this one seemed like an egregious waste of an inexpensive power bat. And for the first year after it happened, I was able to brush it off like it was no big deal. Well, ha ha, of course I didn't know that Javier Lopez was going to turn into some sort of mecha-LOOGY. Lopez faced 87 batters for the Giants in 2010, and only one run scored when he was on the mound. I love that stat, but is that something anyone could predict?

So, safe in my smug, results-don't-excuse-process world, I didn't think the overreaction was that bad for a while. Just one of those things, man. Good thing it all worked out, lol yolo lol.

In retrospect, I was missing an important part of the puzzle:

a. The Giants didn't think that Bowker would ever hit major-league pitching
b. This made him expendable for the right complementary piece, because even if a pitcher is worth a half-win before the end of the season, that could be the difference in making the playoffs
c. They were right, and I was wrong

The more time that elapses, the more I think this was an important lesson for me. I was upset that the Giants didn't play Todd Linden, but it turned out he couldn't hit. I was upset that the Giants didn't play Fred Lewis, but it turned out he couldn't hit. Kevin Frandsen might (finally) be a success story, but I'm still skeptical about that. For a while, at least, it turned out he couldn't hit.

The Bowker trade was the final straw. It taught me that maybe -- maybe -- the Giants know more about hitting than the guy who spent 30 minutes on Baseball Reference the morning of his article. I'm not a fan of appealing to authority as a substitute for logic, but I was looking at the Lopez/Bowker trade like this:

Team gives up power bat for situational reliever

When I probably should have looked at it like this:

Team gets a situational reliever, giving up a guy who is so unlikely to correct the flaws in his approach, that he essentially has the same chance of success as a third-round pick ... which he was in the first place

The Fresno numbers were just too blinding. Since the trade, Bowker has floated around, eventually landing in Japan, where breaking balls are typically something of a house specialty. So you can guess how that worked out for him.

As a writer, I've written stupid things. I haven't gone back to see what my longest streak is, but I'm sure there have been a couple of weeks where I was like the Marco Scutaro of stupid, just nailing everything in sight. But when it comes to the wrongest I'll ever be, I'm thinking the blistering, unrepentant rage that followed the Bowker-for-Lopez trade is almost untouchable.

But, don't let me hog the stupid. I write a long, stupid thing or two every day, but y'all can make hundreds of comments in a single day. What's the wrongest prediction and/or roster suggestion you've ever made? Don't be shy. This is a safe place, except for the part about how we judge everything you do.

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