Thursday, October 12, 2006

Many people are still defending Jim Leyland's use of Joel Zumaya, even in light of his injury. I'll attempt to clarify my position.

- Leyland did not injure Zumaya. He simply increased the change Zumaya would be injured, perhaps by 1-2%.
- Despite this, this added injury risk, combined with the possibility of Zumaya being unavailable for future games, made it a poor decision to bring him in with a 6-run lead and a 5-run lead.
- It does matter that he was injured while being used in a pointless appearance.

Let's look at an analagous situation from the world of poker. Say you're playing a hold 'em tournament. You have $10,000 in chips in front of you, and you think your opponent is very unlikely to have a hand that can call a $10,000 all-in bluff bet. If there is already $20,000 in the pot, bluffing is a very attractive proposition; the vast majority of the time, you will win the $20,000. There's a small chance you will lose your $10,000, but overall the bet is a winning proposition.

This situation is similar to using Zumaya in a close game. You're risking the very small chance of an injury and a small chance that he will be unavailable in a critical spot tomorrow, but the potential reward is high.

But what if the pot contains only $100? Now betting all $10,000 is a foolish idea. You will usually win the $100, but $100 isn't that much compared to the amount as risk, and the times he calls and takes your $10,000 will make it a losing play in the long run.

This is more like using Zumaya in, oh, let's say a 6-0 game with two outs in the eighth.

Yes, it was unlucky that Zumaya was hurt, just like you would be unlucky to get caught bluffing. That doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake to put him out there.

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