John Perrotto’s hatchet job on Ian Snell 8-8-05

Sunday, January 28 2007 @ 12:41 am UTC

Contributed by: Staff

By Stephen Zielinski

In this article I take a critical look at a John Perrotto piece published in the August 8, 2005 Beaver County and Allegheny Times. The title I’ve chosen indicates the subject matter and the mood in which the article was written.

John Perrotto has been a reliable reporter. He’s also been a friend of the fans. He has proven his worth over the years. But, he did the fans a disservice in his most recent article on the Pirates, ‘Snell shelled by L.A,’ Beaver County and Allegheny Times, August 8, 2005. I also believe he failed to do a good job as a reporter.

In fact, he failed the fans by doing a poor job as a reporter.

Perrotto wrote:

The Pittsburgh Pirates' talent evaluators are split about Ian Snell's long-term role in the major leagues.

Some believe the rookie right-hander will become at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter and maybe better. Others believe he is better suited to work out of the bullpen as a set-up man and possibly emerge as a closer.

While three major-league starts certainly does not represent a large enough sample size to make a determination on Snell, early returns indicate those who feel he should work in relief have the right idea.

Let me unpack this passage. First of all, Perrotto claims that we lack the evidence needed to rationally determine Snell's proper role on the team. That’s the import of claiming three starts does not provide sample size large enough to make such a determination. Bluntly put, the evidence is inadequate to rationally draw a conclusion.

The question, of course: Is Snell best used as a starter or reliever? Now, it is worth noting that this question has been posed by unnamed Pirate front office personnel. We lack this evidence to rationally answer this question because the sample size available to us is too small to answer the question, Perrotto claims. He could have added that drawing a conclusion from this evidence amounts to making a hasty generalization, which is a logical fallacy.

Yet, Perrotto, knowing that he stood on shaky ground, still managed to tilt towards the ‘Snell belongs in the bullpen’ option based on evidence he just indicated to be inadequate! Trying to qualify his assertion by delimiting it with an ‘early returns indicate’ does not help him at all, for ‘early returns’ could not indicate that Snell ought to be a reliever

Given what he actually wrote, Perrotto could have state his point thusly: ‘Based on evidence I believe to be inadequate, it appears that Snell is better suited to pitch from the bullpen.’ But, Perrotto didn’t write that or anything like that. It’s a good thing he avoided stating the simple and direct answer because it would have made him look like a fool had he done so.

Second, who are Perrotto’s sources regarding the Snell dilemma? Among the front office, who believes Snell should pitch from the bullpen? Who believes he can be a starter? Moreover, why does Perrotto protect them by concealing their identities? Perrotto then goes on to note: [I]Snell might be tough, but he certainly wasn't a stand-up guy Sunday. He was showered, dressed and gone before the media ever reached the clubhouse, and some of his teammates were disgusted that he shirked the post-game interviews, generally considered a duty of the starting pitcher.[/I] How often does clubhouse dirty laundry get aired this quickly by the local press? Not very often. Why do so now? Because Snell is a rookie? Because Perrotto believes Snell should be a relief pitcher? Because Perrotto likes those who believe Snell should be a relief pitcher? Perhaps Perrotto is making a bid for Marrioti’s gig: Scandalmonger and Dumb### blowhard. Unfortunately, Snell appears to be the new whipping post for the local media now that J.J. Davis and Aram have moved on. Steve