Rather, I'm asking for an understanding of how and why so that we can more accurately understand how we are today. That some guy no longer in the organization picked Chris Gruler instead of Scott Kazmir tells me nothing about the process or intelligence of picking Devin Moreseco over Rick Porcello, for example. How can we assess the quality of that pick and that player? Must we wait 5 years? Should we simply go on hype or consensus? Who made that pick and why? Was it using the same logic as the Gruler > Kazmir pick? Was it a decision based on the same kind of information? Can we expect that kind of decision to be made in the future given everything we know about the Reds today?
We supposedly have access to why things happen. Why is it wrong to ask the questions how and why? The Reds don't suck because sucking is an intrinsic characteristic of being the Reds. There are specific reasons, specific actions, specific PEOPLE, responsible for that sucking. If those things change, it's eminently reasonable to ask the question, might the decisions of today and tomorrow be different as well?
I want to understand what underlying causes result in the bad outcomes we've observed. Sometimes bad outcomes happen because people make bad decisions. But sometimes bad outcomes happen when people make good decisions. (and visa versa for that matter).
The Reds have had bad outcomes, that has been clearly established. I want to understand whether the decisions (actions, etc.) were also bad. Or more precisely, what bad outcomes were the result of bad decisions/actions, and which were simply the result of something beyond anybody's control (call it luck or random variance if you want). It's not a direct cause/effect relationship where every bad outcome is the result of a bad decision/action. Using 3 specific examples in which a bad decision resulted in a bad outcome doesn't prove otherwise. Being told that Reds scouts missed on 3 specific players doesn't begin to answer my question.
Regarding Coffey, either I wasn't clear or I was being misinterpreted. My point in that conversation, and others like it, is that merely describing things that have happened in the past and using those events to predict future events are very different things. You need to assess causes to understand likely future outcomes.
It seems to me that the above point highlights our fundamental misunderstanding.
Your typical line of reasoning seems to be:
Things that have happened in the past are likely are likely to happen in the future. It is based on an assumption that outcomes are all the result of the observed actions.
Example: Todd Coffey allowed a lot of HR in 2007. Todd Coffey is a pitcher who allows lots of HR. Todd Coffey will continue to allow lots of HR in 2008.
Things that have happened in the past have happened for lots of reasons, only some of which are causes we've observed. If we want to understand what is likely to happen in the future, we should understand more precisely what caused that thing to happened and see if that cause(s) is likely to reoccur, thus producing the same result. Then we can predict what's likely to happen in the future.
Example: Todd Coffey allowed a lot of HR in 2007. The rate at which Todd Coffey allowed HR was so high, so out of line with his other numbers, and so out of line with what we see from pitchers generally speaking who perform as he performed otherwise that we can reasonably expect his HR allowance rate to be lower in the future. Thus, Todd Coffey will likely allow fewer HR in 2008 and not suck as much.
It's not that Todd isn't "at fault" for allowing lots of homers in 2007. It's that the occurrence of him allowing lots of HR is not 100% a result of the quality of his pitching. If Todd Coffey is the exact same pitcher in 2008, based on everything we know about pitchers and baseball, we would expect him to allow fewer HR in 2008.
Let me take a simpler example. Free throws. I give you 5 free throws. You clank 1 off the back rim, 1 lips out, and 1 hits the backboard, then side rim and misses. You're shooting 40%. Now, based on that, I can say pretty definitively that you are responsible for that 40% FT%. However, if somebody watching you with me says, let's give him another 5 shots and asks me how many you're going to hit, I'm going to consider more information than just the fact that you were 2 for 5 last time. I'm going to look at your career FT%. I'm going to look at your form. I'm going to see if the wind was blowing. Bottom line, I'm not going to assume you're going to go 2 for 5 next time. That past performance is merely 1 data point among many to consider. Would you call me an apologist for suggesting that you're most likely to hit 3 of 5 next time?
It's the same way with Todd Coffey's HR allowed. And now I'm trying to gather information about minor league systems so that I can be more objective than simply saying "we missed on Kazmir, Weaver, and Lincecum, therefore we're doomed for eternity."
What frustrates me is that I think you are being more objective than that. I think you do have a sense of what's really going on behind the scenes. You see that things haven't changed substantially and thus feel that because the causes are still there, the outcome isn't likely to change. But for some reason you seem to averse to actually making that argument. It's easier to throw out an example or two and be done with it. I want more evidence before making my judgment and will take a neutral position until then. If that makes me an apologist, so be it.