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Sunday, April 24, 2005


It's time for ...

Our third Joe Morgan of the Day, after our first Joe Morgan of the Day, Harold Reynolds, and our second Joe Morgan of the Day, Joe Morgan.

Our third Joe Morgan of the Day is Kevin Kennedy of This is not a good website, but that doesn't mean their Joe Morgans shouldn't also be fired.

Three days ago, Kennedy wrote an article titled "Breaking slumps and building confidence" ( in which he analyzes what the Yankees need to do to turn their season around. Let's delve into his insights from that article.

The key to winning is execution and good situational hitting. It's human nature to think that when you have great talent it will all work itself out. Usually, it doesn't.

If execution is defined as scoring more runs than the other team, then yes, I agree. I would argue that situational hitting is less important than regular, overall good hitting, as well as being less important than good pitching and also probably good fielding. Kennedy goes on to say that "usually," great talent does not "work itself out." To this I would say that great talent helps teams win more often than not. Would you rather have a team with great talent, good talent, or poor talent? All things being equal, I would choose the first.

Sooner or later it will rise up and get you.

This sentence immediately follows the passage I quoted above. I have no idea what he's trying to communicate here. What is "it"? Great talent? How is that going to rise up and get me?

Look at it this way. If Alex Rodriguez managed just a sacrifice fly in Game 4 of the ALCS last year instead of striking out, Mariano Rivera would have had a two-run lead in the final inning instead of one.

If Alex Rodriguez hits a home run, Rivera has a greater than two-run lead. Is it a better percentage play for A-Rod to cut down his swing and try to hit a sac fly? There's no evidence presented either way.

Cut down or your swing and get the run it. That's how you win the close ones.

The article actually does say "or" instead of "on" and "it" instead of "in," but that's nitpicking. Although the sentence is fun to say in its published form. Again, there's no reason to assume this is the only way to "win the close ones."

Another way to break out of the long-ball syndrome is to run, put people in motion depending on the situation and the count. Remember, speed never goes into a slump and you don't have to have burners to do this.

Speed never goes into a slump? It's only valuable to steal if you almost never get caught. If you get caught, say, three times in a row, that's already a pretty big slump insofar as it costs your team outs.

These are all reasons we use the word team. When a good ball club is losing it's usually an all-areas breakdown.

This is probably untrue. It certainly isn't substantiated.

The bottom line is that you can't stand pat when you're losing. You have to change the momentum somehow. Its much too early in the season for anyone to panic. I always felt that it took at least six weeks into the season to really analyze your ball club and know what you have and what you're lacking. But you can also win or lose a pennant in April. When you start losing, its a grind to get back in the race and it can take a lot out of a team. So you can't afford to give away games early.

Okay, so we can't stand pat. That means we have to change things, NOW! But wait, we also shouldn't panic. Relax: it takes six weeks to really analyze your ball club. But wait, we can win or lose a pennant in April! Conclusion: we should make dramatic changes to turn our momentum around while simultaneously not panicking and also relaxing.

The Yankees, for instance, are in a tough division. The Red Sox are the Red Sox, but the Orioles and Blue Jays are improved and you can't even take Tampa Bay for granted with Lou Piniella there.

Can't take Tampa Bay for granted! They have a manager!

Kennedy goes on to explain why the Dodgers are winning games.

One of the big surprises in the early going has been the L.A. Dodgers. After being criticized for a number of off-season moves, the Dodgers have played to a 12-2 start and it's more than just luck. There may be a different cast of characters doing it, but the Dodgers actually got some good talent to replace the players they traded or failed to sign ...

They took a lot of flak for that, but the bottom line is that they brought in good players, kept a core group and are winning. You can't ask any more than that.

What does keeping a "core group" have to do with it? Kennedy acknowledges that there's pretty much a "different cast of characters" in L.A. The roster overhaul has been fairly dramatic, especially going back to the Lo Duca trade last year. Does Brad Penny count as a member of the"core group"? Noted character guy Milton Bradley? It seems to me that the Dodgers are mainly winning more games than expected because a few guys are really raking and a few guys are pitching lights out. Jeff Kent and Derek Lowe come to mind. Will Kent finish the year with an OPS over 1.000? No. Will Lowe finish with an ERA under 2.00? No. But their performance either way likely doesn't have too much to do with any "core group" in the clubhouse.

Anyway, "You can't ask any more than that" is actually the sentence Kennedy chose to end his article.


posted by Junior  # 10:15 PM
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