FIRE JOE MORGAN: Sports Guy: Nothing Egregious, But Still ...


Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005


Sports Guy: Nothing Egregious, But Still ...

It was bound to happen: FJM's first Bill Simmons post. Today he's taking on (surprise, surprise) the current state of the Boston Red Sox.

"For instance, we gave up a Human Standing Ovation (Roberts, who wanted to play every day -- like they couldn't have found him 350-400 ABs?) for three stiffs (including a career head case who admittedly staged a dugout argument to get traded two weeks ago)."

>> Roberts wanted to play every day. I repeat: Roberts wanted to play every day. You just said it. The Red Sox have three outstanding (hitting, at least) outfielders -- Roberts just wouldn't have gotten enough ABs. That's exactly why Jay Payton went crazy and did whatever he did to get traded.

And while Jay Payton isn't Andruw Jones, he's not a stiff, either. He was probably one of the best fourth OFs in baseball before he got traded. He plays a strong CF and his career OPS+ is 100 even. Having him on your bench is valuable -- unless, of course, you knew before the season started he would demand a trade, which I don't think anyone could have predicted.

"We also paid $40 million for a "29-year-old" All-Star shortstop who appears to be between 34 and 37 years old (no lie). "

>> The Renteria contract seems like a slight overpay. But Orlando Cabrera, who is worse at the plate and arguably worse in the field, commanded $32 million.

"Two other free agent targets (Pavano and Beltre) turned out to be Grade-A busts on other teams, continuing the bizarre ritual of GM Theo Epstein's getting bailed out of dubious offseason moves (Contreras, Vazquez and the A-Rod/Manny/Nomar/Ordonez quagmire) because other teams squashed his plans."

>> This criticism, if that's what it is (and it sure seems like it), is really, really bizarre. Simmons wants it to come across as an offhanded, Isn't that interesting? sort of observation, but I think he might actually believe that Theo Epstein has been an extremely lucky GM. Almost everyone thought Pavano and Beltre would be good, if not as good as they were last year. Javy Vazquez looked like a stud -- and his K/BB ratio is pretty impressive this year. And who didn't want to get rid of Manny's contract and get A-Rod in the process? Any case made for that non-move would have to be based on chemistry concerns.

"Here's the point: The Red Sox tried to have it both ways. And you can't create a "Let's not dwell on past achievements, we need to build the best team possible and keep moving forward" mind-set, then give ninth, tenth, fifteenth and twentieth chances to Bellhorn, Foulke, Embree and third base coach Dale Sveum (who would have spawned a potential riot at Kenmore Square in any other season). Were we moving on from last year or clinging to last year?"

>> Embree was DFA'd. Foulke went on the DL. Did the Red Sox wait too long? Maybe by a few games, but who was going to come in and replace them? Cla Meredith? Lenny Dinardo? Lest we forget, Matt Mantei was already put on the DL and John Halama has proven to be as ineffective as anyone in the bullpen.

So options were limited.

As for Bellhorn, it looks like the Tony Graffanino Era has already begun.

"If we're clinging to last year, why not keep Cabrera and Roberts (two of the most beloved players from that team), and why wait until the last second to sign Pedro (only the most significant pitcher in the history of the franchise)?"

>> Cabrera cost $32 million over four years and he has a .659 OPS this year. Renteria is a better player.

Roberts would hardly be playing, and like both of us agree, he didn't want to come back and not be a starter. Give it up.

I'm sure the Red Sox miss Pedro's production, but apparently there was a mutual dislike between Petey and the front office. That's really too bad.

"Even though they're 10 games over .500 -- just like last year's group at the same point in the season -- it's impossible to imagine them competing in October without 2-3 more major moves to upgrade the bullpen and the bottom of the order."

>> Come on. The bottom of the order? Where Bill Mueller hits? The Red Sox's bottom of the order might be the best in baseball. As of today, the Sox are 2nd in baseball in runs scored; they trail the Yankees by a single run. Have you seen other teams' bottoms of their lineups? The Yankees are running Tino Martinez and Bubba Crosby out there.

By the way, Mark Bellhorn, who was indeed struggling before he went on the DL, has an OBP of .328, which coincidentally is exactly the same as that of Robinson Cano, the Future of the Yankees who bats 2nd in their lineup.

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posted by Junior  # 4:08 PM
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