"Character is an important factor for anyone. In baseball, it's definitely important. In baseball, character is referred to as makeup." >>This sounds important. Let's take a look at some of the attributes that Steve Phillips claims are part of a players "makeup." Shall we?
Leadership: The ability to be yourself and bring others along for the ride. >> So, leading is being yourself? Oh, okay. That must be what's holding players like Carl Everett back from being a leader. He's just not being himself!
Work ethic: The willingness to sweat and improve areas of weakness. >>Well, this I can't argue with. I mean, how many times have we seen it..."Alex Cintron sure would be a much better hitter if he were just willing to sweat a little more." Unfortunately for Alex, his area of weakness is being good at professional baseball, and he's not willing to improve.
Mental toughness: The ability to show up every day and play at a high level regardless of what happened yesterday or what happened off the field. >>Again, right on the money. Perhaps nothing plagues professional baseball players more than truancy.
Competitiveness: The burning desire to win. >>Fact: Only one in four professional baseball players wants to win.
Aggressiveness: The ability to attack when the situation calls for it. >>I assume this means you're only supposed to attack when the situation calls for it? What does this mean? And are there really players who don't have the 'makeup' to attack when the situation calls for it? "Coach, I really wanted to line a double down the line, I really did. But I just don't have the guts. It has nothing to do with the fact that I have like a 610 OPS this year. I just can't bring myself to do it." (Adrian Beltre, 5/29/05, on why he couldn't hit a double with runners in scoring position.)
Emotional control: The ability to control the anxiety one feels in critical situations or when one fails. Trying harder in baseball often leads to failure. >>What if trying harder makes me better? Then can I lose emotional control? Don't you think it's just possible that trying harder would produce better results? And if you're really right, Steve Phillips, shouldn't the best players be the ones who are able to try the least? Well, maybe he's got a point. Come to think of it, Hank Aaron sure didn't try very hard. Neither did Honus Wagner or Walter Johnson. Wagner, of course, was famous for trying so unhard that he would often lie down in the batters box for some at bats. Johnson was so dedicated to not trying that instead of trying to strike batters out, he would usually throw the ball into the ground and then squat on it while making farting noises. (This move, of course, became known as "The Walter".) And I don't have to remind you about Michael Jack Schmidt. So sure was he that trying hard leads to failure that he refused to ever pick up a bat in his entire MLB career. Didn't stop him from getting in the Hall of Fame. And you know who does try hard? Drew Niles. What's that -- you've never heard of him? That's cause even though he's already 28, he's still playing AA ball for the Carolina Mudcats. Poor guy shows up at 9AM every day to take extra BP. Always hustles, tries hard on every play. Keeps more than 25 binders, meticulously scouting the opposition, keeping track of his mistakes, and his patterns of success. Stays after the game, too, just to take grounders, work the kinks out of his mechanics. Classic case of trying too hard.
Empathy: The ability to understand what your teammate is going through. >>You mean like, when his grandfather dies?
Decision making: The ability to evaluate situations and make good decisions on the field and in one's life. >>All right Steve Phillips. Let's do a little comparison. Player A has a 720 OPS and puts his money in a nice portfolio of domestic stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and international funds, keeping about 10-15% percent in a money market "just in case." Player B has a 990 OPS and puts all his money under his mattress. Player A has 20 XBH in 400 ABs, and is saving himself for marriage. Player B has 50 XBH in 360 ABs (more walks, fewer ABs), and has unprotected sex with a different prostitute every night. Sometimes more than one. Player A's RC/27 is hovering around 4, and he always sends gifts to his friends on their birthdays. Player B's RC/27 is pushing 8.5, and last year for his brother's anniversary he took a crap in his washing machine. Player A is a bench warmer and a middle-of-the-road Republican. Player B is a future Hall of Famer and a card-carrying member of the American Nazi Party. Who would you rather have? (Note: I seem to have forgotten the point I was trying to make here. I'm not sure that anyone would want player B on his team.)
Communication skills: The ability to express clearly one's thoughts and feelings to a manager, coach, teammate or the media. Are you loud or quiet? >>I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, KAZ ISHII! YOUR MAKEUP IS SHIT BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GET YOUR THOUGHTS ACROSS TO OUR GODDAM PITCHING COACH!
Ability to deal with failure: A hitter needs the ability to cope with failing about seven out of 10 times. Perfectionists have a hard time with this. >>Don't you think most professional baseball players have played enough to realize that this oft-cited statistic is more or less true? Is there anyone who gets to the bigs and can't cope because they thought they just might hit .640 for their whole career?
Ability to deal with success: Knowing the game is never easy and that one must stay on top of his game, because failure is just around the corner. Baseball is a humbling game because of the inherent failure. >>In other words, the reason you need to deal with success is not because it helps you as a player or anything, but only because you're going to fail eventually. . .well then, shouldn't we just be concerned with ability to deal with failure?
I'm sure it won't surprise any of you loyal FJM readers to hear that Steve Phillips thinks the player with the best makeup in baseball is none other than Derek Jeter.
Special note: Phillips' article is apparently part of a column he writes calls Psychology 101. Well, it just so happens that I have a degree in Psychology. So I think I'm qualified in saying: Steve Phillips, you're a fucking idiot.
Joe Morgan: I have to say, I was a little surprised when all this came up, when Bernie Williams was benched...they were trying to find at bats for everyone but Bernie, and I was saying, Bernie was the one who helped them win 4 out of 5 world championships in the 90's, and I was surprised they weren't trying to find him more AB's.
Ken Tremendous: [out loud, to no one] Joe, come *on.* Who the fuck cares how many world championships he has won?!
Ken Tremendous's Fiancee: [from other room] Who are you talking to?
Ken Tremendous: ...it's hard to explain.
Flourish. Exeuent. Curtain.
[see previous posts, if you haven't already, for explication of Ken's anger]
"For this team to continue to contend they need to go out and make a trade for a No. 2 hitter. The Phillies have the perfect guy for them in Placido Polanco. He's not getting consistent at-bats in Philly, but he's a great No. 2 hitter because he gives himself up."
The best hitters in the world are the ones who intentionally make outs.
"They also would be well served if they could get a lefty starter to mix things up in the rotation. They have excellent intangibles with manager Bruce Bochy who is the best manager in the division."
Bochy leads all NL managers in intangibles this year with 106.40. Pretty excellent. Second place is Tony LaRussa with 115.42. (Remember, when you calculate intangibles, you want the LOWEST score possible.) The all-time record for excellence in intangibles in one season is Cookie Lavagetto, who achieved an unthinkably excellent 30.1 with the Washington Senators in 1960, despite his team going 73-81. Which just goes to show you: having excellent managerial intangibles does not guarantee success.
Greg (Tallahassee,FL): Joe, with all the controversy still out there about steroids and such, shouldn't MLB try to push young players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, Clint Barmes and Justin Morneau? It seems like they are pushing superstars who are still questionable...Instead of young players who play hard.
Joe Morgan: Well, I think you answer your own question, Greg. The big names start are only 'questionable' NOT proven.
Ken Tremendous: (looking around for help) What?
Seymour (Brooklyn): Joe, as far as best players in the game today are concerned, where do you rank The Captain - Derek Jeter?
Joe Morgan: Well, I think Miguel Tejada is the best player in the game for everything that he adds and brings to the field each day. I think Alex Rodriguez is next on that list. I don't know where Jeter would rank, obviously he's one of the best players, and he does bring the intangibles like leadership, etc. ... but he's not better than Miguel Tejada. I'd say Derek Jeter is in the top 8 or 10 best in the game today.
Ken Tremendous: Jeter is having a decent year -- one of his better starts. There are still 24 players with a higher RC27 in the AL alone. Prefer stupid stats like BA? Okay. He's 16th in the AL. SLG? Not in the top 40. Remember -- this is AL only. He also has the 5th lowest ZR in all of baseball. He is not one of the 8 or 10 best players in the game today. He is one of the 60 best, perhaps. You should be fired, Joe Morgan.
Chris, Toronto: Are the Blue Jays for real? What do they need in order to seriously make a run at a playoff spot?
Joe Morgan: Well, they've definitely improved over last year's team, but I think in the long run, they'll still miss Delgado's bat. I just can't see the Blue Jays beating out the Yankees ... BUT, anything IS possible.
Ken Tremendous: Joe, the question was, "What do they need in order to seriously make a run at a playoff spot?" You should try answering the question. It makes the chats more fun!
Sean (Washington DC): Joe, you mention "intangibles" Do you think that most players understand and believe in them (such things as clubhouse chemistry, baseball IQ, etc. because I do and I think a lot of fans do but there seem to be quite a few analysts and reporters who think they are overrated. What's your take?
Ken Tremendous: Now, Joe, before you answer, remember. You are an analyst. You have to be smart, and current, and knowledgeable. You have to correct people when they are wrong, and express, in clear, concise language, opinions and facts based on empirical evidence. Okay? Great. So, the question is about "intangibles," which are pretty irrelevant and meaningless. So, let the guy have it!
Joe Morgan: Well, Sean, I agree with YOU. Those intangibles ARE important. To hear people downplay them, means to me that they don't understand them. The computer age that we are in does not look for intangibles or reward them or recognize them. It's a definite plus when a guy brings more than a batting average to the table. Derek Jeter is the best example that you can get of a guy that helps you win championships with his intangibles. I've played the game for a long time and I've been an analyst and I know just how important those intangibles are. I couldn't agree with you more.
Ken Tremendous: Oh, Joe. Joe Joe Joe...
Derek Jeter (Kalamazoo, MI): Hey, Joe? You can stop licking my balls, now.
Hey dudes. I'm tinkering with the look of the site. I've come across one feautre that I think is an upgrade -- if you click on "comments" for any of the posts, it's now a toggle kind of situation instead of opening a new window. I'm into it.
But if anyone has thoughts about the look, or whatever, e-mail me. I'll eventually delete this post.
In the second inning of tonight's Yankees-Tigers game, Ken Singleton pointed out that ARod is on a pace for about 60 HR and between 175-200 RBI. Then Jim Kaat wisely, insightfully, and impressively noted that were ARod to achieve those numbers, "he would have to be considered to be an MVP candidate."
In Buster Olney's May musings, he looks at the potential impact that losing Mark Loretta will have on the Padres and compiles a list of the position player that each team could ill-afford to lose. We all know where this is going, but I thought I'd continue anyway. The Yankees entry is of course Jeter, despite the fact that A) he hasn't won shit without Brosius, B) I seem to remember Jeter missing the first month of the season two years ago. The catastrophic result? The team went 18-3, best start in club history. Why doesn't anyone remember this? The Yanks win in spite of Jeter, a good contact hitter who often struggles defensively and is prone to take that extra base that causes announcers to have a spontaneous orgasm. We have seen this season what happens to this team when A-Rod (or Tino, for that matter) doesn't hit for them.
The following excerpt is from the preceding, quite marvelous post by Ken Tremendous:
Sean (NYC): hey joe, what was your favorite thing to eat for breakfast when you had a big game?
Joe Morgan: It varied. I didn't have a special Wheaties breakfast or anything like that. Sometimes if it was a doubleheader, I would eat pancakes or oatmeal. But regular games I had a regular breakfast. (emphasis mine)
Since when are pancakes and oatmeal not regular breakfasts??
I mean, really, to me, they're two of the only seven or so total foods I think of as part of "regular" breakfasts in traditional American cuisine.
Some highlights from Joe Morgan's latest ESPN.com chat:
Nick (Shakopee): Are Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau the best pair of young guys on a team? Will they be able to keep up their success? Will Jason Bartlett take ss back over?
Joe Morgan: I look at Joe Mauer and I see a lot of talent and a burning fire to succeed. I look at Morneau and I see a guy with a little more power. But they both have a desire to succeed and that is what it takes to succeed over the long haul.
Ken Tremendous: You in no way answered that man's question. And you used the word "succeed" three times. And, you are an idiot.
John, Dallas: Joe, Hardly anyone is talking about the streak that Kenny Rogers is on right now...30 consecutive scoreless innings. Why is that? And why do some pitchers get better with age?
Joe Morgan: I think we have seen that theory in Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, etc. As with hitters, you learn more about your craft as you get older. But what usually happens is once you learn everything, you can't execute because of your body getting older. But guys are staying in such good shape now, they CAN stay productive ast they get older.
Ken Tremendous: Joe, again, I'm sorry to interrupt, but the man asked about Kenny Rogers. Then you started talking about...nothing. So, maybe just try to answer the nice people's questions? Okay?
Mark (Allentown, PA): How will the Mets fair this weekend against those darn Yankees?
Joe Morgan: I think it will be a good barometer for the Mets. The Yanks are playing very well righ [sic] now. The Mets will find out what kind of team they really have.
Ken Tremendous: Joe, seriously. Just answer the question. Some possible answers to this question would include, "I think they'll win 2 of 3." Or, "I think the Yankees will sweep." Please. It's a chat. Answer the questions.
Chip (New York City): Joe, is it better for baseball, the tradition of the game and the reputation of the sport if Barry never returns to break Aaron's record?
Joe Morgan: No. I don't think you can put all that on one person. What about the players who have been proven guilty of wrongdoing? Barry has only been suspected at this point. Barry does bring a lot of energy to the ballpark and people love to watch him play. He needs to play and whatever happens happens.
Ken Tremendous: Sorry, Joe -- and again, I hate to interrupt, but Barry Bonds did steroids. He admitted it. Remember? It was all over the newspapers? it dominated -- absolutely fucking DOMINATED -- all discussion of sports for, like, six months (and counting). So, I know you have a crush on Barry Bonds and want him to be your boyfriend, but you cannot POSSIBLY say that "Barry has only been suspected at this point." And frankly you should be drummed out of the business for claiming that.
ANTAEUS (Venice Beach): Joe: loved you in The Naked Gun! Do you think Ken Griffey is healthy?
Joe Morgan: I did the game a couple weeks ago and he's not 100 percent. Again, it's about confidence.
Ken Tremendous: Again, sorry everyone, for interrupting. Joe -- it's not about "confidence." It's about torn hamstrings and blown knees. Ken Griffey Jr. has not missed all this playing time due to a strained confidence.
Mike: (Howell,NJ): Joe, How do you think Giambi looked at the plate over the West Coast trip? Is he coming around or is he never going to be that intimidating force at the plate again?
Joe Morgan: I think the problem is still how will he get his ABs? What about Bernie Williams? Ruben Sierra? Both gave the Yankees more than Giambi last season. The problem I have is watching Bernie hit a GS to win the game and then he doesn't play the next day but Giambi does and goes 1-4? Bernie is just as important is Giambi. He helped them win 4 WS titles.
Ken Tremendous: Okay, I really didn't want to interrupt here, but this has multiple problems. 1) You didn't answer the guy's question. At all. 2) Ruben Sierra is injured. 3) Bernie Williams sucks. 4) Giambi's numbers are better than both Ruben Sierra's and Bernie Wiliams's. And it is fabulously, wonderfully irrelevant that Bernie Williams helped the Yankees win 4 World Series titles. I dealt with this in a previous post, which you clearly have not read. 5) Are you serious when you are angry because Giambi went 1-4 in a game after Bernie hit a grand slam to win a game? Do you know what a small sample size is? Do you know what anything is? Have you seen a baseball game, ever? Please. Just try to answer people's questions.
Doug (NYC): Good Morning Joe. Clint Barmes - what is your long term predictions for him? Is he in the Derek Jeter neighborhood, even if its the Coors inflation factor?
Joe Morgan: I don't know how you can compare him to a guy with 4 world championships. I won't get into that.
Ken Tremendous: Joe, sorry -- the question was, what are your long-term predictions for one specific player. And then you compared him to what Jeter is today. And the statistical criterion you used was "world championships won." With which criterion, one could claim that Chad Curtis is a better left fielder than Ted Williams. So, again, please, just try to answer people's questions.
Mark (Allentown, PA): Do you see the Mets making any moves for some bullpen help any time soon??
Joe Morgan: There has to be somebody out there than can get somebody out. But can they pay the price? You have to have starters and closers. The Mets just have not been able to close games out. They need help, quick.
Ken Tremendous: So...sorry, you *do* see them making a move, then? Because you just typed a bunch of weird, like, zen nonsense. If you could just -- and I'm sorry for repeating myself -- but if you could just try to actually answer the questions people ask you, that would be great.
3FF (Arlington, VA): Sorry to keep harping on the Reds Joe, but you said they are already going downhill, does this mean Reds fans have seen the last of the Reds finishing near the top of the Central for a while?
Joe Morgan: The one thing about baseball is there are no flawless teams. You can turn things around quickly. You just have to be willing to spend some money and you have to make smart decisions. You can go last to first these days because ever team has weaknesses.
Ken Tremendous: Okay, now you're just being stubborn. Answer the man's question.
Hank (WV): Joe, What will happen with Robinson Cano? Should the Yanks finally keep a top prospect rather than trade him away?
Joe Morgan: I don't think they will trade him. They brought him up for a reason. They don't make trades with major leagues [sic]. They make trades with minor leaguers.
Ken Tremendous: Okay, but...this is stupid, right, Joe? You realize that 10 days ago, he was a minor leaguer. And that fairly often, when a contending team brings a prospect up in May, it's to audition him for a trade? And, also, didn't they recently trade Javier Vasquez, Brad Halsey, Alphonso Soriano...you know what? Forget this one. I'll let it slide. Because I'm growing faint from trying to get you to answer people's questions.
Chris (DC): What is the true impact of steroids in baseball? It appears as though injuries are up overall this year. Could steroids be a factor?
Joe Morgan: Anything could be a factor with injuries. Weather, ballparks, etc. It's a proven fact that steroids have had an impact. It helps you as a baseball player. It enhances your focus, your eyesight, your ability to feel like you can't be beat, and also helps you recover from injury, in addition to building strength.
Ken Tremendous: Joe, sorry -- um, "ballparks" are a factor in players' injuries? More than steroids? How? And also, um...and again, I hate to say this, but the last sentence is a crazy rambling nothing-jumble of words that has nothing to do with the question the man asked. So, please, Joe, answer the man's question.
Jack, minnesota: Is Mauer the best catcher in the bigs?
Joe Morgan: No. Ivan Rodriguez would still get my vote. You are talking to the wrong guy when you want to compare a guy in his first year to an established player has been around. How can we say a first year player is better than a veteran?
Ken Tremendous: First of all, Joe, congratulations on answering the man's question! Nice work. Really. However, you have answered it in a way that is fucking retarded. If I am to understand you, any veteran is better than any rookie? So, last year, Mike Matheny was better than Victor Martinez? When Ichiro was a rookie, he was not as good as Rich Aurillia? Do you have a functioning brain, Joe? Seriously. I'm worried about you.
Clint (NYC): Joe, please take my HOF question. Why isn't Keith Hernandez in? 11 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, MVP, World Series, .300 hitter, 2000+ hits. What's the problem??
Joe Morgan: I don't like to comment on players and their HOF things because I'm the Vice Chairman of the HOF Board. People take what I say out of context. If I say Keith belongs in the Hall, they take that to mean I think Gil Hodges shouldn't be. But to be honest, I don't even know why he's not in...
Ken Tremendous: Okay, Joe, I want you to read that again, and tell me what's wrong with it.
Sean (NYC): hey joe, what was your favorite thing to eat for breakfast when you had a big game?
Joe Morgan: It varied. I didn't have a special Wheaties breakfast or anything like that. Sometimes if it was a doubleheader, I would eat pancakes or oatmeal. But regular games I had a regular breakfast. I ate a lot of steak before night games.
Ken Tremendous: Okay, I'm excited. I think we have found a subject that allows Joe Morgan to answer the actual question he was asked. Does anybody else have a question for Joe about food?
Sean (NYC): so Joe, how much is "a lot of steak"?
Joe Morgan: I ate a steak every day! Every day! 5 times a week! Porterhouse to t-bone to filet .. you name it. We were always looking for protein. Football teams still feed their guys steak before a game. I still eat steak!
Ken Tremendous: Nice! Great job everybody. Look how excited Joe Morgan is to answer questions about food! This is great, great stuff. We have isolated the problem -- Joe Morgan should be a FOOD commentator, and not a baseball commentator. Someone get on this, stat, so he doesn't have to embarrass himself anymore.
So they just played a game on ESPN called "Keep 'Em Or Trade 'Em." Dan Patrick names a fantasy baseball player, and HR says whether he'd keep or trade that player.
Here's who he'd keep: Derek Lee John Garland Brian Roberts
And the three he'd trade: Randy Johnson Jim Thome Barry Bonds
>> Aside from the fact that this game is wicked retarded (because we don't know who these players are hypothetically being traded for), this is the exact opposite of who you should keep and trade.
One should trade players who are over-performing. And hold on to underachievers with a high likelihood of getting better. You can't get good value for Unit, Hats Off and The Umenema because they haven't done anything and they're huge injury risks. On the other side, you might be able to get a monster for Roberts or Lee becaue they're playing way over their heads right now.
"Tampa Bay can't flat-out bail on the season because of manager Lou Piniella, but the D-Rays should be open to making deals for Baez and Aubrey Huff."
>> Are you kidding me? Why does everyone have such a baseball-boner for Lou Piniella?
As of today, the Rays are 13 games -- 13 games -- out of first place. They're 11 1/2 games out of the Wild Card. And 8-16 against divisional opponents. If anyone other than the Royals should be flat-out bailing, it's the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
I don't know, maybe Lou Piniella is good enough to keep the Rays in the race...let's see, his lifetime managerial winning percentage is .523. So if the Rays could just play at that pace for the rest of the season, they'd finish at 76-86. That could be good enough to grab the Wild Card, right?
Am I reading this wrong? Is there another reason that the D-Rays can't bail on the season because of Lou Piniella? Does he have a rider in his contract that says the team can't phone it in? I'm kind of serious.
From the Sporting News Scout's View column on FoxSports.com:
"Kaz Matsui is not as good a runner as Ichiro."
Hmmm. What would make you say that? Let's take a look at their rookie seasons:
Matsui: 14 SB Ichiro: 56 SB
I don't know. Those numbers don't really say anything to me. What about this season?
Matsui: 2 SB Ichiro: 14 SB
What do major league scouts get paid to do, anyway?
Good thing that this particular scout chose to remain anonymous, because he could be fired for letting the rest of MLB know this dirty little secret about Kaz Matsui.
Also, are we just comparing these two dudes because they're Asian? They play different positions in different leagues, and one sucks while the other is a former MVP who gets like a million hits a season. And also, who ever said Matsui was as good as Ichiro at anything?
The commentators weigh in on the Sox' lack of sacrifice bunts on the year when Mark Bellhorn steps up to the plate. The play-by-play man remarks, rather accurately, that some of the "new-school" general managers can show you statistics that show that "hacking away" is actually a more effective strategy.
The color man remarks, rather inanely, that "as always, I think a mix of the old ways and the new ways is probably the way to go." Probably true, but not too incisive. He then comments that some teams use statistics and charts, while others "go with the flow and situations." What? Finally, he sums it up with "well, hey, if there were one best way to do things, then everyone would be doing it!"
This is simply not true.
That's not true in any industry. If there's one best way to make cars, why isn't every car factory exactly the same? Because people use rational thought and trial and error to continually improve what they do.
More importantly, I guess, if I worked at a lab that was trying to cure cancer and the head researcher said he was just going to make decisions based on "going with the flow and situations," I wouldn't feel too confident about our chances at curing cancer.
From his ESPN.com preview of the best interleague match-ups:
"Chicago White Sox-Chicago Cubs This is a series in which the White Sox could come in and steal some borderline Cubs fans. Believe me, I played for the Sox for a year and they need some fans. Sox players are treated like second-class citizens by the fans. If Paul Konerko and Derrek Lee both made reservations at the same time and at the same place and the restaurant only had room for one, then Konerko would be eating at McDonald's that night."
1. The word "fans" appears as the final word in each of the first three sentences. 2. What?
As we all know, before the season started, ESPN analyst and obese idiot John Kruk predicted that Randy Johnson would win 30 games this year. After Johnson's 3-2 start, ESPN analyst and blabbering fartbrain Harold Reynolds *reiterated* the prediction.
So, let's check in. After today's loss to the Mets, in which Johnson gave up 12 hits and 4 runs in 6.2 innings, Randy Johnson is now 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA. RJ is thus on pace for a 15-11 season. Is it possible for Kruk and HR to be correct? Absolutely!!! The Yankees are 22-21, so they have 119 games left. Johnson thus has roughly 24 starts left, if he stays healthy. So all he has to do is win every single one of his starts, and start throwing on three days rest around Sep. 1 to cram in two additional starts, and then win those. Or, maybe he can pick up a few wins out of the pen.
Anyway, I'm sure Krukie and HR know what they're talking about. Because they're both really really smart, and are not in any way stupid or terrible at their jobs. 30 wins for RJ, here we come!
Quote from the YES Network's Michael Kay-George Steinbrenner interview:
"[Steinbrenner] extolled one of his idols, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 'You've got to be able to enjoy accomplishing victory,' he said. 'Victory is important. Douglas MacArthur said it.'"
Remember the world before Douglas MacArthur said that? When no one was sure whether victory was important? And some sports teams, and armies, kept losing intentionally because they thought losing was important? Thank God MacArthur cleared that up for us. And Steinbrenner.
Also, "You've got to be able to enjoy accomplishing victory?"
All of the quotes I've read seem to have been translated into Japanese, and then back into English, by a small boy who does not speak either language.
4-for-4? More like 0-for-4,000,000-Good-Baseball-Writing-Opportunities!
Apparently, (future) Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg has a column on Yahoo! Sports called 4-for-4. The hook?
"Yahoo! Sports' MLB analyst Ryne Sandberg gives four answers to four pressing questions in the major leagues."
Will the answers be in any way satisfactory or well thought out? Sadly, the answer to that question is a resounding no. Does the correct answer in the previous sentence make me 1-1 for today's post? No, I choose not to frame my writing in a nugget-sized, at-bat-style format.
Most of Ryno's analysis is banal or self-evident. (Example: "The Yankees just got back to .500 and that's always the first sign for a team on the rise. Once you get to .500, you can make a move.") But there's one question that Sandberg fumbles particularly egregiously.
I think the Boston Red Sox outfielder has taken advantage of Fenway Park. He's very comfortable there hitting balls off the Green Monster, and he's been very constant in what he contributes year in and year out with his run production.
At this point of his career, Ramirez reminds me of Jim Rice and Andre Dawson. Both of them hit over 400 home runs in their careers, but they're not in the Hall of Fame yet. Ramirez could have six or seven years left and wind up with 500-plus home runs. At that point, you could talk about Manny as a Hall of Famer. But not now.
As far as I can tell, the first paragraph helps Manny’s cause.He hits well at home?Fantastic.He’s consistent with run production?Great.If Sandberg is trying to argue that Manny’s numbers are inflated because Fenway is a good hitter’s park, he certainly doesn’t present any evidence to suggest that that’s the case.I don’t have Manny’s Boston home and away splits in front of me, but why don’t we look at his years in Cleveland years just to do a quick and dirty check of whether Ramirez is actually a product of Fenway’s Green Monster?The following are Manny’s OPS+’s from the years 1995-2000, when he was a Cleveland Indian: 148, 145, 143, 146, 174, 185.In all five of those years, he was in the top ten in all of baseball in OPS+.In 1999 and 2000, he led the major leagues in OPS.
So I'm not sure what Ryne is trying to say there.
Then Sandberg compares Manny to Jim Rice and Andre Dawson, great players both, but really, how similar to Manny Ramirez are they? Off the top of my head, I would say not very.Let’s go to the numbers, the only tangible record of how all three hitters actually performed.Manny (without a real decline phase yet, of course) has a career OPS+ of 156, extraordinarily high.Willie Mays’ career OPS+ is 156. (With about a season and a half of serious decline at ages 41 and 42.Amazingly, Willie had an OPS+ of 160 when he was 40!)Rice and Dawson check in at 128 and 119, respectively.And I’m not just poaching OPS+ because it’s convenient and it proves my point.Dawson is a clearly inferior hitter who had power but generally did not draw walks and managed to play for a long time.Rice is closer, and he won the 1978 AL MVP, but outside of that one phenomenal year, you know how many other seasons he surpassed Ramirez’s average OPS+ of 156?Zero.Manny’s been above it the last six years and counting, including one crazy year of 190.
So what is Ryno’s point?That, like he says very clearly, Rice, Dawson, and Manny all have 400 homers and Rice and Dawson still aren’t in?This doesn’t make any sense.Manny is 32, and he’s still hitting very effectively.Why not compare Alex Rodriguez with all the guys who’ve hit 380 home runs in their whole careers even though he’s clearly better than all of them?
The point is, comparing home run totals for a player who is still in his prime to the totals of guys who are done with their careers really doesn’t help us all that much.To take it to an extreme, if a guy came in and hit 122 homers in one year, then retired, would he make the Hall of Fame?You certainly wouldn’t say, “Well, Jeff Blauser hit exactly 122 homers in his whole career, too, and he sure ain’t in the Hall.”You would measure how much better this god-like player was than the rest of the field for that one season, and weigh it against the fact that he only contributed that single season to his resume.And then you would decide.
Thanks for not answering the question of Manny Ramirez's Hall-worthiness at all, Ryne Sandberg.
In re: the article below: my goodness. Joe Morgan, in an article ostensibly about Tino Martinez and his leadership of the Yankees, suddenly and inexplicably starts talking about Roger Clemens:
"Debating Clemens' Place in History Given Clemens' continued success (3-1, 1.11 ERA), some have said he is the greatest living pitcher. But, to me, he isn't better than Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax (and perhaps Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton). And I'm as big a fan of Roger Clemens as there is – not only because of his pitching but also because I admire him as a person.
"Clemens' longevity and sustained excellence are impressive, and so are his record seven Cy Young awards. But at this point, I won't say he's the greatest living pitcher. I've never seen Clemens win the seventh game of a World Series, but I have seen Gibson and Koufax do just that."
So, Clemens isn't as good as Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson because he hasn't won a Game 7? That is wonderfully stupid. Clemens has had some memorable post-season failures, but he also threw a two-hitter in the 2000 World Series and since he left Boston has been pretty damned good. In seven WS starts he's 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA, has given up 33 H in 47.3 IP, and has a 48/12 K/BB. But he's never won a Game Seven -- even though he pitched very very well in Game Seven against the D-Backs in 2001, but the Yankees only scored one run for him -- so he's not as good as Gibson or Koufax. That's like saying he's not as good as Len Barker because he's never thrown a perfect game. Or that Cal Ripken isn't as good as Bert Campenaris because Ripken never played all 9 positions in one nine-inning game.
"I've always said that Willie Mays is the greatest player I ever saw, though some guys have better numbers (Hank Aaron hit more home runs, Roberto Clemente had a higher batting average). But Mays is still the best I saw."
This is a poorly-written paragraph. (Not as bad as some he's written.) But this is a poorly-written paragraph.
"Clemens belongs in the same category as elite pitchers like Gibson and Koufax – but he isn't better than them. If my team needed to win Game 7 in the World Series, I'd want Gibson or Koufax on the mound. Remember, this is subjective. Someone else might pick Clemens in that situation, and he would be a good choice. He just wouldn't be my choice."
How many times is he going to explain this? And how does this have anything to do with Tino Martinez? Oh, wait -- here we go:
"Back to the Yankees: Torre is facing a dilemma with the DH position. Since a lineup shakeup moved Matsui to center field, the Yanks have three hitters for one DH spot: Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams (the usual CF) and Ruben Sierra (when he comes off the disabled list)... I'm just trying to figure out how he and Williams (and later Sierra) will get at-bats.
"Remember, Williams was part of four Yankee world championships, whereas Giambi has yet to help the Yankees win a World Series. So I don't see how the Yankees can push Bernie aside by focusing on getting at-bats for Giambi. Yes, Giambi has won an MVP, but this decision must been based on current performance."
If you want to base it on current performance, what does Williams winning World Series rings, or Giambi not winning World Series rings, have to do with anything? Seriously, does he even read these things before he posts them?
But, fine, okay. Let's base it on current performance.
There is no question who should be the Yankee DH right now. Williams is done. Giambi is almost done, but he's 120 OPS points less done than Williams.
Why am I upset about this? I hope the Yankees listen to him. Play Bernie Williams because he won World Series rings. Trade Matsui and ARod for Adam Kennedy, because neither Matsui nor ARod has ever hit three home runs in a postseason game. Get rid of Mike Mussina because he's never eaten a hundred hot dogs in less than an hour.
I am honestly beginning to wonder whether Joe Morgan has ever played in, seen, or heard about a major league baseball game.
"I still believe that Dontrelle Willis is going to win the Cy Young in the National League, and I think experience plays a big role, in the fact that he pitched out of the bullpen, and he came back last year, and was able to pitch a full complete season. It's really his only [sic?] second year pitching a full year."
The chyron at the bottom while he said this, by the way, read: "Dontrelle Willis: Experience will get him Cy Young"
Let's look a little closer at this. Now, how will Dontrelle Willis' experience help get him the Cy Young? HJM has four points:
1.) "He pitched out of the bullpen." >>I didn't remember Dontrelle Willis pitching out of the bullpen. Do you? No, you don't, and I'll tell you why. Because Dontrelle Willis has never pitched out of the bullpen in the major leagues. Ever. He has played in 67 games. He has started every single one of them. In his minor league stint in 2003, as far as I can tell, he pitched in six games and started all of them. Maybe HR meant that Willis has pitched in the bullpen. Like, before a game. Maybe that would help him win the Cy Young? Come to think of it, even if he had pitched out of the bullpen -- how the hell would that help him win the Cy Young this year? Is John Smoltz a bettter pitcher now that he spent some time closing games? Does pitching out of the bullpen help pitchers get better? Why not, then, send every pitcher to the bullpen for a short stint? Harold, even if you weren't wrong, what the hell are you talking about?
Edit: As Murblop points out in the comments page, Dontrelle Willis did actually pitch out of the bullpen in the 2003 playoffs. But still, honestly...fire Harold Reynolds, too.
2.) "He came back last year..." >>This is actually a very good point. If he hadn't come back last year, he might not be pitching this year. And if you're not pitching, it is difficult to win the Cy Young Award.
3.) "...and was able to pitch a full complete season." >>Okay, he was able to pitch a full season, almost without a glitch. Thirty-two starts. How this separates him from the rest of the pack...I have no idea. Brandon Webb started 35 games last year. Maybe he can win the Cy Young. He pitched even more of a "full complete season" than Dontrelle Willis!
4.) "It's really only his second year pitching a full year." >>First of all, not really. Second of all, is that a good thing? Dontrelle started 27 games in 2003. He won the Rookie of the Year Award. Dontrelle started 32 games in 2004. Going into 2005, he had pitched a total of 357.2 innings in two seasons. Wouldn't we say this is his third year pitching a full year? I would. Certainly closer to three than two. And once again, I have no idea how -- even if this were true -- this would make the D-Train more qualified to win the CYA. You know who won the NL CYA last year? Roger Clemens. He started playing Major League Baseball in 1984.
Which really brings us to the larger point, the idiocy of the argument to begin with. If experience helps pitchers win CYAs, then why would Dontrelle Willis -- in his second or third or whatever full year -- be the favorite to win?
If experience gets you the Cy Young Award...how about John Fucking Franco?
Not to be a dick here, or to in any way say that HR is not a total idiot, but Dontrelle Willis did have 5 total relief appearances in the 2003 postseason. In the World Series, he had 3 relief appearances and 0 starts. I think that is what he's referring to.
But still. The dude's a moron, and his "experience" arguments are butarded.
And Who's Going to Beat Bonds's Record? Tino Martinez?
Harold Reynolds, perhaps upset at the lack of him-related posts on this board, steps up big tonight during a discussion of who is going to break Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. John Kruk, in a remarkably un-Joe-Morgan-like moment, suggested Ichiro. That makes sense, considering that Ichiro set an all-time season mark for hits last year. Does HR agree?:
"I don't think that anybody's going to do it," Reynolds said on Sunday. "But if anyone could, [Brian Roberts would be the guy]. Here's four quick reasons why. One: The lineup he's in. Two: He's a switch-hitter. Three: He's a guy who can bunt for hits. Four: He's the kind of hitter who's going to see a lot of fastballs."
One: the line-up he's in? Ichiro was in a terrible line-up last year. And he had like 500 hits.
Two: He's a switch hitter. Joe Dimaggio was not a switch hitter. Nor were 90% of the greatest hitters in history. Granted, Pete Rose was, so this isn't an entirely stupid thing to say. But...
Three: He can bunt for hits? Ichiro can't? Have you watched Ichiro play recently? He gets like four infield hits a game. He beats out routine grounders to the left side. He beat out a *smashed* grounder to *first* against Boston yesterday. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets more infield hits than Ichiro.
Four: He's the kind of hitter who sees a lot of fastballs. Okay. Great. I think HR means that he gets a lot of fastballs because the rest of the line-up is good, which is point #1 that he made. Right? Can anyone think of another reason?
Also, Brian Roberts? He's had a really good six weeks. And he's got the best chance to break a record most think is unbreakable. Not Albert Pujols. Not Ichiro, the guy who has AVERAGED 231 hits a season over his first four full seasons. Brian Roberts.
Congratulations, Harold Joe Reynolds Morgan! We are on notice: you will not be out-retarded!
Time to introduce a new segment on F(E-AW)JM; it's called "No, John Kruk, You Are Wrong." Here's how we play...
From BBTN a couple nights ago -- and thanks to Coach for the assist on this one.
When asked who the Giants needed more, Barry Bonds or Jason Schmidt, John Kruk replied (as close to verbatim as I can remember): "Jason Schmidt. The Giants don't have a lot of good starting pitching. Sure, Barry Bonds is a great hitter, he's the best player in the game, but Jason Schmidt is harder to replace."
So, it's easier to replace Barry Bonds -- who Kruk admits is the best player in the game -- than it is to replace a pitcher with a 4.71 ERA so far this season?
Another Tim Kurkjian misfire (and I'm as surprised as Coach was -- I normally like this guy):
"The Arizona lineup is filled with former All-Stars, led by Luis Gonzalez, who missed most of last season after having surgery on his right elbow. He is healthy. So is Glaus. So is new right fielder Shawn Green, whose shoulder finally healed the last two months of 2004. With those three in the middle of the order, the Diamondbacks have a lineup that is better than any that they used last year. Still, they haven't hit much, but that is certain to change."
"Certain to change?" Why? Because Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green are former all-stars? And that fact will help them compensate for being old and not that good? This is insane. The D-Backs have been OUTSCORED by 23 runs heading into tonight's game. They have overperformed in a small sample size of games. They are not going to win the admittedly terrible NL West, unless you can win the division with a 79-83 record.
Everyone just cool out in re: the Diamondbacks, please.
The usually reliable Tim Kurkjian acted like a certain former two-time blMVP today on PTI. When asked why home runs were down 9% this year, he spent one passable minute discussing how a majority of ballplayers looked smaller as compared to four years ago, careful not to raise the s-flag, and one banal minute claiming that formerly prolific sluggers such as Sosa, Bonds and Palmeiro were aging, contributing to the lower figure. So far, some poor to average analysis. He then spent one absolutely egregious minute attributing the league-wide drop in taters to a minor resurgence in pitching over the past five years, with guys such as Prior and Oswalt entering the league. TK closes, "so pitching is coming back slowly, with a lot of guys throwing 95 miles per hour." Now if home runs, and runs in general, are down this year, TK, why is improved pitching a causal factor instead of a simple result? Did no good pitchers enter the league between 1987 and 2000? What of Thomas Glavine, Randolph Johnson, Patrick Hentgen, Peter Martin, et al.? And what does velocity have to do with any of it? You have exactly 120 good seconds to set this right, TK.
In John Kruk's latest ESPN insider column, he states: "The Chicago White Sox have the ability to outlast the Baltimore Orioles down the stretch in terms of being the surprise team simply because of their respective divisions."
Does this mean that they will outlast the Orioles in terms of wins or in terms of their surprisingness? In other words, is he saying that they will continue to be surprising for the remainder of the season? I kind of like the idea of going to check the scores and every day saying to myself "Holy shit! The White Sox are still in first! Oh my god!"
He then proceeds to explain why the White Sox will be a contender without citing a single statistic, choosing instead to base his argument around his belief that the White Sox are very good at "getting inside the other team's head" with their aggressive play. So, let me get this straight. The White Sox are winning because they put pressure on the other teams' fielders to make perfect throws and they make pitchers too nervous to throw strikes. You sure it isn't because they have a pitching staff that is wildly overperforming? You sure it isn't Jon Garland being 7-0 with a WHIP .50 less than his career average? Do you think it has something to do with the fact that batters are hitting .197 off of Jose Frigging Contreras? Or that 388 year old Orlando Hernandez has an ERA a full run lower than his career average? Or that Dustin Hermanson, the most unremarkable pitcher in history, has 7 saves, a 0.81 WHIP, and a 0.00 ERA?
Later, Kruk comments on the difficulties Charlie Manuel has had in adjusting to the National League. He writes:
Recently Manuel went on talk radio and said he sometimes forgets the pitcher is coming up to hit when his No. 7 guy is up. That's not the type of talk that Phillies fans want to hear from their manager. In addition to that he recently forgot to double-switch closer Billy Wagner when Wagner came in to pitch the eighth inning. That resulted in Wagner's leading off the next inning! Now this is a guy (Wagner) who's coming off leg injuries and has enough fire in his belly that he's going to run hard if he hits the ball. Why would a manager put him in a situation where he could injure himself and be out of the game for a while?
Those types of statements and actions don't endear people to the Phillies fans.
Can someone parse that last sentence for me? How could Charlie Manuel's poor managerial decisions possibly affect people's opinion of Phillies fans? I assume he means Manuel is not endearing himself to Phillies fans, but that's not how that sentence reads at all.
John Kruk should have gone to Harvard like the rest of us.
Remember what he said? That somehow Moyer is better (or something) than Pedro, Schilling, et al.? (That post is below.)
Now, look at some ESPN info on Moyer (after he lost 12-9 to the Yankees on May 11):
"The Mariners looked as though they would salvage a second win on their six-game road trip, but Moyer couldn't make the generous run support hold up. The 42-year-old left-hander failed in his third attempt to set the Mariners' record for career victories. He is tied with Randy Johnson, now with the Yankees, at 130 wins.
After starting the season 4-0 in his first five starts, Moyer has allowed 16 earned runs and 33 hits in his next three outings that totaled 8 2-3 innings. The Mariners are 0-3 in those games."
From the 2003 Home Run Derby, currently playing on ESPN:
Gary Sheffield at the plate. JMOTD Alex Rodriguez doing color commentary:
"When you have a great swing like Gary Sheffield, it can be even harder to hit home runs."
Joe Morgan chimes in:
"It's true. Anytime you have a great stroke, if you're swinging a hot bat, it can be harder to hit the ball out of the ballpark in a contest like this."
>>I swear to you this is what they said. I tuned in just as the commentary began, so I have no idea what led up to it. And I had to turn it off one minute later when HJM Chris Berman started doing his impression of Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson.
I knew you'd write something stupid, you old fart of a washed-up, retarded NY Times baseball reporter!
And here it is:
The explanation is so obvious, it's difficult to understand why no one has thought of it. The Yankees are enduring their worst start to a season in the 10-year Joe Torre era, and one person who had been with the Yankees for that entire era is missing this year. Instead of helping Torre catapult the Yankees into another dominant lead in the division, Willie Randolph is managing the Mets - and doing a first-rate job at it.
...[Yesterday's] 7-5 victory over Philadelphia improved the Mets record to 15-14, including 12-11 in their division. The Yankees, after losing to Tampa Bay by 6-2 last night, had an 11-18 record, including 9-14 in their division.
Okay. The reason the Yankees are struggling, the reason they're 11-18, is because of the absence of WILLIE RANDOLPH?
The former bench coach?
Not an aging line-up. Not Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Ruben Sierra, and Tony Womack being terrible hitters. Not Randy Johnson being injured after a sub-par start. Not Jaret Wright being a $21 million mistake, and also being injured. Not Carl Pavano and Mike Mussina being mediocre. Not Tom Gordon and Paul Quantrill being terrible, or Tanyon Sturtze being terrible and also injured. Not any of these things.
The reason they are struggling is because they didn't retain Willie Randolph.
Their bench coach.
Who, for the record, is a shitty manager. 15-14 is no great shakes. It's about right for that team. A team that added Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez in the off season.
Now read this, from the same article (it's long, but worth reading):
"Consider what Randolph did yesterday. In a move calculated to test his other players and learn something about his team, he took his hottest hitter out of the lineup and won without him. Cliff Floyd, with a 20-game hitting streak, longest in the major leagues this season, had been carrying the Mets, leading the team with a .391 batting average, 8 home runs, 25 runs batted in, a .701 slugging percentage and a .443 on-base percentage.
Take that bat out of the lineup when the Mets are trying to snatch every victory they can get? What kind of a rookie move is that?
Randolph, however, knows that the Mets can't rely on Floyd to produce that kind of offense all season. Even if Floyd were to remain hot for the next five months, which we know he will not, the Mets would need other hitters - Mike Piazza, Mike Cameron, David Wright - to contribute for them to win consistently. So Randolph quietly put the challenge before Floyd's teammates, and they responded.
Piazza, batting .198 when the game began, slugged four hits, including a three-run home run that turned out to be the decisive blow. Wright socked a tie-breaking two-run double. Cameron, who had missed the first 28 games with a wrist injury, began his season by drilling a pair of doubles.
Floyd watched it all from the bench. So did Randolph.
"I'm looking at the long haul," Randolph said afterward. "The guy's in a nice little groove, but I think it's more important to look at the big picture. One guy isn't going to carry us and do everything for us. I came in feeling this way and thinking this way, and I'm not going to change."
He did not want to "try to milk him for every little thing because he's in a streak," Randolph said of Floyd, adding, "It's more important what he's going to do the next few weeks and month."
Randolph didn't say that by resting Floyd he was seeking to learn something about his other players, but that was what he had in mind. It was a bold move for a rookie manager, one that could have backfired if the other hitters had not met the unspoken challenge. But they did, and that was the point.
Oh my God. This is a good managerial move? Sitting your hottest player? Maybe if he just wanted him to get a day of rest, fine, whatever. But Chass states authoritatively that this is not the reason Randolph did it. It was to test the mettle of the other gus on the team? Whaaaat?
And then Randolph says: "The guy's in a nice little groove, but I think it's more important to look at the big picture. One guy isn't going to carry us and do everything for us. I came in feeling this way and thinking this way, and I'm not going to change."
What does that mean? What is the "big picture?" Why not keep him in the line-up to help the other guys feel less pressure? And does anyone really think that Mike Piazza had four hits yesterday because Cliff Floyd wasn't in the line-up? (They were playing the Phillies. A bad team with a bad pitching staff.) What kind of insane sense does that make?
Murray Chass and Willie Randolph. A match made in heaven.
First of all, thanks to DAK for changing the title of this blog. It makes our mission that much clearer.
Second, here's a couple sentences from MSNBC sports reporter Ted Robinson:
"With Gonzalez, Glaus and Green there is plenty of punch in the middle of Arizona's lineup. The Diamondbacks have pretty good players at all the positions, and there are no massive holes evident when looking at this team."
Okay. The D-Backs are off to a decent start, but let's look at their line-up from last night's game (and those players' BA after the game was over):
C Counsell 2B .272 R Clayton SS .242 L Gonzalez LF .342 T Glaus 3B .269 L Terrero RF .200 C Tracy 1B .275 K Hill C .194 b-A Cintron PH .279 Q McCracken CF .203 S Estes P K Ligtenberg P a-M Kata PH .227
Craig Counsell is your lead-off hitter? A nice little player, but he's 34 and has a career OPS of .692. (Though he is getting on base a lot this year, with a .419 OBP). Royce Clayton is your #2 hitter? 35 year-old Royce Clayton? With a .619 OPS this year? That's a massive hole. Gonzo is off to a hot start, and certainly can't be called a hole, but he is 37 and missed the last part of the year last year with injuries. Glaus I have always liked, and think he'll have a good year. Luis Terrero in the 5-hole? (He's not really a starter, but still.) Normally it's 9-million dollar man Shawn Green in right, and this year he's .264/.325/.409/.734 in 110 AB. Anyone who'd watched him in L.A. the last few years knows how cooked he really is. Chad Tracy is okay, and apparently has a "high ceiling," but he's in his second year and he's starting at first. They've got a rookie catcher in Koyle Hill, they've got Quinton McCracken in center, they've got Brandon Lyon closing, they're relying on Russ Ortiz and Javy Vasquez to win all their games...
This is a team with huge holes. They need about five rookies to have phenomenal years if they're going to win 85 games. The NL West is terrible, but saying the D-Backs haven't been a little lucky is truly Morganesque.
From Jerry Crasnik's ESPN.com article on the Pirates:
A National League scout who watched Pittsburgh get swept by San Francisco thinks the Pirates will be hard-pressed to win 75 games this season. "They don't know how to manufacture runs, they don't know how to move runners, and they don't know how to make their hits count,'' said the scout.
They may also be hard-pressed to win 75 games because they aren't very good.
"Manufacturing" runs is, as all four of us who post on this board know, a meaningless phrase that equates to "giving away outs." "Moving runners" is part of manufacturing runs. And as for "making their hits count," well, I'm not sure how you can make your hits count. It seems like you gets hits or you don't. The Pirates are 27th in the league in OBP, 26th in SLG, and thus 26th in OPS. But there is hope. They are 13th in P/PA, 18th in BB/PA. Not fantastic, but better than you might expect given their record and the fact that they've scored 91 runs this year. This says to me that they've gotten a little unlucky, maybe, at the plate, and that they have underachievers, as evidenced by Jack Wilson's .219 SLG. Yikes.
Their real long-term problem, Mr. Scout, is probably that they are 25th in DEF EFF and don't have any pitching. Not that they don't know how to "make their hits count."
"I want to thank all my colleagues at ESPN, especially those I work with on Sunday and Wednesday Night Baseball, for their involvement in my winning an Emmy award this week (in the Event Analyst category)."
Steve Phillips has written an article for ESPN.com Insider, where he names his "All-Underrated Team." The whole thing is pretty stupid, but take a look at these excerpts. Remember, it's the all-underrated team.
Shortstop: Omar Vizquel, San Francisco Giants In the steroid era of baseball, we have been consumed by the home run. Vizquel is not a power hitter, but he is a power fielder...
What? Also, Vizquel is not underrated. He's a 38 year-old highly-paid shortstop with a .700 lifetime OPS and a range factor below the league average.
(Honorable mention): Miguel Tejada, Baltimore Orioles – Nobody who has driven in 150 runs in a season should be underrated. This guy is the best shortstop in Orioles history. Sorry, Cal.
Best shortstop in Orioles' history? After like 180 games? How about let's wait for another 2000 before we declare that?
Third base (Honorable mention): Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees – Yankee fans don't appreciate A-Rod's talent nearly as much as they should.
That is insane. Just because Yankee fans might or might not "appreciate" ARod has nothing to do with whether he is underrated. He is not underrated. Everyone in the universe thinks he's the greatest all-around player, or one of the top 5, in the game.
Left field: (Honorable mention): Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees – It's hard to underrate a guy named Godzilla, but he's so understated that he doesn't get his just due. The Yankees need him now, that's for sure.
Why is it hard to underrate a guy whose nickname is Godzilla? I don't understand. Is it hard to underrate Terrmel Sledge because his nickname is "The Sledgehammer?" Also, Matsui is hitting .245/.328/.402/.730, and has a terrible throwing arm and average speed.
Center field: Brad Wilkerson, Washington Nationals. Any guy who has hit for the cycle twice in his career should be better known.
This is also insane. That's like saying that Tony Cloninger was underrated as a hitter because he once drove in nine runs in a game. Hitting for the cycle is 70% fluke, 30% talent. Wilkerson *is* underrated, but his having hit for the cycle twice is not the reason.
Starting pitcher: Jamie Moyer, Seattle Mariners Moyer is 4-0 thus far, and he's done so at the age of 42, when most other older pitchers are going down like flies. You might be asking, "Yeah, but does that make him underrated?" Well, who has more career wins, John Smoltz or Moyer? The answer is Moyer, who has 196 compared to 165 for Smoltz. Moyer or Pedro Martinez? Moyer again, 196 to 185. And one last one: Moyer or Curt Schilling? Moyer again, 196 to 185. I rest my case.
Moyer is 42, says Phillips. That's older than Smoltz and Schilling. Plus, Smoltz has been in the bullpen for years. And Moyer is NINE YEARS older than Pedro, who trails him by only 11 wins. What does this teach us? That 35 year-old Dave McCarty is better than 23 year old Mark Teixera because McCarty has more hits (365 to 320)? Add that to the fact that wins are a terrible measuring stick of a pitcher's effectiveness, and you get Steve Phillips's dumbest comment yet.
Manager: (Honorable mention): Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves – He makes the list because his teams beat my teams for six consecutive years, and I'm finally now over it.
Granted, this is a joke, but Bobby Cox is not underrated. At all.
Also of note: Steve Phillips selection for second base? Jeff Kent.
Yes, THAT Jeff Kent. The four time All Star. The 2000 NL MVP. The guy with a career .857 OPS. The guy who has been (not so) arguably the best offensive second baseman of the last seven years. The guy who Phillips notes "has the record for most home runs ever by a second baseman."
The reason he is underrated? He has never been the best or highest paid player on his team.
In the broadcast of the 2004 Home Run Derby, Joe Morgan commented that now, Barry Bonds is more than just a home run hitter -- he hits for average, too.
In 17 seasons since turning 23, Barry Bonds hit above the league average in 15 of them, in most cases far far above. Once, he tied the league average. Was there an upturn in his batting average late in his career? Yes, but this upturn started in 2001, a full three years before Joe Morgan made his observation.
In 2004, it was hardly news that Barry Bonds is good at hitting for average as well as power.
A few days ago, I wrote of Joe Morgan's comments in re: Christian Guzman, and how he was the kind of "veteran" who would "thrive" in the nation's capital. In tonight's ESPN game (Mets-Nationals) Joe made two choice comments about Guzman. (I was on a plane, so forgive the lack of direct quotation.)
First, in a game tied 3-3, Guzman was standing on second base with no outs in the 7th inning. Nick Johnson, Jose Vidro, and Jose Guillen, the 2-3-4 hitters, were due up. So what did Guzman do? He tried to steal 3rd. And got thrown out. Now, any color analyst worth his salt would excoriate a player who tries to steal 3rd with no outs in a tie game in the 7th inning WITH A LEFT-HANDED HITTER at the plate and the three best hitters on the team trying to knock him in. My goddamn *cat* would point out how stupid that is. But Joe Morgan? He says, "It's not necessarily a bad play."
Yes it is. It is unquestionably a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid play. There is NO ADVANTAGE to being on 3rd with no outs at that moment. If Nick Johnson, who has terrific bat control, can simply ground to the right side (he had, to that point, walked, lined a 2-run single to right, and lined out hard to first), Guzman is standing on 3rd as the go-ahead run.
Then, in the ninth, with the Nats now down 6-3, Guzman leads off with a drive into the right field corner. He should have stopped at 2nd, down by three, but instead stretched it into a triple, beating the throw easily. Now, again, one might expect Joe Morgan to point out that there is no sense risking getting to third, as your team is down by three in the ninth, and that even though he got in fairly easily, it's a terrible baserunning decision -- one no doubt motivated by the fact that Guzman hopped up and down in anger when called out trying to steal in the 7th. Instead, Morgan praised Guzman's baserunning skills and talked glowingly about his "aggressive style of play."
I guess what I'm saying is, Joe Morgan has a crush on Christian Guzman.
Kruk's biggest surprise: Mark Mulder "After last year's debacle at the end of the season, I thought he was done. I didn't think he had anything left. I think he's proven me wrong."
Let's all stand up and applaud Mr. Kruk for his bravery in admitting that a 27 year old lefthander who, in his first four complete MLB seasons averaged 18 wins with a 3.62 ERA, wasn't quite "done" after all.
Sure, Mulder had a pretty shitty second half last year. But he also had an pretty dominant first half. In April, May, and June he was 10-2 with a 2.91 ERA and a .229 BAA. He started the All Star game for crissakes.
I guess the lesson for major league players is this: even if you've established yourself as one of the games most promising young pitchers, DO NOT have a bad half season or John Kruk will pronounce you "done."
MM- Big fan of your work. I'd like to add an item from John Kruk's "April Awards" that was a awesome exercise in nonsensibility. In this segment, JK named as his "Most Improved Player" for the young 2005 season a spry up-and-comer by the name of Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones. A career .304 hitter, Jones was apparently not alone in believing that he had yet to reach his ceiling despite being a 5-time All-Star, averaging 31 home runs a year and winning the 1999 Award for Most Value, National League. Jones scuffled through the 2004 campaign with a paltry .248/30/96/.362 stat line, and Kruk again pronounced this cornerstone player dead. After a .369/4/14/.505 month however, Jones has surpassed the likes of Brian Roberts(!?), John Garland, John Patterson and Derrek Lee as Most Improved Player for the month. All because, as Kruk says, "He hit in the .200's last year. Now he's up over .300 and has to be a big bat in the middle of that Braves lineup for them to win ballgames."