John Kruk, who is a MENSA-level genius, has this to say about Manny Ramirez:
When is this guy going to be held responsible for his actions? I understand that sometimes a star player gets special treatment, but this is supposed to be a team game in which every player is responsible for his team and he doesn't seem to understand or care. He just goes about his business without any fear of reprisal from management or his teammates and that's not right. When I played, there was no way I could have gotten away with this type of behavior, and neither could anyone else on the team.
John Kruk has mounted his horse, and he is going to ride it all the way to Indignationville! Because Manny Ramirez is not being a professional, and John Kruk has some words for him, by gum! This would have never stood in John Kruk's day. For example, John Kruk played on the 1993 Phillies. If Manny Ramirez tried any of this nonsense on the 1993 Phillies, someone would have held his feet to the fire. If Manny tried this B.S. on the 1993 Phillies, Lenny Dykstra would have taken the hypodermic needle out of his ass and marched right over to Manny and said, "Hey! Be a professional!" Dykstra's words might have carried some respect, since -- totally coincidentally -- he was in the midst of a year where he set statistically improbable personal highs in every major offensive category. (He was working really hard in the weight room, I guess.) Also, Dykstra's words may have carried respect because his sheer physical size had exploded so much in so short a time that one of the Phillies announcers took to calling him "Lenny Kruk" when he came to the plate.
But if Dykstra had approached Manny, things might have gotten heated. So heated, that maybe Jeff Scott, the convicted felon who, in a sworn affidavit, said that he "hug out with about half" of the 1993 Phillies, providing them with drugs, would have had to come over and break things up. Maybe Kruk could have pulled Dykstra aside and given him a cigarette, since the two of them used to smoke cigarettes on the bench -- in full view of the fans -- during games. Or maybe they could have just done a line of coke, as dozens of whispered reports suggested they did all the time.
Or maybe Pete Incaviglia, who hit 11 HR in 1991 and 1992, but who hit a mysterious 24 in 1993, would have stepped in and restored some professionalism to the clubhouse. Or Danny Jackson, the pitcher (pitcher!) who was nicknamed "The Incredible Hulk" because of how muscular he was, could have knocked some professionalism into Manny. If not, surely Dutch Daulton, who had 105 RBI in 1993 but never played in more than 98 games in any subsequent season due to a series of injuries (he was only 31 in 1993; maybe the injuries were the result of eating too many Froot Loops?), and who was beloved for what amounted to erratic and bizarre behavior, would have gone up to Manny and said, "Settle down. Act properly."
Or, wait -- I know what would have happened if Manny had acted unprofessionally in John Kruk's era. Lenny Dykstra's best friend, who allegedly helped him bet on baseball games, including those of the self-same 1993 Phillies, could have talked some sense into Manny over the phone, after taking Dykstra's wager on that afternoon's Twins-Brewers game. That would have worked. Maybe Dykstra, the notorious high-stakes gambler, who was linked to a gambling probe in Mississippi in 1991, could have helped matters by telling Manny that he, Dykstra, would bet heavily on Ramirez for the rest of the year in order to give Manny an incentive to play. And Kruk could have backed him up. After all, Kruk probably felt like he owed Dykstra some support, since a few months after Dykstra was linked to gambling on baseball, Dykstra broke his collarbone in a car wreck after John Kruk's bachelor party and missed several months of the season.
So, go get 'em, Krukie! Don't let these modern-day weirdos sully the reputation of your straight-arrow, play-the-right-way 1993 Phillies. You guys were the model for baseball player behavior. Is it possible that all of this is simply conjecture? That everyone on your team, more or less, had statistically improbably great years? That no one on the Phillies was using steroids or gambling on baseball or doing drugs or anything? Absolutely. And I will bet everything I own in the world that some of you were doing some combination of using steroids and drugs and gambling on baseball.
Think I'm being unfair? Think it's wrong to bring all this stuff up when you are accusing Manny of a different crime? Well, you did say, and I quote, "this is supposed to be a team game in which every player is responsible for his team. He just goes about his business without any fear of reprisal from management or his teammates and that's not right." So, way to call out your guys for everything they did back in the day. Let's see how you did that: (from cantstopthebleeding.com)
“Let me tell you, we partied hard on that team."
But what about Jeff Scott?
“I never heard of the guy, never saw anybody like that,” Kruk said.
Does Habeeb’s claim [that Scott "hug out with half the team"] bother Kruk?
“Not at all,” the former first baseman said. “If you listened to everything people said about us, you’d think we were all alcoholics, drug addicts and steroid users. I wish we had that much fun.”
Didn't you just talk about how hard you partied?
“One year [Dykstra] weighed next to nothing and the next he was all bulked up,” Kruk said. “I heard reporters wondering what he was on, so I asked him. I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘I just worked hard.’ I believed him. I had no reason not to believe him. He’d never lied to me before, and I knew he was big into weight lifting.
“You know, so many guys were getting big at that time from weights. When I first came in the league, I thought Jack Clark and Steve Garvey were big. Then all of sudden it seemed like everyone was that big. To me, Lenny was no different.”
Good work, Krukie. You're a goddamn hero. And for the record, you dunderhead, several of Manny's teammates, including Curt Schilling, David Wells, and Tim Wakefield, publicly or privately called Manny on his behavior. And as for management, well, they tried to get rid of him. So really, when you think about it, what the fuck are you complaining about?
After Randy Johnson struck out Macier Izturis in the second:
Randy gets his first strike out of the game, as he continues to chase the great Nolan Ryan for strikeouts.
Coming into today: Nolan Ryan: 5714 K's. Randy Johnson: 4303 K's. Nolan Ryan has roughly a third again as many K's. And Randy Johnson is almost 42. To say Randy Johnson is "chasing" Nolan Ryan is like saying that I, Ken Tremendous, with zero lifetime no-hitters, am chasing Nolan Ryan's career record of seven no-hitters.
Tim McCarver Uses Small, Wrong Words II; Has Temporal Breakdown I
As Torre comes to get Gordon out of the game:
"You look at that tacky seventh inning, and that kind of opened the gates for the Angels here in the eighth."
To be fair, the Angels were being incredibly tacky in the seventh, flaunting their new jewelry and donning various garishly-colored hats. And to be fair again, the seventh and eighth innings of today's game, somewhat untraditionally, were played concurrently.
After an inning in which the Angels scored four runs thanks to an error, a balk, and some hits.
"For a team to have exhibited the proficiency that the Yankees have over the last ten years, this is one of those collapsable innings that is indicative of the team this year."
If I were checking this sentence for grammar and syntax, it would read thus:
"For a team to have exhibited the proficiency that the Yankees have over the last ten years (sic), this (sic) is one of those collapsable (sic) innings that is indicative of the team (sic) this year (sic)."
Bill (Memphis): Now I know why the A's fans don't like you...thanks! (just having fun with ya, Joe)
Joe Morgan: (5:07 PM ET ) But I agree! I think a lot of people have a problem with me having an opionion but I"m entitled to that! Just because I don't agree with it, don't be mad at me! I'm not mad at them! But I still have this problem in saying that the A's don't have money .. the Angels and Twins had a low payroll when they have been successful .. it's not just about the money. Just the way the A's are set up, they will be successful in the regular season and not as successful in the postseason. The Braves won 13 division titles and one championship .. something is wrong with that. But would you rather be the Marlins (not consistent with a ring), A's (no ring) or Braves (one ring)?
>> Remember that John Schuerholz quote I told you to remember from last post? Here it is again, just to remind you:
I think it would be more interesting to read a book from John Scheurholz because of how much they have won.
>> And here is a sentence from this Joe Morgan answer:
The Braves won 13 division titles and one championship .. something is wrong with that.
>> But you'll still read Schuerholz' book, right?
Joe Morgan: (5:07 PM ET ) If the A's win a championship using the Moneyball philosphy, I'll agree with them. But over the test of time, that philosophy has not won a championship.
>> Go A's.
Joe Morgan: (5:10 PM ET ) Thank you for understanding that! It's not personal. I was brought up a certain way in this game and that philosophy has always worked. Until I see a philosphy that works better, I'll stick to mine!
>> You don't have a coherent philosophy.
To all those Moneyball people out there, when I retire from broadcasting, I promise I will read a page or two. Not sure I will get much farther than that! ; )
>> I think you have a brain disorder. Please see a doctor.
Bryan (MD): Hey Joe..just wanted to let you know, I did a survey among baseball front offices to talk to GM's and asked a simple question. So far I've gotten 12 responses, and I did not even ask the A's, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Dodgers. The question was if they had read Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, and they all had. Don't you want to read this book, even if you disagree with some of it, to see how the A's have been so successful?
Joe Morgan: (5:00 PM ET ) Well, first of all, I don't read a lot of baseball books. I have no desire to read it. I guess to be blunt, I don't really care how teams build their teams. I broadcast games. I think it would be more interesting to read a book from John Scheurholz because of how much they have won. Moneyball is trying to reinvent the wheel. Make no mistake, Billy Beane has done a great job in Oakland, and I've said that, but I disagree when they say stolen bases, defense, manufacturing runs, is not important. I broadcast some of their playoff games and they always waited for the home run that never came. You can get away with that during the season, but when you get to the playoffs you are playing teams as good as you with good pitching. If Moneyball can cure that, then it works. But it hasn't been able to cure that. I'll try to make sure you understand .. during the regular season, you play mediocre teams so you can build up your stats. But you aren't given anything in the playoffs. You won't get 3 walks and then a base hit to drive in runs. You have to manufacture runs.
Joe Morgan: (5:01 PM ET ) I just don't understand why everyone wants me to read it! I think he has sold enough books already! So, what was the result of the survey? They all read it but what did they think? How many championships have those 12 GMs won?
>> Oh. My. God.
Let's take this one sentence at a time.
I guess to be blunt, I don't really care how teams build their teams.
>> You don't??? That's what 99% of the questions in this chat are about! You. Don't. Care. How. Baseball. Teams. Are. Built. Think about that, Joe Leonard Morgan. Think about what you just wrote.
Do you really mean that?
I think it would be more interesting to read a book from John Scheurholz because of how much they have won.
>> Please keep this sentence in mind. I'll get to it later.
Moneyball is trying to reinvent the wheel.
>> No. GM's who try to use their money as efficiently as possible are not reinventing anything. They are doing what they can to make their teams better. That's it. They're trying to allocate resources in such a way that the team on the field has the best chance of winning the most games. They're trying to avoid paying Derek Jeter $19 million a year. They're trying to avoid paying Cristian Guzman $4.2 million a year. Contracts like these hurt your team's chances of winning because every team -- every team -- has a limited amount of money.
Make no mistake, Billy Beane has done a great job in Oakland, and I've said that, but I disagree when they say stolen bases, defense, manufacturing runs, is not important.
>> I love that Joe thinks Billy Beane has done a great job. What philosophy do you think he's using to do that great job?
No one's saying that steals, defense, and manufacturing runs are not important. What people are trying to do is assess their relative importance. In fact, there's a lot of speculation that post-Moneyball, Beane has shifted his focus to defense -- hence the signing of Mark Kotsay, a dude who can barely hit.
I'll try to make sure you understand .. during the regular season, you play mediocre teams so you can build up your stats.
>> What? All teams perform better against mediocre teams. All hitters perform better against mediocre pitchers. What's your point?
But you aren't given anything in the playoffs. You won't get 3 walks and then a base hit to drive in runs. You have to manufacture runs.
>> Why not? Why won't you get three walks? Matt Clement will probably pitch in the playoffs this year. He walks a ton of guys.
And this will kill you, Joe. It'll really kill you. What's your favorite play from last year's ALCS? Oh, right, the Dave Roberts steal from Game 4. Of course. Well, how did little Davey Roberts get on base? Hint: he didn't. He was pinch-running for Kevin Millar. And how did Millar reach? On a walk. Issued by Mariano Rivera.
I just don't understand why everyone wants me to read it!
>> Because you go out of your way to criticize it and you pretend to be conversant with its ideas when you clearly are not. People listen to you whether I want them to or not. You are a baseball icon. This book is perhaps the most signifcant piece of baseball writing of the past decade. You should read it.
How many championships have those 12 GMs won?
>> The Red Sox adhere to many Moneyball principles and they won their first World Series in 86 years last year.
Jim (Tampa): Hey Joe, I'm a big D-Rays fan (one of the few) and I need to know what the Rays can do this trading deadline and in the offseason to give themselves a chance within the next 10 years.
Joe Morgan: (4:54 PM ET ) First of all, congrats on being a Devil Rays fan. It's easy to be a fan of a winning team, but a true baseball fan picks a team and sticks with them. So congratulations. A lot of the problems stem from the ballpark. It's hard to get good pitching in that park. It's hard to build a team there. I guess the easiest thing would be to blow up the park and start over. But they have to be committed to going about things one way. Remember, they went out before and got Canseco and all those other HR hitters and it didn't work.
>> The ballpark? Seriously? The ballpark?! What the hell are you talking about?
Here is ESPN's Park Factor chart. I copied and pasted the whole thing just to emphasize how crazy it is to say the problem with the Devil Rays is their ballpark. Noitce anything? (Hint: Tropicana Field is actually a pitcher's park this year.)
Matthew (Los Angeles): Assuming a team (such as the Angels) was willing to take on ALL of Manny Ramirez's contract, what do you think it would take in terms of players to get him?
Joe Morgan: (4:48 PM ET ) I don't think anybody can make a one-on-one trade. Only Vlad but the Angels wouldn't do that. You would have to give up pitching because that is what Boston needs. It would take probably a starter, reliever and an everyday player. Whether you like Manny or not, just look at his production. That's why I'm saying even with the problems he has now, there are probably 25 teams who would gladly take him. Anybody who wants to win.
Joe Morgan: (4:48 PM ET ) In Manny's defense, last year they tried to trade him. They did a lot of things to him last year. They tried to trade him for ARod, they put him on waivers, etc. But he still played hard at all times. I'm not sure what caused the latest problem or why he was upset, but it hasn't been an easy relationship for him either.
>> Okay. Jesus. I mean, really. Jesus.
First of all, Joe Morgan clearly knows the Sox put Manny on waivers last year. How can he keep claiming that "there are probably 25 teams who would gladly take him" without mentioning that probably 24 of those teams would need drastic, drastic salary help from the Red Sox in order to even consider a trade for Manny?
To me, that's the number one issue when the words "trade" and "Manny Ramirez" appear in the same sentence. How much of his salary are the Red Sox willing to kick in? Because clearly no one else in baseball is willing to pay Manny's salary even when they don't have to give anything up in return.
As if that weren't enough proof, Larry Lucchino said just yesterday that trading Manny was well-nigh impossible because of the money owed him.
The one thing we can draw from Joe's answers on this topic is that he hasn't the faintest idea of how a major league baseball team is run. None. No idea. He thinks the issue is that Manny has personality problems -- hence the qualifier "even with the problems he has now," 25 teams would take him. That is absolutely not the issue.
Manny makes as much money as the entire Devil Rays' lineup! Probably more! I don't know! I refuse to do the math right now! How could any small-market team afford him? 25 teams are not in the hunt for Manny Ramirez! Should I be more emphatic about this?!
VICTOR alexandria,la: if manny does not stay in boston where will he end up?
Joe Morgan: (4:33 PM ET ) I think there are a lot of teams interested in Manny. Offensive production has gone down all around baseball. Guys who are proven off. powers are even more valuable than before.
>> Manny is a great hitter, one of the best in the game. But his contract is awful. Very, very few teams could afford to take him on.
The proof? He was put on waivers and no one claimed him. Does that sound like a guy "a lot of teams" are interested in? I guess if you're crazy Joe Morgan who takes drugs all the time and eats pure mercury for breakfast, lunch and dinner because he thinks it makes his skin shiny, it does.
Ed (NY): Hi Joe, I remember watching you on the game of the week in the mid 70s and hearing an announcer saying: "inch by inch and pound by pound" Joe Morgan is the strongest baseball player". Hopefully someone brought that comment to your attention. Today, who would you give that title to?
Joe Morgan: (4:29 PM ET ) I never heard it stated that way. There was a great writer in L.A. who said pound for pound I was the best player. I did see that story. The players today are all stronger and bigger than when I played! I guess off the top of my head Rafael Furcal or Ichiro comes to mind.
>> Rafael Furcal OBP this year: .329
And just for the hell of it, Ichiro's OBP: .355
Not so hot. Jhonny Peralta's OBP this year is .353. And he's slugging a hell of a lot better than Furcal or Ichiro.
Here we go. Dave (Chicago): Joe, why can't the Cubs manufacture runs without the homerun? If they continue to play home run derby I can't invision them making the playoffs. Do you have any comments?
Joe Morgan: (4:26 PM ET ) I don't know anyone who has played HR Derby and won a championship. The way the team is built is the way it's built. When I did the game last week, over 46 percent of runs were scored by HR. They just didn't manufacture runs. If that continues, they will continue to struggle.
>> Okay, Joe and Dave (Chicago), I don't know how you're defining "home run derby" because that's not a thing. There's no criteria. But last year, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and they were fifth in all of baseball in number of home runs hit. Does that count? Because it was last year. Maybe you remember that? It was a big baseball story.
Joe Morgan: (4:27 PM ET ) The Oakland A's lost all those Game 5's because they couldn't manufacture runs. Any team that can't create runs can only go so far. That said, last year the Red Sox were the closest in terms of a team that doesn't really manufacture runs, winning a championship. But that stolen base in Game 4 was the biggest play for them.
>> Okay, so you do remember an event that took place nine months ago. Good.
But what proof do you have that the A's lost "all those Game 5's" because of bad run manufacturing? By the way, the A's have lost four Game 5's. If you consider all of those games a virtual toss-up, which I do, the chance of that happening by pure luck is 1/16. It's like flipping a coin four times and getting four heads. That happens a lot. In fact, it's more than twice as likely as rolling a pair of dice and getting snake eyes. Have you ever gotten snake eyes, Joe?
Believe it or not, people have.
But I'm rambling. Back to the point: in two of those Game 5's, the A's faced Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Who, if you've been paying attention, are the two greatest pitchers of our time. Sorry, A's! Learn to manufacture some goddamn runs and maybe you'll beat those bums pitching against you. Let's see you lay down some bunts against Clemens' 97 mph heat or Pedro's ridiculous changeup. (By the way, the other two winning pitchers against the A's were Andy Pettitte and Brad Radke, both fine starters.)
And enough with the Roberts steal! I refer you to the following post by Ken Tremendous. It's fantastic:
"This may not sound like much now, but it's little moves you make like Theo Epstein did last year that can win you a championship. No one knows that better then the Yankees. It was the Dave Roberts stolen base in Game 4 of The ALCS that broke the Yanks' back last year."
>No it wasn't. That was the first of like four thousand subsequent events that broke the Yanks' back. How can the very first thing that went right for the Red Sox that entire series be the thing that "broke the Yanks' back?" Bill Mueller's single, Leskanic's four big outs, Ortiz's home run, Ortiz's single, ARod striking out with a runner on third and one out in a close game, Rivera's two blown saves, Gordon imploding, Schilling's 7 innings of one-run ball, Bellhorn's home run, ARod's swiping of Arroyo's arm, Foulke striking out Tony Clark with the tying runs on base in the ninth of Game Six, Derek Lowe's six innings in Game 7, Ortiz's home run after Damon was thrown out at the plate, Damon's Grand Slam, Damon's 2-run shot, and Bellhorn's solo job after Pedro had given up two runs, are all better examples of things that "broke the Yanks' back."
Yesterday, he left Pedro Martinez off his list of the 20 current players he thinks are most likely to get into the Hall of Fame. I'll be honest. Today, I really, genuinely expected some sort of retraction. An embarrassed apology. A heartfelt mea culpa.
I got something better. Today, he went through Hall candidates #21-40 -- players he decided were all less deserving than the top 20. Before you read the first sentence of this next entry, keep in mind he included Miguel Cabrera on the first list at number 12.
21. Pedro Martinez Only five starting pitchers in the Hall have fewer wins than Pedro's 194: Dizzy Dean (150), Addie Joss (160), Sandy Koufax (165), Lefty Gomez (189) and Rube Waddell (193).
>> He's 33 years old! He's 33 years old. How can I make this more clear? He's not dead. He's 33 years old. His career is not over. He's not stuck on 194 wins.
How about this? Only zero left fielders in the Hall have fewer RsBI than Miguel Cabrera's 249. Only zero left fielders in the Hall have fewer runs scored than Cabrera's 212. Only zero left fielders in the Hall have fewer steals than Cabrera's 6.
Every starting pitcher in the Hall has at least 100 complete games. Pedro has 44.
>> Every left fielder in the Hall is over 50 years old. In fact, Hall of Famer Jesse Burkett has been dead for over 50 years! Miguel Cabrera is 22 years old.
This is a ridiculous charge. It's a different era. Starting pitchers are used differently. John Smoltz, who Schoenfield inexplicably selected as his #5 choice, has 50 complete games, and he's 38. Tom Glavine, Schoenfield's lock at #4, has 53 at age 39.
Pedro should have been the third highest pitcher on the list, behind only Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.
The crazy thing is, Schoenfield's presumably seen this chart. It's a list of the Career Leaders in Adjusted ERA+. Take a look at it. The reason I think he's at least glanced at it is because he cuts and pastes from the chart of Career Leaders in Adjusted OPS+ to make a case for Gary Sheffield. Plus, he writes himself that "[Pedro] has three of the top 15 seasons ever for adjusted ERA (ERA compared to the league average)".
Now look at the Career ERA+ chart again. Notice whose name is at the top? Did you notice that Pedro's lead over Walter Johnson is as large as the lead Tom Glavine has over the average starting pitcher?
Also, players sharing the borderline 21-40 list with Pedro include Omar Vizquel, Joe Mauer, and Hank Blalock. Yet he makes sure to say that the following players are, as he puts it, OUT: Rich Harden, Mark Teixeira, and Scott Rolen.
And why was this irrelevant F-U inserted as a swipe at Red Sox fans:
OUT: David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn
That's it. No commentary or explanation.
If you are already projecting Joe Mauer (who, as far as I can tell, has underwhelmed in his ever-so-brief, injury-plagued tenure in the big leagues) as a Hall-of-Famer, you have to at least consider Varitek as a legitimate candidate. Instead, he believes it would be humorous to include him in a group including three decent but average fan favorites as a snide attack at overzealous Red Sox fanboys. As for Ortiz, he's good, but I would never presume to do something as foolish as predict a Hall of Fame career from someone who is only 29.
Have you seen the catchers in the Hall of Fame? Their numbers are, to be kind, solid.
I want to qualify my last comment by saying that, of that group, Varitek should be considered a candidate ONLY IF you are projecting Joe Mauer as one. As it stands right now, Varitek would have to have the longevity of a Greg Myers (possible for a switch-hitting catcher) with only a tapered dropoff in offensive production. As it stands today, Varitek is nowhere near the Hall.
"Gary Sheffield ranks 7th in OPS+ among HOF outfielders elected since 1970"
Could you possibly include a few more qualifiers in that statistic?
The fact is, Gary Sheffield has had a pretty decent career, and there will be a debate about his inclusion into the hall. But instead of looking at his OPS+ Versus Righthanded Virgos In Night Games In Which Kelly LeBrock Is In Attendance (OPS+VRHVINGIWKLBIIA), let's look at the bigger picture, say, all-time career OPS+.
He's tied for 43rd. Pretty good, but tied with Edgar Martinez (not on this list), Lance Berkman (not on this list), Jim Thome (OUT according to Schoenfield), Jason Giambi, and a bunch of old timey dudes I've never heard of.
The fact is, unless he snaps, murders an umpire and throws a grenade into the stands, Sheffield will probably finish his career with 500+ HR, 2600 hits, and a career OPS of around .900. Which means he's probably going to the Hall.
But let's take it easy with the "He's one of the best 30 hitters who has ever lived."
Let's face it. Your Yankee pinstripes are showing, Schoenfield, and even you know that if the Boss hadn't fucked up and signed this guy, you'd be calling him another Albert Belle (4 career OPS+ points behind Sheffield).
When I look at the A's offense, I don't understand how it's generating all those numbers with the personnel available. The only proven RBI guy is Eric Chavez (17 HRs, 60 RBI), but the A's are scoring runs. It's a perfect example of the whole being better than the parts.
>> Come on. It's almost like he reads the site every day and wants to provide us with more content.
Let's take the second sentence. RBI are a miserable stat when it comes to reliably predicting a hitter's actual production. Joe Morgan doesn't understand that, of course. We've gone over this. The thing is, Joe reaches the right conclusion (sort of) with the wrong info. Chavez is actually the only Athletic to have proven himself to be a great hitter before this season (please spare me any Erubiel Durazo mail). And it actually is surprising that this Oakland offense, which looks terrible on paper, is generating a decent amount of runs.
Which brings us to the third sentence:
It's a perfect example of the whole being better than the parts.
NO, IT IS NOT. The "whole" of a baseball offense is essentially the number of runs it scores. The parts are the hitters who produce the runs. The whole cannot in any way be better than the parts. Ever. There aren't any additional runs added in for hustle or teamwork or spirit. It's just hitting, hitting and more hitting.
There are so many interesting ways to think about and analyze what the A's hitters are actually doing without blithely waving them off as "gelling" or whatever that nonsense sentence even implies. Why are they scoring runs with only one great hitter in the lineup? Are they getting on base more? Is it baserunning? Is it bunting or not bunting, sacrificing or not sacrificing? Is there something interesting going on in the batting order? Are guys just on hot streaks in the last month? Is the predominantly young lineup adjusting to major league pitching and coming into its own?
One thing's for certain: Joe Morgan will never, ever help us answer questions like these. In a column presumably intended to inform and educate his audience he outright says, "I don't understand how [the A's offense] is generating all those numbers."
Kevin (Waltham, MA): What are the chances of Manny being moved? What about the Dodgers, will Perez or Lowe have a new home come Monday?
Steve Phillips: I think the Dodgers, Mets, Orioles and ... yes ... maybe even the Yankees would be a fit for Manny Ramirez. The trade would be a complex one and is more likely to happen in the offseason than at the tradedeadline. On Cold Pizza yesterday morning, I made three trade proposals for Manny. 1) Manny to the Yankees for Sheffield and Tom Gordon. Sox replace the bat and get a potential closer to ride out the end of the season with.
The idea that the Sox would deal Manny Ramirez to the Yankees is so insane I can barely breathe. Ditto the idea that the Yankees would trade Sheffield and one of their only two reliable bullpen guys to the Red Sox. Ditto the idea that the Sox would trade for Gary Sheffield, who has publicly stated his plan to have a complete 3rd-grade shitfit if he is traded anywhere. When did Steve Phillips become a "Mike and the Mad Dog" caller?
2) Manny and Mark Bellhorn to the Dodgers for Jeff Kent, Jason Worth (sic) and Odalis Perez. This gives the Red Sox a RHbat to replace Manny, a young OFer who pulls the ball and can take advantage of the green monster, and pitching depth which would still allow them to make an Arroyo or Burnett deal or possibly allow them to acquire Edgardo Alfonzo to play third base. Then they could trade Bill Mueller to the Twins for Romero.
A 36 year-old (albeit good) second baseman, a not good outfielder (.397 SLG this year) , and an injured pitcher for a guy with a 1.000 lifetime OPS, so that the Sox can then trade Bronson Arroyo for AJ Burnett and pick up Edgardo Alfonzo to play third so they can trade Bill Mueller to the Twins for JC Romero. I know the Sox have problems, but you want to replace your left fielder, second baseman, two starters, third baseman, and lefty set-up guy? That seems...I'll say "risky" to do mid-season. How about something simpler, Steve?
3) The last trade proposal I have is for the Mets. ... AS Mets fans choke on their coffee and say, ''Oh no! Not Phillips making Mets trades again! No!'' ... Bear with me, try to follow ....
At least he's self-aware. What's the proposal?
Victor Zambrano to the Giants for Alphonzo. Cliff Floyd to the Cubs for Corey Patterson and Glendon Rush. Then, the Mets spin Patterson to the Devil Rays for Danys Baez. The Mets THEN take Mike Cameron, Edgardo Alfonzo, Danys Baez and Glendon Rush and trade them to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez.
Why don't the Cubs, Giants, Mets, DRays, and Sox just all switch uniforms? It'll be easier.
Also, I guarantee the Red Sox would never trade the 2004 World Series MVP for Mike Cameron, Edgardo Alfonzo, Danys Baez and Glendon Rusch. That's trading one great player with a huge salary for four average players with medium salaries. What good does that do? Hey, I've got an idea. The Yankees should do a nine-way trade where they get rid of ARod and get Pat Borders, Geoff Jenkins, Ray Durham, Matt Stairs, Frank Menechino, Jose Cruz, Jr., David Weathers, Lou Pinella, and a dozen sweatshirts with Pete LaForest's face on them.
I have taken some shit, from both home and abroad, about the Elliot Kalb post below, in which I compare Japan to Chicago rec softball leagues. Perhaps that was a bit strident. But this is a blog, and where can one be strident if not in a blog?
The fact is, if one puts together one's list of the fifteen greatest first basemen, and one obnoxiously and purposefully does not include Rafael Palmeiro, but obnoxiously and purposefully does include a guy who played in another country, I am going to take issue with one.
I think it is fair to say that putting up Raffy's numbers against the hands-down best league in the world, featuring all the best international talent, is far more impresive (like, by a factor of five) than putting up silly numbers in Japan against only Japanese talent in a league where Bob Horner was revered as a megastar. Agreed?
Saying that Oh is the ninth best first baseman of all-time is insane. He hit 55 HR in 1964, which is the single-season record in Japan. Or, it was, until Tuffy Rhodes, who had a career OPS+ of 79 in MLB, tied it a few years ago.
"Baseball For Dummies," Indeed (Part IV): The Sweet Lowdown
From page 289 of "Baseball for Dummies", by Joe Morgan (with Richard Lally):
"The Lowdown on Statistics" -- Everyone believes that a .300 hitter is a good player and that a pitcher with a low ERA is a good pitcher. That belief is not necessarily the case. . . A .300 hitter makes seven outs for every ten at-bats, and if his seven outs come with men on base and his three hits come with no one on base, these hits are not very productive. . . Likewise, many pitchers pitch just good enough to lose. . .Run production is how you measure hitters. Wins and losses are how you measure pitchers. Batting averages and ERAs are personal stats."
>>Again, where to begin?
Let's take the case of the .300 hitter who makes all his outs with runners on base, and all his hits with men on. Either he's talking about (a) just ten at-bats or (b) a guy who does this sort of thing over the long haul.
If we're talking about 10 at-bats...who cares? Remember, the law of small numbers is: there is no law of small numbers. If we're talking about a guy who does this over the course of the season, well, I'd like to see that guy. I'd like Joe Morgan to show me anybody who -- over the course of his career -- had a markedly different average with runners on base as opposed to with the bases empty. Maybe they exist. But let's be reasonable: over the course of time, most players are about the same with bases empty or with dudes on base. On top of all this, of course, Morgan's chosen a terrible metric to measure players (batting average).
Now for the really crazy stuff. "Run production is how you measure hitters." He's talking about runs and runs batted in (or so he says in another part of this little sidebar). Two of the most team-dependent stats you could pick. Wins and losses, even more so. It's the year 2005, and we're still measuring how good a pitcher is by his won-loss record? Tell that to Roger Clemens. Tell that to Ken Tremendous, and he'll go to your house and murder your dog.
The best line, of course: "Batting averages and ERAs are personal stats." I'm sorry. What? You mean personal, like, they're just for that hitter or pitcher -- like a sentimental photo? Or you mean personal, as in, they are the opposite of team-dependent, and therefore much better at measuring players' abilities than fucking wins and losses and run production (again, ignoring that batting average is a terrible hitters' metric)?
Imagine using this standard for any other line of work. Let's say I'm the manager of the factory where they manufacture and ship Joe Morgan Punching Bags (they come with a picture of Joe Morgan on them). I want to know how good John Kruk is at packaging up these bad Larries. Kruk works down on assembly line C. If I want to know how good he is at packaging up JMPBs, should I count how many boxes he "personally" packages, or how many everybody on assembly line C puts together?
Joe Morgan says: the bottom line is, if you want to know how good a player is, forget any information about the player alone. Ignore all data that tell you what the guy does, holding the team he plays for as a variable. Look at the team-related numbers. See how many wins a pitcher has, without even looking at his run support. See how many runs a guy scores, without looking at the guys hitting below him, or the player's on base percentage.
I'm just saying, if Joe Morgan's dog is dead tomorrow, you know who did it. Sorry, Ken.
Hey Joe Morgan, Only in the case of Shea Hillenbrand does a .300 hitter make 7 outs per 10 at-bats. The stat with which you begin your argument is called On-Base Percentage (OBP), which was either invented by a baseball-hating coterie including Billy Beane, a computer and SF Weekly columnist Tommy Cragg.
Aside from that minor point, what the Hell are you talking about??? Are you saying that Mike Maroth is without question or debate the worst pitcher of the last 30 years? Yes. You are.
Someone needs to create a toy stat called something like RsBI/PA with men on base. We'll call it the "Hitter's metric" and allow Joe Morgan to quietly ignore it because it's too hard for him to tabulate in his tiny brain.
For my money, the best line here is: "Likewise, many pitchers pitch just good enough to lose..." followed immediately by the line "Wins and losses are how you measure pitchers." How in the name of Roger Clemens can you still believe that W/L are how you measure pitchers, especially right after you note that sometimes a pitcher pitches good (sic) enough to lose?
Fine. Argue that a .300 hitter is not necessarily a good player, but not at all for the reason you give. A .300 singles hitter who never walks is statistically a below-average major leager. How are you going to convince me that a pitcher with a low ERA is not necessarily a good pitcher? Give me one example! Ok, Armando Benitez. I stand down. Just so we're clear, pitchers with a relatively low ERA over a significant amount of innings have pitched well.
Coach -- I don't think he's talking about OBP, since he's using ABs and not PAs. Of course, if you're counting "outs," that could include sacrifices and other complications that aren't strictly "batting average" (errors, etc). Amazing how confusing Joe Morgan can make things by trying to be simple.
Really amazing. It's his list of the 10 players he respects the most. It's an amazing combination of the most obvious statements, coupled with some really bizarre choices with virtually no back-up. I guess it's the guys he respects the most, and I don't really know how to disprove him. Still though, just try to read through without shaking your head.
Let's start with the first sentence: "I can't believe the Hall of Fame inductions are less than a week away."
>>Huh. I can. I know that it's a popular phrase of exaggeration to use, but it's still funny to me that he'd choose to write that. I like to picture him waking up, checking his calendar, seeing a big ol' red circle around Sunday (when he's being inducted into the HOF) and thinking to himself: "Wha? That can't be right..." Then shouting: "Honey?! Did you mess with my calendar? I'm getting Punk'd, aren't I."
Okay, onto the list. It's mostly contemporaries of his, but then he goes back for some oldies:
Willie Mays – He probably was the best defensive outfielder ever. I loved how he combined speed with power.
Joe DiMaggio – Obviously I never saw him play, but I always have respected the way he was a true professional. He was a great player and an American idol.
>>He never saw Dimaggio play. But he respected how he was a true professional. Why? He doesn't say. It seems to me that this happens quite often: players put up huge numbers, get elected into the Hall, and the best thing someone can say about them is how professional they were. Stand-up guy. Always gave his all. Put his pants on one leg at a time. Great teammate. And on and on.
In reality, their professionalism is probably the thing they shared in common with their peers the most. They all showed up to play the game. They all had the same job. Very few players are "bad seeds," or total dickheads, or show up late for games or lack "professionalism" in some serious way. Even if Ryno had reasons for why Joltin' Joe was a true professional, I'd probably respond by saying: "aren't most players like that?" Fortunately for us, Ryno doesn't even try to support his claim.
Now, he never saw Willie Mays play neither, but that doesn't stop him from proclaiming him the best defensive outfielder ever. Probably.
Back to the list: Andre Dawson – Another teammate of mine who was a great professional. He hit 49 home runs in 1987, and it seemed like he was going deep every other day.
>>What the hell was so great about Andre Dawson that made him more professional than any of Ryno's other teammates? Was Keith Moreland kind of a jerk? Did Leon Durham complain about having to play baseball? Was Jody Davis some kind of amateur? Did Steve Trout bang Ryno's wife?
Also: "It seemed like he was going deep every other day." Well, he wasn't. It only seemed that way. He hit a lot of homers, yes, but let's not give the Hawk extra credit just because in your (Ryno's) brain, it seemed like he was hitting 90. I'm about 2/3 of the way through your article, and it seems like you're an idiot. But I'll wait for the results of your Stanford-Binet intelligence test to come back. Unless you put someone crazy on your list, like, I dunno, Larry Bowa or something. Then I'd be pretty sure that you're an idiot. That would never happen though, right?
(Side note: In 1987, when Dawson hit 49 taters, his OBP was 328, 16 points below league average. He had a great year, no doubt. But it wasn't that great.)
Back to the list:
Larry Bowa – We were traded together from the Phillies, and when I came over to the Chicago Cubs, he was at short and I was at third base. He showed me how to prepare for a game – from taking ground balls before the game to the mental preparation of facing a pitcher.
>>I mean, I guess I know what he's talking about. But I still like to think that Ryno had absolutely no idea how to take ground balls before the game until he got to the Cubs. Then, say, one night in May before a game in San Diego, a young Larry Bowa pulled him aside. "Hey kid. When the first baseman throws the ball to you, on the ground, field it the way you would if it were a game. And then throw it back to him. 'Kay kid?" Bowa then walked back to his place at short, and would eventually find his place in immortality, on Ryne Sandberg's list of 10 players he respects the most.
A list that includes Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. No, wait! I'm sorry -- did I say Babe Ruth? I meant LARRY BOWA. Babe Ruth is not on the list. Larry Bowa is.
I'm going to stick up for Rhino here. The list is players he respected, not players he considered great. If he wants to throw freakin' Todd Benzinger on that list, God Bless. Personal opinion; not necessarily stat-based at all.
Welcome to Sportswriting 101. Your objective: phrase your wild guesses in the form of facts. Use conjecture, whimsy, good old-fashioned gut feeling. But always, always state your opinions as incontrovertible THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE.
Your professor: the venerable Joe Morgan. A sample of his work:
"In the postseason last year, the Cards' problem wasn't complacency, it was stage fright. When they got to the World Series, the bright lights were a little too bright for them."
Yes, the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals because St. Louis was a squad of chokers, too lily-livered to come through on the big stage. Head ninny Tony LaRussa led his team of cowards into four games and came up empty each time, probably because he had never, ever been on the postseason stage ever before. Ever.
Those lights are bright!
Never mind that the Cards' lineup and rotation was stocked with veterans who supposedly "know how to play the game the right way." St. Louis featured only three positional starters under the age of 30: All-Stars Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria. I was about to check the number of postseason appearances for each and every Cardinal, but given that I am currently blogging from a wireless hotspot in Kennedy Airport, time is running short.
But from what I've checked so far, a lot of these guys have been there before. And of course, their manager is a guy lionized time and time again for his in-game decision-making and overall genius-hood. You're telling me the guy they wrote an entire book about couldn't prepare his immensely talented squad -- a team that won 105 games -- to play under the "bright lights" of the World Series?
Ironically, I am still reading Buzz Bissinger's book, and am more convinced than ever that LaRussa does, in fact, suck at managing. However, this does not change the fct that the reason the Sox swept has nothing to do with the "bright lights" of the WS. It has more to do, I think, with excetional scouting from the Sox' brass and some very very hot pitchers and hitters.
Technically this is not about anyone's sports commentary. But, since the whole world is ball-washing Ozzie Guillen this year, here's some Smartball:
ChiSox down 2-0 in the ninth. Guillen has Bobby Jenks, who got two K's on nine pitches yesterday, and who throws like 130 MPH with a 102 MPH 12-6 curve that literally made Kevin Millar forget how to play baseball, in the pen. Instead, he left Damaso Marte in to pitch to Varitek, who has a 1.117 OPS against lefties and an .803 OPS against righties. Varitek promptly homered to give the Sox a 3-0 lead.
The ChiSox knocked the crap out of the ball in the bottom of the inning, but didn't score. However, the first two guys singled, and if not for Varitek, the tying run would have been on first with nobody out. Ironically, Guillen probably would have had Aaron Rowand bunt to get them over, and if he'd been successful...who knows?
The point is, what exactly does "Smartball" mean, especially when applied to the pitching staff? And how is it smart? Wouldn't it have been smarter to look at a piece of paper that told you never to have Jason Varitek hit right handed, if you can avoid it?
But maybe I'm wrong. I've been reading Buzz Blunderson's shitty book all day, and have come to realize that just a numbers-cruncher who hates baseball.
Elliott Kalb, normally pretty rational, has this to say about Raffy Palmeiro's place on the Top 15 List of All-Time First Baseman: he's not on it. (I'm almost, but not quite, sick of this argument.) Here are some people who are on Kalb's 15:
9. Eddie Murray
Steady Eddie was similar to Palmeiro, only better. Murray led the major leagues in RBI in the 1980s. Murray had twice as many All-Star game appearances. Murray went to the World Series. Murray deserved his three Gold Gloves at first base.
Murray may have been better than Raffy. It's close. But the reasons for this are not, for the last fucking time, that Murray appeared in more all-star games, nor that he appeared in the World Series. How in the world can anyone, let alone, apparently, EVERYONE, keep using these things as measuring sticks?
11. Sadaharu Oh
Unlike the Negro Leaguers, Oh's numbers in Japan are well-documented. He swatted 868 home runs. He was the Japanese MVP nine times. His Giants won the pennant nine times between 1965-1973. He was a terrific fielding first baseman, who won the Japanese Gold Glove the first nine years it was awarded (1972-1980).
Interesting. Those are some big numbers. THAT HE PUT UP IN JAPAN. Japan. In the 60's and 70's. Are you seriously telling me that Sadaharu Oh belongs on this list above Rafael Palmeiro? There are probably some guys in Chicago softball leagues who have like 1500 career home runs. Let's put them on this list.
14. (Tie) Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly
Hernandez was the best throwing first baseman I've ever seen. He had the ability to lead a team, as well. Mattingly had the flipside of Rafael Palmeiro's career. He had a short period where he was the best player in the game, but a back injury derailed his chance to accumulate big career numbers.
Right. And see, that's the thing -- Mattingly got injured, so he didn't have that great a career. This is not a list of potentially better first basemen, you dolt. I also think that saying that even at Mattingly's zenith he was "the best player in the game" is downright silly. And as for Keith Hernandez, he was a great fielder. His "ability to lead a team" is a soft plus. And Palmeiro absolutely blows him out of the water in every meaningful statistic you can find. Plus, Raffy is no slouch as a fielder. If you would seriously take Hernandez over Raffy, I will gladly let you have him. My all-time team will blow yours out of the water.
Here's how Kalb finishes up his argument:
If you want to argue that Musial was a left fielder, and Killebrew a third baseman; I can accept that. If you want to toss out Buck Leonard and Sadaharu Oh, I have more problems with that. Even without those four players, Palmeiro doesn't rank in the top 10. He's about even with Jeff Bagwell. And Albert Pujols is going to quickly eclipse some (many) of the names on this list.
'Who's on First?' Not Rafael Palmeiro. This is one time when 3,000 hits and 500 home runs are nothing to get excited about.
Even if Raffy is the eleventh best first baseman in history -- or, crazily, the sixteenth -- isn't that something to get excited about? And it's not 3,000 hits and 500 HR. It's 3,000 hits and 568 HR. And counting. If he plays next year he'll probably get to 3,150 and 600. Will people finally stop whining about him then?
Also, and this is shooting fish in a barrel now, you don't think 3000 hits and 500 (568) home runs are anything to get excited about? How abut 2182 and 162? That's what Keith Hernandez had. Does that excite you, dummy?
Finally, saying that Pujols is going to pass him is meaningless. Pujols is going to pass everyone.
(EDITED to add Hernandez's lifetime H and HR totals. And for you SABR purists, fear not, Raffy has him at every turn there, too, as you probably guessed.)
"In this new wave of baseball, managers are less 'managers' than 'middle managers,' functionaries whose strategic options during a game require muzzlement, there only to effect the marching orders coldly calculated and passed down by upper management. It is wrong to say that the new breed doesn't care abut baseball. But it's not wrong to say that there is no way they could possibly 'love' it, and so much of baseball is about love. They don't have the sense of history, which to the thirtysomethings is largely bunk. They don't have the bus trips or the plane trips. They don't carry along the tradition, because they couldn't care less about the tradition. They have no use for the lore of the game -- the poetry of its stories -- because it can't be broken down and crunched into a computer. Just as they have no interest in the human ingredients that make a player a player and make a game a game: heart, desire, passion, reactions to pressure. After all, these are emotions, and what point are emotions if they can't be quantified?"
Of all of the stupid things I have read about baseball, and which we have discussed on this board, this makes me the angriest.
I know he's talking about managers, (although at times he seems mid-sentence to shift to talking about GMs), but extrapolating just a tiny bit, he means people like us, too.
I promise you, Buzz, I love baseball. So does Tito Francona. So does Ken Macha. So do Theo Epstein, JP Riccardi, and Billy Beane.
Saying that the "new breed" doesn't care about things like heart, desire, passion, and reactions to pressure is stupid. The entire Theo Epstein era in Boston has been about finding (a) good players who are (b) loose enough to handle the Boston press. Would Kevin Millar be on this team if Epstein didn't care at all about things like "human ingredients?"
The "new breed" loves baseball as much as the "old breed." They're just smarter about putting winning teams together. If they didn't care about baseball, they'd go to Wall Street or run a hedge fund and make about fifty times as much money.
I've read four pages of your book and already hate you.
I'm not even going to talk about how he misspelled "competitive."
Jared: Frankfort, KY: As a former Red, tell me your feelings on the decline of a storied program. Which Red do you see making an impact on the post-season race with another team this year?
Joe Morgan: A lot of teams have gone through downtime ... Boston did, and others. As for the Reds, it's especially disapointing to me, of course. They just haven't gone out and got the talent you need to be competative. Now, there are so few great players out there in the game today, but I think that makes it easier to make a good team right away. I think Griffey is the only Red who could have a profound impact in the pennant race for somebody.
>> First of all, what the hell is the basis for saying "there are so few great players out there in the game today"? Bonds. Clemens. Pedro. A-Rod. Pujols. These guys are all-time greats or headed there in the near future. Stop living in the past.
And Joe. Joe. Please start reading this site more regularly. Maybe then you'll learn that Adam Dunn is one of the best hitters in baseball. He plays for your favorite team, and he has a higher OBP, SLG, and more HR than Griffey. Learn to love him.
Josh (San Francisco): Hi Joe. Who do you think has the best top of the rotation in baseball? Astros (Clemens, Oswalt, Petitte), Cubs (Prior, Zambrano, Maddux), ChiSox (Buehrle, Garland, Garcia), A's (Harden, Zito, Haren) or the Cards (Carpenter, Mulder, Morris)? Did I forget anyone?
Joe Morgan: (1:52 PM ET ) That's a very difficult question. Because of Clemens age ... it's tough, but I don't think you can get any better than Clemens, Petitte and Oswalt. The Cards and the White Sox, they are some of the best in the game. I'd be happy with any of those you mention, but I guess I'd have to say Houston.
Why is it tough because of Clemens's age? Was the question "Who will have the best rotation in 2007?"
alex punta gorda: Joe, are the marlins the biggest bust so for this year based on the talent on that club?
Joe Morgan: I'm not sure the Marlins have as much talent as people give them credit for. They have plenty of potential. Beckett was a World Series hero, but he hasn't pitched well any year in the regular season.
>> What about 2003, when his ERA+ was 132? What about this year (ERA of 3.35)?
The problem with Josh Beckett is his durability. When he's healthy, he's a good pitcher with great K/9 innings and K/BB ratios. I think he's overrated because of his playoff success, but it's totally wrong to say he "hasn't pitched well any year in the regular season."
It's so wrong it's almost like Joe Morgan said it.
Ricky (Santa Monica, CA): As a second baseman, i think you can make as accurate a judgement as anyone. What is Jeff Kent's place in the history of second baseman? He is so consistent with everything he does, and although he gets a bad rap with the media (self create or not), his play on the field is undeniable.
I have to break this nonsense answer up into constituent parts:
Joe Morgan: (1:49 PM ET ) I think Jeff Kent, obviously, during this era where numbers are easier to come by, has done a fantastic job.
My point is, he has been such a consistant offensive player at his position and he is a proven RBI guy.
How is that your point, after that first sentence? You seemed to be a Jeff Kent detractor (do you know what that word means? See post below) by saying that he plays in this "era where numbers are easier to come by." Then you say that he is fantastic and a consistent offensive player. Which is it?
I really think he is an excellent player, but I don't look at number to say that, I just think he is an excellent player, but I don't know about history and all that suff.
You don't look at number (sic) to say that? You just think he is an excellent player? But....isn't your belief that he is an excellent player based on numbers? Or what? How do you not base that on numbers? Also, you don't know about history "and all that suff (sic)"? Aren't you a historically important second baseman? Didn't Ricky in Santa Monica in fact start this by saying: "As a second baseman, i think you can make as accurate a judgment as anyone"? (Dangling participle is [sic].) Joe, you talk all the time about history, and how players who are rookies can't be compared to great players of the past, and so on. Since when do you shy away from historical analysis? (Well, not "analysis, per se, but "historical ramblings")
I will say that without him, the Dodgers would probably be in last place.
The Dodgers have scored three fewer runs than last-place Colorado. The Rockies have given up 84 more runs. I think that Jeff Kent's absence would not put the Dodgers into last place. But hey, that's just my opinion -- armed with logic, reason, and research. I trust Joe.
Adam (Chicago): Hey Joe, love your work on Sunday night baseball. I have a question about my White Sox. What move do you see them making (if any) before the trading deadline? Are they good enough to do it without making any acquisitions?
Joe Morgan: (1:45 PM ET ) I say that that there are no great teams today, and because of that, everybody is looking for help, including the White Sox. We'll see what happens as far as trades are concerned, but I think the Sox are certainly looking to add some pitching if they could.
Again, with the "there are no great teams" thing. Enough.
Also, the very very very very very very very very very very very very last thing the White Sox need is pitching. That is an unbelievably stupid claim to make. They have the best pitching staff in the AL, and a great bullpen. They have no hitting, at all, and Frank Thomas is about to go back on the DL. Unreal.
But it does sound like the ChiSox are in fact looking for more pitching. They may be more in need of offense, but all Joe's saying is that they're looking to add pitching if they could. If we're to believe the rumor mill, Ken Williams is sincerely trying to pry a frontline starter away (e.g. Clemens, Schmidt, Burnett). May not happen, but still.
Brendan (Cleveland, OH): Joe, Does it bother you that the A's are playing so well? It seems the Billy Beane detractors were waiting for a poor season with 2/3 of the Big 3 gone. Alas, it isn't going to happen. Haren has been a steal. Harden looks like an ace. It's only going to get better from here. Billy Beane truly looks like a maestro. What are your thoughts?
Joe Morgan: (1:41 PM ET ) I think Harden can be an ace, he is excellent, and they stole Thomas from Atlanta by giving up Hudson. The A's are playing great right now, the young pitching is their key, but, I would think that if Mulder, Hudson and Zito were still there, they'd be doing the same thing. For the record, I don't know why you would call me a Billy Beane detractor ... I just disagree with his philosophy. Are you a Joe Morgan detractor because you disagree with my philosophy? I don't think so.
Testy, testy! Sounds like somebody has been reading FJM. (Or, perhaps he is just testy, and ignorant. Who knows.) In any case, I have two things to say about this exchange.
1. The sentence "...they stole Thomas from Atlanta by giving up Hudson" is ipso facto ridiculous. Where I come from, which is earth, "stealing" means getting something for nothing. You don't steal money from a bank by depositing a check and then making a withdrawal.
2. If Mulder and Hudson were there, they might still be a good team but the freaking point is that they traded those guys because they had to, because they have no money. They were brilliant trades, because, as you admit, Joe, they are performing as well as anyone could have imagined them performing if those other, higher-priced players, who were going to be free agents at the end of the year, were still there. See how it's better that they have younger, cheaper players who aren't going to be free agents? Do you get it? Hello? Joe?
3. Turns out I have three things to say about this exchange. Look at this section again:
"For the record, I don't know why you would call me a Billy Beane detractor ... I just disagree with his philosophy. Are you a Joe Morgan detractor because you disagree with my philosophy? I don't think so."
First of all, he didn't even call you a "Billy Beane detractor." What he said was: "It seems the Billy Beane detractors were waiting for a poor season with 2/3 of the Big 3 gone." He did not name you, or attack you, despite having every reason to do so.
Second of all...Joe. Friend. Where I come from, which is, again, earth, a "detractor" is exactly defined as someone who disagrees with someone else's philosophy. So, the reason he called you a Billy Beane detractor is because you disagree with his philosophy. And, also, yes, I certainly am a Joe Morgan detractor because I disagree with your philosophy.
What do you think a "detractor" is? I'm serious. What could a "detractor" possibly be, if not someone who disagrees with someone else's philosophy -- i.e., someone who thinks that someone else is wrong about stuff, and thus thinks/speaks ill of him? Joe Morgan is the very definition of "Billy Beane detractor."
Joe Morgan has written an article for ESPN called like "Flawed Teams Eye Trade Deadline." I would excerpt it here, except that it is utterly boring and content-less. He essentially goes through each of the teams that has a chance to make the playoffs and says that they either (a) need another bat or (b) could use some pitching. It's amazing.
However, I would like to print one part of it. But first, I'd like to reprint a comment he made in a chat not three weeks ago:
"Ryan (Atl): Hey Joe, I have been saying this for a month now and nobody has listened to me. The A's will win the West. Pitching wins games, and behind Harden, Zito, Blanton, and Haren I beleive that the A's have the best staff in the A.L. The offense has is waking up too with Crosby back. Any thoughts on this???"
"Joe Morgan: Well, nobody is listening to you, Ryan, and I'm not going to listen to you either. I don't even think the A's are going to make the playoffs. They started off 7-20, and they've been playing much better, I'll give them that, but they are not nearly as good as the California Angels are, and their offense is not nearly as good as you think it is. I will agree with you that their good young pitching staff is impressive. Their test will come in the next six games when they play the White Sox."
Okay. Now, a comment from today's column:
TEAMS TO WATCH AL: Oakland Athletics After a slow start, due in part to injuries, the A's are now one of the hottest teams in baseball and are within 2½ games of the AL wild-card leaders (Minnesota and New York). In the AL West, the A's trail the first-place Angels by 6½ games.
Oakland is led by veterans like Eric Chavez, who has plenty of postseason experience. But I don't necessarily expect the A's to win the AL wild card, because their rotation features young pitchers like Rich Harden, Danny Haren and Joe Blanton (none is older than 24). Young pitchers tend to run out of gas after they've logged about 150 innings. I believe this is why Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis ran out of gas last year.
The typical major-league starter logs 200-plus innings in a season, but younger pitchers are used to lesser workloads in college or the minor leagues. So young guys need to build up arm strength.
I expect the A's starters to pitch well for another month, at least, and Oakland has a chance to make a run in that time.
What the hell is this? Why should we watch them if they aren't going to win? But wait -- they might win. But their ptchers are...young? So they will pitch well for another month, and then stink? So they might not win the WC? What are you saying?
I think you are saying that the A's have a chance to win the WC, and if that is true, you should lambaste yourself for saying the exact opposite like 16 days ago.
Daniel (Wenham, Mass): Jerry, Is your book out? It looks pretty interesting. I need to find another great baseball book ie Moneyball, Chasing Steinbrenner. I'm getting so desperate that I'm reading select chapters of Moneyball before I go to sleep.
Jerry Crasnick: (12:05 PM ET ) Daniel,
Yes, my book has been out since early June. Go out and pick up a copy (unless you want to buy the Moneyball paperback to go along with your Moneyball hardcover).
>> I love the gratuitous swipe at Moneyball. Ladies and gentlemen, a suddenly bitter Jerry Crasnick.
As a GM, Dennis Tuttle makes Steve Phillips look like a genius.
Let's take a look at Dennis Tuttle's lineup for his All-Grunt Team, which he hilariously has christened "The G-r-r-r-unts!"
Catcher - Pat Borders MVP of the 1992 World Series for the Blue Jays, vagabond Borders has played for nine big-league teams and spent all or parts of the past seven seasons in the minors. At 42, he's now the Mariners' starting catcher.
Pat Borders this year: 35 games .219/.252/.295/.547 1 HR 7 RBI Career numbers: .254/.289/.376/.665 Surely there are better examples of "grunts" at the catching posistion. Perhaps some who aren't terrible?
First Base - Julio Franco He will be 47 in August, and no one in baseball has a better body. He can still run, play adequate defense and, yes, he batted .309 last year in 320 at-bats. In his 21st big-league season, why should he stop?
I don't really have a problem with this. It is pretty amazing what Franco is doing this year. But let's check ourselves before we wreck ourselves by claiming that nobody in baseball has a better body than Julio Franco. Unless "better" means that Dennis Tuttle has done some epidemiological studies and proven that Franco's body ages differently than other humans. In which case I would use the word "scientifically anomolous."
Second Base - Craig Counsell He does absolutely nothing skillwise above average -- except win. A major component of the '97 Marlins and '01 Diamondbacks championship teams, he's smart, gritty and does all the little non-stat stuff that wins games.
Do you realize that you're saying that Craig Counsell is bad at baseball but since he was lucky enough to be on two very good (and very lucky) teams, he's all of a sudden awesome? Can we stop using the number of championships a guy has won to argue how good he is? Because if we don't, get ready for my upcoming treatise on why Lenny DiNardo is the greatest pitcher ever.
Shortstop - Guess The Fuck Who? At a generous 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Eckstein has used work ethic, desire and heart to defy the, uh, sizable odds of starting in the big leagues. All he does is hustle, get on base, make the plays and get the "big" hits.
I have nothing more to say about David Eckstein. But excellent plays on words, Dennis. Nice touch.
Third Base - Ryan Freel A player of many positions, Freel is so insistent on playing somewhere that he carries 10 different gloves, including Ruben Mateo's outfield model and Brandon Larson's third-base mitt. And where are those guys?
There are a maximum of nine positions on a baseball field. What's more, there are only really 5 different types of gloves. I'm thinking Freel might just be nuts. Anyway, this gives me absolutely no idea why Freel is good at baseball. You know what does? His .407 OBP. How 'bout mentioning that?
Outfield - Guess the Fuck Who? (Part II) A speedy leadoff guy plagued by injuries, Podsednik bounced among three organizations in the minors before sticking with the Brewers in 2003 and winning NL Rookie of the Year. Traded to the White Sox in the offseason, he has been their catalyst atop the AL Central.
I have nothing more to say about Scott Podsednik. (He's wildly overrated.)
Outfield - Brady Clark One of the hardest-working players in the game, at age 32, Clark doesn't take a day in the majors for granted after being undrafted, released twice and traded once while in the minors. "Whenever my career is over, I don't want to have any regrets. I just want to know that every time I stepped on the field, I did my best."
This I have no problem with. Brady Clark is actually putting up decent numbers for a guy who, by his mere presence on this list, is a mediocre player.
Outfield - Jason Bay Called a grinder by scouts, Bay, the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year, was a 22nd-round pick and part of the deal that sent Brian Giles to San Diego. All he does is hit, get on base and drive in runs.
C'mon, Dennis. the guy was a ROY and an all-star. This may actually be talent we're seeing here. I don't care how scrappy and Canadian he is.
Starting Pitcher - Livan Hernandez A true throwback who refuses to look at pitch counts or innings, Hernandez also refuses to be pinch hit for and hates coming out of the game with a lead. Go ahead, try situational pitching changes with him. Frank Robinson stands down.
Wow. Touching on a subject we've already tackled here on FJM, Dennis Tuttle actually refers to a non-white player as a "throwback." Kudos. That said, this is the only other non-caucasoid player on this list, so we can all see that the scrappiness racism that pervades baseball commentary is alive and well.
Relief Pitcher - Terry Mulholland Spot starter, long reliever, one batter -- you name it, and this 42-year-old bulldog will take the ball any time. No questions. More than 650 appearances over 19 seasons for nine teams.
Whoa, there Dennis. Just because he'll take the ball doesn't mean you should give it to him. Since 1994, do you know how many years he posted a sub 4.00 ERA? One. His career K/BB is less than 2. Hang on to that ball, Dennis.
DH - Kevin Millar Always eager to play and a royal pain when he doesn't, Millar carries mitts for third and first and two models for the outfield, saying, "If they need me to play somewhere, I have a glove."
What is it about Tuttle and gloves? They say Willie Mays was the greatest player ever, not because of his hitting or fielding, but for the fact that he brought well over 3,800 gloves to every game. And another thing, Dennis. In your fantasyland of "grunty" players, is it actually a good thing when players bitch about playing time? Because in real baseball world it's frowned upon.
His final two players are Placido Polanco and Orlando Palmeiro, and he doesn't really say anything dumb about them. Perhaps he was sleepy. Like I am now.
Maybe we have more in common than we think, Dennis Tuttle.
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.
"Baseball For Dummies," Indeed (Part III): Joe Morgan Defines "Outstanding"
From page 287 of "Baseball For Dummies," by Joe Morgan (with Richard Lally):
This stat (WHIP) tells you how many base runners a pitcher surrenders for every inning pitched...A WHIP below 1.50 is outstanding in these heavy-hitting days.
>> This book was published in February of 2005. I'm guessing that most of you reading this are pretty familiar with what constitutes a good WHIP, but indulge me with just a few fish-in-a-barrell stats to point out how way, way off Joe Morgan is.
The major league average WHIP for pitchers so far this year is 1.38. Meaning that the average pitcher is "outstanding" by a comfortable margin.
There are currently 94 starting pitchers eligible for the ERA title who have WHIPs at or below 1.50. That's 85% of all eligible starters.
The following pitchers have WHIPs of below 1.50: Runelvys Hernandez; Carl Pavano; Zach Greinke; Jeff Suppan; Brandon Backe; Victors Zambrano and Santos; Nate Bump; and of course, the incomparable Doug Waechter.
Amazing. That is literally like saying that 500 yards receiving in a year is outstanding. Or that averaging 9 PPG in the NBA is outstanding. Or that hitting .248 is outstanding. A WHIP of 1.50 is the very definition of "not outstanding."
From Joe Morgan's Chat of May 23, excerpted in our archives.
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.
Just a quick check-in: Giambi currently: .937 OPS. Bernie: the worst centerfielder in baseball. Joe Morgan: has yet to admit his mistake.
I think Jason really took offense at Joe's comments.
In the month of June: .474 OBP; .905 OPS. In the month of July (46 AB): .541 OBP; 1.541 OPS; 8 HR!
This guy's ability to get on base is simply incredible. Once he gets the minimum number of plate appearances he'll easily lead the league in OBP, and he's only hitting .284 because he was so terrible in April and May.
Right now his OBP for the year is .437; first in the majors is A-Rod at .417.