Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Friday, June 09, 2006



JoeChat. It's mostly boring, so let's do an abbreviated fisking today.

Buddy Cianci (Providence): Joe, Do you have to physically see a player in order to evaluate him? Can't you look at stats?

Oh, Buddy. You're not real, are you, Buddy? (No, you're not. As I've been informed, you're the imprisoned former mayor of Providence.) What you just did is like throwing meat in front of a hungry bear. A bear who hates statistics. And it's meat with numbers in it.

Joe Morgan: Stats don't tell you about heart, determination and mental attitude.

Or grit, hustle and calm eyes. No, unfortunately, statistics just tell you how good a player is at avoiding making outs while playing baseball. Information that is essentially useless in talent evaluation. When I'm building a team, I want a bunch of inspirational stories. A team of Rudys, or Air Buds. Yeah. I'll call them the Los Angeles Air Buds.

I have heard there are teams that think they can look at a stat sheet and tell you if a guy can play. I don't agree.

The operative words here are "can play." Can a guy play if he OPSes 1.200 for a whole season for the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, or WHIPs 0.79 for the Portland (Oregon) Beavers? I would be inclined to say yes, the likelihood is very high that these guys can play. In fact, I would feel much more confident about these fellows than, say, a guy I saw for three days go 8-12 with a couple of home runs and a real sweet swing.

Joe Morgan: I never would have gotten a chance to play if someone had just looked at me on paper. I got a chance and it paid off.

For the last time, Joe: you had great statistics. Because you were great at playing baseball. In spite of your underwhelming physical appearance. I don't know how to be more emphatic about this. I'm already writing in choppy sentence. Fragments.

Ricky C/Sacramento: Joe Did you think we'd see the tremendous dropoff in Barry Bonds' production so quickly? Postively startling, even when factoring the injury to his knee.

Joe Morgan: It is not STEROIDS startling to me. STEROIDS Injuries to your STEROIDS legs or hands are devastating for a STEROIDS batter. It is STEROIDS hard to play when you are 100 percent STEROIDS healthy and every percentage you take off makes it that much more difficult. If he can stay STEROIDS healthy the rest of the way he will put up better STEROIDS numbers.

I put in a few extra words that I think Joe often forgets about when he talks about Bonds.

Mike (Edmonton): What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your career?

Joe Morgan: Probably my size. I was 5'5'' and 140 lbs.! They were looking for big guys in those days.

Looking -- meaning physically seeing, as Buddy pointed out earlier. If they had just looked at your stats, they would've really loved you. Right, Joe? Joe? And isn't it ironic that you would be so against the Moneyball philosophy when in fact ... zzzz ... zzzz

Jon (Clemson, SC): How many wins does a good manager give his team over a bad manager? Who do you think is the best current manager and the worst current manager? Why?

SportsNation Joe Morgan: Very good question. It depends on the team itself. A good manager with a good team over 162 games, and this is not an exact science, can make the difference in 10-15 games. A bad manager can make the difference in 20-30 games. It is much easier to lose a game than win one.

This is abject nonsense, even by Joe's standards. If we take his high-end estimates, we find that a good manager "makes the difference" -- presmuably meaning the difference between losing and winning the game -- nearly once every 10 games. One out of every ten games? Really? Joe's guess makes a good manager worth 45 Win Shares. You know how many players were worth 45 Win Shares last year? Zero. Albert Pujols was worth 38. But I guess Bobby Cox is more valuable than Albert. If baseball GMs were smart, they'd start paying managers what they're worth. According to David Pinto, a win in 2005 cost about $880,000. That would make Bobby worth a cool $13,200,000.

Sorry that was all numbers and no jokes. Let's not even get into the fact that Joe thinks a bad manager can lose you 30 games a year. Hey, it's not an exact science.

cliff (CA): I agree stats can't tell you the whole picture. Which of the five tools (speed, arm, average, power, defense) is your favorite?

SportsNation Joe Morgan: Honestly, I never thought in terms of one being a favorite.

It's hitting. I know that's vague, but it's hitting. That's by far the most important "tool."

My dad always told me which players were good hitters, good on defense, etc. He wanted me to be a complete player. That is how I evaluate. How many tools does he have?

That's how you evaluate? How many tools a guy has? Not a complicated mathematical algorithm that yields approximately how many wins a player is worth? It's like I don't even know you anymore, Joe.

They are all equal.

Oh Jesus. Just so I'm clear here, according to Joe Morgan:


They are all equal. Alert Baseball Prospectus.

If a guy has limitations, that is a red flag.

Right. A red flag that would absolutely keep you from signing, say, David Ortiz.

Joe Morgan: Although, if you can only do one thing, I guess hitting is what you want.

Sure, hitting is what you want if you're into picking one thing arbitrarily out of a group of things that are exactly equal, which all five tools are.

See you next week!

Labels: ,

posted by Junior  # 1:58 PM
I also like to believe that the first question was actually submitted by disgraced mayor of Providence, RI, Buddy Cianci, who is currently serving time in a Federal prison.
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