Michael Wilbon: Let's start with the obvious place: Bobby Abreu going from the Phillies to the Yankees. Does this make George Steinbrenner and his boys the favorite (sic) in the American League?
Richard Justice: Well, I think yes ... they've got enough to win this year. You know what, they've shown this year, with all these guys -- Matsui, Sheffield -- out, they have a winning culture. You cannot (emphasis his) give Joe Torre enough credit for what he's created there ... Mike, if you look at the box scores in Yankee games in the last couple of weeks, you go whoa! These are the New York Yankees? And yet they're right there. They probably would be the favorite simply because they (nervous laugh) are winners. They, they, they (nervous stammer) believe they are gonna win every day.
Richard Justice, dear Lord. First off, let me reproduce in part an email I received from my friend Ken Tremendous earlier today:
I am the 2006 New York Yankees! Here is my line-up:
CF Johnny Damon. $13 million. SS Derek Jeter. $19 million. 1B Jason Giambi. $18 million. DH Gary Sheffield. $13 million. RF Bobby Abreu. $13 million. 3B Alex Rodriguez. $25 million. LF Hideki Matsui. $13 million. C Jorge Posada. $9 million 2B Robinson Cano. $381 thousand.
(Total for starting nine position players: $123 million. More than the Red Sox' 25 man-roster.)
How is this relevant? Well, when you have a lineup of players worth $123 million, and you lose $26 million worth of player, you still have a pretty fucking good lineup. The crazy patchwork lineups the Yankees have been trotting out there, full of (I'm not the good) M. Cabreras, A. Guiels, (the wrong) B. Crosbys, and A. Phillipses, are still anchored by the very expensive Misters Jeter, Rodriguez and Giambi, to say nothing of the fairly expensive Senors Damon and Posada. Spare me the what-a-goddamn-hero-Joe-Torre-is routine. The lineup at the beginning of the year was lethal -- a mockery of the game of baseball, in fact. No "winning culture" accounted for its ability to withstand the loss of two of its better hitters -- and not, I might add, its two best.
You want to know why the Yankees are hanging tough in the AL East and perhaps should be considered the favorites in the AL with the addition of Abreu? I mean, you want a better reason than "they believe they are gonna win every day"? It's the better-than-expected performances they've gotten out of Mussina and Wang (ERAs of 3.40 and 3.77, respectively) and the ho-hum dominance of Rivera (WHIP of 0.96). And the $123 million lineup that surprise! survived the loss of two guys to injury.
The Yankees have the largest payroll in baseball. The Yankees have the best talent in baseball. This is a recording.
P.S. Richard Justice pronounces "Abreu" "Abre-who," which I find funny.
You know what the awesome thing is? If they pick up Sheff and Posada's options, and they will, I think, they have the exact same line-up next year. But Jeter, Giambi, Abre-who, ARod, Posada, and Cano all get raises. Everyone but their 2Bman will be making more than $10 million/yr. And Tom Hicks will pay $7 million to help out the cause.
Also, RJ and Mussina (option) both make $16 million+, Pavano makes $9 million, Rivera $10.5. Their set-up guy makes $5.25 mill.
Just put up a glossary of terms. It's probably incomplete. We'll keep adding to it, I hope.
Should help a little, though I swear there are much better places to go for statistical information. Still, people have continued to e-mail asking us for some explanation of the terms we use. So I guess what I'm saying is: this is your fault.
A surprising amount of speculation about our motives and identities has been raised on other blogs, forums, and web-o-places. So we thought this might help to set the totally irrelevant record straight. Enjoy.
There'll be a permanent link at the top, and oh! This is really exciting. I made the non-A letters in the word "Archives" lowercase instead of all caps.
So, yeah. Things are really taking off around here.
We're working on a little glossary, too, since many people have e-mailed us asking for one.
Finally, I just heard one of the Angels broadcasters call a Coco Crisp double a "no-doubter."
A follow-up to Junior's post below. Let's also look at this section:
It’s not fair, but that’s what selling yourself as the greatest ballplayer who ever lived and coming to town with all that money gets you.
ARod "sells himself" as the greatest ballplayer who ever lived?! To the best of my knowledge, ARod has never been Muhammed Ali, exactly.
Players never think of that end of the bargain when they’re demanding an emperor’s ransom as free agents. The never stop to realize that when you make that much and make such claims, the fans are going to expect you to live up to the hype and the numbers on your paycheck.
Tom Hicks gave ARod $100 million more than the next highest bidder was willing to give. Should he have turned it down? No, he should not have. Also, he was traded to the Yankees. He has never made salary claims from the Yankees. Also, during the time when he was almost traded to the Red Sox, ARod tried to restructure his contract to decrease his AAV, and his own union wouldn't let him. Also, Mike Celizic is awesomely handsome and smart and good at what he does!
And, it should well be noted by the Man in the 1/2 Gallon Hat, if anyone in baseball has consistently "lived up to the hype," on an individual stats basis, without ever incurring a hint of steroid scandal, and without ever doing anything to embarrass the front offices of the teams for whom he has played, it is reigning MVP and likely eventual all-time home run champ and first-ballot HOFer and guy-who-switched positions-to-accomodate-the-egos-of-lesser-players-and-also-try-to-win-a-World-Series and perennial All-Star: Alex Motherhumping Rodriguez.
(P.P.S. It was immediately surpassed, as the happiest moment of my life, one batter later when Arroyo somehow got Gary Sheffield to pop up foul on a 38-MPH curve. Do you guys remember that? That was insane.)
I have to say, HatGuy has incredible timing. July 25, he posts (or updates, at least) an article called "A-Rod is finished as a New York Yankee." July 26, A-Rod homers in an 8-7 ballgame.
Oh, also the article is terrible.
You look at Alex Rodriguez after another failure to produce sitting in the dugout like an exhibit in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and you don’t see the best player in baseball. You see Ed Whitson.
So he's sitting in the dugout ... inanimately? Waxily? He's sitting still, so he can't play baseball anymore? Another one of HatGuy's patented Nonsensical Similes (tm). It's one thing if he pointed out that A-Rod were pouting like Nomar circa 2004, but he's not. He's saying he's a wax figure. Whatever that means. It’s time to unload him, because once a player gets the Ed Whitson Look, he’s never going to recover.
I love -- love love love -- that A-Rod homered the very next day. If that sounds drastic, it’s not.
It is. You know what else it is? Let's make a checklist. Knee-jerk? Check. A complete overreaction? Check. Based on nothing but HatGuy's intuition from the two or three times he's seen Alex Rodriguez make a face HatGuy didn't like? Check. Regurgitated? Unoriginal? Stale? Check. Check. Check.
A-Rod isn’t just in a slump. He’s shot. The boos and the headlines and the endless abuse on the talk shows have gotten into his head and set up permanent housekeeping. Naturally a man who wants to please everyone in the worst way, he’s pressing so hard to make it all better he can barely swing the bat.
A-Rod, July of 2006, the month that "isn't just a slump": 6 HR, OPS .932
If that's an A-Rod who "can barely swing the bat," they better hold on to him to see what he can do when he's okay. Unless a middle-aged sportswriter with a penchant for haberdashery has a gut feeling otherwise. If that's the case, trade him for some Single-A prospects.
He’s shot. Toast.
Cf. Hatguy one paragraph ago: "A-Rod isn’t just in a slump. He’s shot." We get it.
Finished as a Yankee, and there’s no sense pretending he can come back and be the man he was advertised to be. He could be that somewhere else, but not in Yankee Stadium, not half a base path across the infield from Derek Jeter, who reminds A-Rod every day simply by taking in oxygen everything he is not, not two bags away from Jason Giambi, who staggered, stumbled, fell, but never stopped being loved because he never lost the knack for getting big hits.
First of all, since when has Jason Giambi ever been loved by Yankee fans? He's certainly not in my Official True Yankee Handbook. They haven't won a championship since he's gotten there, so by definition he's a worse baseball player than Scott Brosius and Joe Girardi.
A-Rod, July 2006 (during the incredible slump that will inevitably force the Yankees to trade him): OPS .932 Derek Jeter, July 2006: OPS .934 Jason Giambi, July 2006: OPS .727
Wanna talk big hits? Let's use FJM's favorite, extremely accurate, infallible statistic, RsBI:
A-Rod, July 2006 (during the summer that will heretofore known as "The Summer A-Rod Was Absolutely, Stunningly Shot"): 18 RsBI Derek Jeter, July 2006: 13 RsBI Jason Giambi, July 2006: 17 RsBI
HatGuy goes on to talk about Ed Whitson, and then offers this jaw-dropping paragraph.
Country music fans know what the Ed Whitson Look is. It’s the face of a man whose dog got run over by the Prius-driving liberal who stole his wife, she being the same woman who broke his fishing poles, knocked a hole in the bottom of his bass boat, and took a baseball bat to his truck. It’s the face of that same man sitting at a bar that has just run out of Budweiser and Jack and has nothing left to drink but wine spritzers. And the juke box won’t play anything but hip hop.
There's so much to parse here my brain is about to explode. Keep in mind, HatGuy is now describing the look on the face of a hypothetical person country music fans would be familiar with because it's similar to the look of a mid-80's pitcher who was never that good beause he thinks this pitcher is comparable to Alex Rodriguez, one of the best position players of his generation. Plus he's trading in so many stereotypes it's mind-boggling. A quick rundown: Liberals Drive Priuses (those sissies) Country Music Fans Like fishing Really like bass fishing (haw haw!) Get drunk in bars Specifically, by drinking Budweiser and Jack Daniels Hate wine spritzers (haw!) Can't stand hip-hop (because you know what kind of people make that music!)
By the way: Ed Whitson, career ERA+: 97. The two years before he played for the Yankees, he was on the Padres. Here's what his ERA+s looked like:
Then he went to the Yankees, where of course, this country boy was crushed by the bright lights of the big city. His ERA+ looked like this:
Then, the next year he was traded back to his home in the "country," San Diego. He was awful in both cities. But during the following year, his first full season in San Diego after the trade, assuaged by the kind, gentle, peace-loving southern Californian crowds, he posted an ERA+ of
And that's why Ed Whitson is like A-Rod. Because there's still no proof that they stopped being able to play baseball because they moved to a city with a larger population or more newspapers or anything like that. Ed Whitson had a fairly typical Ed Whitson year his first year in New York. And A-Rod, in his second year as Yankee, had a typical A-Rod year. He was the MVP of the league.
Longtime reader Jeff makes a good point. HatGuy wrote:
If he [A-Rod] were making $10 million or even $15 million, the fans wouldn’t care. For the Yankees, that’s just a bit over the average paycheck. But he’s making $25 million, and if he’s going to make $7 million a year more than Jeter, he better be $7 million better than the most popular Yankee since Don Mattingly.
"The Yankees are paying Jeter $4 million a year, on average, more than A-Rod. A-Rod is actually a decent deal for the Yankees."
That sounds about right to me. The Rangers covered 67 million of the 179 million dollars left on A-Rod's deal, leaving the Yankees to pay 112 million over 7 years. That comes out to an average annual value of 16 million. Jeter, meanwhile, signed a ludicrous 189 million dollar, 10 year deal in 2001. But the deal increases in value each year, so right about now he's making 20 million or so a year.
Let's not let the weird firing of ESPN's Harold Reynolds (see multiple posts below) distract us from the biggest sports news on this or any other Tuesday: Joe Morgan Used a Computer!
Buzzmaster: Joe will be here in a couple of minutes. Send in those questions!
Ken Tremendous: Okay. Why not. (sends in a question. For real.)
Jeff (Texas): Would Prior or Woods benefit from a shift to the bullpen? It should be less stress on their arms only throwing 70 innings a year.
Joe Morgan: They tried to do that with Wood and they sent him to the bullpen. It's very difficult to throw every day with him. It sounds like a good idea for him, to be honest with you. Just use him for a while, and then go back to starting.
KT: For those of you keeping score at home: four sentences, four “him”s, zero comprehensibility. What exactly is Joe saying here? “It’s very difficult to throw every day with him” means one thing, and “It sounds like a good idea for him” means something else, and finally “Just use him for a while, and then go back to starting” means a third, middle-ground-type thing. We’re off and running!
Bobby (VA Beach,VA): Who do you think will be this years NL MVP?
Joe Morgan: That's tough. We're not there yet. Pujols has led his team. The Mets have the best record, so you have to look at their best players. We're not there yet where you can name the MVP yet.
KT: Three “yet”s in this one. Also, who is writing these answers, Raymond Carver? What’s with the 4-word sentences?
Chad (NY): Do the Mets need to make a move in order to make it to the WS?
Joe Morgan: They need a fourth and fifth starter. They need a veteran pitcher. That's why they acquired El Duque. They need one more pitcher that can fill that role.
KT: Well, they’ve sewn up the division, so they’re halfway there. And in the playoffs, fifth starters don’t really pitch. They’ve scored the most runs in the NL and have surrendered the second-fewest. Is it a good idea to take on a 5th starter in a huge sellers’ market, possibly surrendering Milledge or other good prospects? No it is not. Assuming Pedro is healthy – a somewhat large assumption, granted -- they are the odds-on favorite to make the WS from the NL, and there isn’t a close second. So: no, Joe, no.
Dave (Blacksburg, VA): This year notwithstanding, what is it going to take to get the Indians back in contention?
Joe Morgan: This year's been very devastating to the Indians. The last two years they played well in the second half and almost got to the division title last year. Then this season they thought they could win and then to have the season they are is frustrating. I think Cleveland faces a difficult path to get back to the top. They have some good players, but they haven't played well together to get in the race.
KT: Just to reiterate: the question was not “Can you just barf up some junk about the Indians that everyone already knows?” The question was: “This year notwithstanding [emphasis mine], what is it going to take to get the Indians back in contention?" Then you notwithstanded the concept of “this year” by starting your answer: “This year’s been very devastating to the Indians.” And then you did not answer the nice man’s question. Kudos.
Tony Martos Boston, Mass: Given David Ortiz's offensive proweless this year and Boston's current lead in the AL East. Do you feel Ortiz is a legitimate clear choice this year for AL MVP as long as the Red Sox win the division?
Joe Morgan: I don't think he's a clear choice. Last year, if I would have had a vote last year, I would have split it with him and A-Rod. He's a DH. Guys that play every day, make no doubt about it, help the team more. I think Ortiz is different than any other DH, because he's also the leader of the team. Guys rally around him. Normal DHs, I say no. I think what seperates him is that he's the leader of that team.
KT: Here’s a distillation, if you don’t want to read Joe’s whole answer: Last year, last year, DH DH DH, leader of the team, leader of that team.
Also, I think that position players should be considered more for MVP than DHs, assuming – and this is important – assuming they are good at playing the position. For example, should Paul Konerko have a huge second half, I’d say you could make the argument that he is a more viable MVP candidate than David Ortiz. Baseball Prospectus has Konerko at 4 FRAA, meaning his defense is better than average, and by itself has been worth about half a win to the ChiSox. Not great, and he plays 1B, which is widely regarded as the easiest position to play. But good. Valuable. Tangible. (Right now, FWIW, BP has Ortiz and Konerko at an identical 4.4 WARP1.)
Jason Giambi, on the other hand, clocks in at –7 FRAA. His defense is well below average, and has cost the Yankees nearly a full win. (This is anecdotally evident as well, given that in the field Giambi has the mobility of a soggy refrigerator crate.) Should Giambi be considered a more viable MVP candidate than Ortiz just because he plays a position, even if he plays the position terribly and hurts his team?
Side note: hard to believe, but last year, BP had ARod at –4 FRAA. ARod was a below average 3B last year – at least by this metric. Even so, his WARP was a full 2.5 higher than Ortiz, and I think he should have been the MVP.
Anthony (Scotia,NY): Good Morning Joe, What Moves Do The Yankees Need To Make I Order To Make It To The playoffs?
Joe Morgan: The Yankees have over performed, as far as I'm concerned. With the injuries they've had, Joe Torre has done a good job of mixing and matching. They need another outfield bat, they need another outfield hitter out there.
KT: Oh buh-ruther.
The Yankees have about six terrible pitchers on their MLB roster right now. They have Farnsworth setting up Rivera. They have Chacon, Ponson, and Aaron Small (in the minors, just waiting for his chance to come back up and pour gas on the fire). They also have like $28 million worth of Shef-sui coming back in the next two months, and despite all of their injuries, they are 4th in MLB in runs (with three more, they’d be second). Pitching, Joe. Pitching pitching pitching zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Dan (Pittsburgh, PA): Do you think Ozzie Gullien will be fired if he keeps acting up?
Joe Morgan: The only thing that he's done that was really upsetting was when he used the derogatory term toward the gay community. But him yelling at his players, that's his perogative. The thing that he's done is yell at his guys in front of other people. Managers tell guys to hit guys all the time and then hide behind it. I've seen it happen, he's just doing it out in the open.
KT: So the only thing he’s done that was upsetting was calling someone a “fag,” and then claiming it wasn’t offensive because in his country it means something different. That’s still pretty bad. Also, if you really think that’s the only thing he’s said that’s offensive, I invite you to trawl around the interweb for "Ozzie Guillen quotes" and make up your own mind.
Ken Tremendous, CA: Joe, thanks for taking my question. I've been telling my friends that the Yankees will be fine because of Jeter's leadership and intangibles -- do you think that intangibles can be as important as "stats" like HR, walks, etc.?
Joe Morgan: Intangibles are definitely important, but they don't replace home runs. HRs provide instant runs. But intangibles are important, but you can't win on just them alone. They need A-Rod to hit HRs for them to win.
KT: In retrospect, if I had planned this a bit better, and not just had the idea to write in with an actual question this morning as the chat was beginning – and by the way, how have I never thought to do that before? What is wrong with me? – I might have been able to come up with something more clever. Or at least more elegant. As it was, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision, and just typed the like most basic possible trap-laden question I could think of.
I’m going to say right now that I am proud of Joe. Yes, he does say that intangibles are important. Twice. But he also recognizes the importance of actual baseball ability. And I think that’s a step in the right direction, don’t you?
Ryan(Tampa, Fl): Will the Tigers get enough out of Dmitri Young or will they still need to make a trade for another bat?
Joe Morgan: If they get the real Dmitri Young back, the guy that's been there for the last four years, then they'll be OK. If he performs then they won't need anyone else.
KT: I like that his answer here is: if Dmitri Young is good, then they don’t need to get somebody good. Are you insane?! You’ll be laughed out of the Institute of Tautology with such a hare-brained theory!
Also, here are D’Meat Hook's WARPs for the last four years:
He's missed a lot of games to injury in a lot of years. Last year he was .271/.325/.471/.796, which is certainly not terrible. But his .203/.253/.284/.537 in 74 AB this year is. I’d say the chances are pretty good, all things considered, that he is not going to provide a whole lot down the stretch. And if he is bad, he will be bad. On the other hand, if he is good, then he will be good.
Kevin (Manassas): What are the Cubs going to do with Dusty Baker? There is obviously no hope for the Cubs this year, so if they are going to fire him, why not do it now? Is there a realistic chance he will return next year?
Joe Morgan: It doesn't make any sense to fire him now, who are you going to bring in?
KT: Anyone but Dusty Baker.
He's been the best Cubs manager in the last 20 years.
“Fire him?! He’s the best systems analyst we’ve ever had at Enron!”
(Have I used that joke before? Apologies if I have. Take us home with an apropros-of-nothing defense of your buddy, please, Joe.)
Joe Morgan: New York fans shouldn't be booing A-Rod, they should be cheering for him. He's one of the best players to ever play the game and they should want him to perform. Thanks for chatting.
We have a comment from Bristol! It's a boring non-statement. "All I can say is he is no longer working here," [ESPN spokesman Josh] Krulewitz said.
If you've done your Internet homework, you've probably heard the rumors as to why Reynolds was canned. And we at FJM can confirm they're true: Harold Reynolds was fired because John Kruk predicted Randy Johnson would win 30 games last year.
It seems that ESPN sized up its BBTN crew, ran a bunch of numbers, analyzed hours of tapes, and decided somebody needed to go. It also seems that John Kruk has incriminating photos of the BBTN producers, because Harold Reynolds has apparently been fired.
I'd still call this unconfirmed, since the only source so far is the NY Post. But, more later as details warrant.
Around The Horn, July 19th, 2006. "Buying or Selling" Francisco Liriano as your AL Cy Young Award Winner?
Woody Paige steps to the mic. First, he informs Kevin Blackistone what "WHIP" actually stands for (Blackistone, believe it or not, had pronounced it letter for letter: W.H.I.P.). "WHIP stands for Why Halladay Is Pre-eminent!"
Great. Hilarious. Here are Paige's reasons why he likes Halladay better than Liriano: "He has more wins, more innings pitched, more shutouts, fewer walks, and he plays for a team that's not as good!"
Let's take it slowly here. More wins.
Halladay has twelve. Liriano has eleven. Of course, Halladay has started seven more games than Liriano. One fewer win with seven fewer starts.
The better argument, of course, is that wins are a poor way to measure a pitcher's value. Keep in mind that Halladay gets 6.98 runs of support per game (good enough for 7th in all of baseball), while Liriano gets 5.82.
Oh wait -- I forgot. Halladay has a Pitcher Influence Over The Hitters Of His Own Team of +5.33. Liriano's is -.40. Maybe Halladay is better than Liriano.
Oh wait -- I forgot again. That doesn't exist. More innings pitched.
He does. Halladay has more innings pitched than Liriano. About 33 innings. More starts, obviously. Should Liriano be penalized because the Twins didn't start him all year? Maybe a little. He's certainly more valuable as a starter than as a reliever.
Still, Liriano's innings are just way better than Halladay's. Liriano's BAA is about .052 lower than Halladay's. Pretty substantial. His WHIP is .11 better.
Use pretty much any metric you want, and Liriano comes out on top. I don't have the energy to go through all of them. More shutouts.
Well, Woodrow makes a good point. I'm sure Halladay has like four shutouts and Liriano doesn't have any. Shutouts aren't a great stat, but sure, they show that on a given day, that guy was absolutely dominant. I'll just look up the stats to confirm --
Oh, okay. This makes more sense. Woody Paige just decided to make this shit up.
Neither Halladay nor Liriano has a shutout this year. They have the same number. Zero.
You know who does have one? Mark Hendrickson! He's not even the AL anymore. Must be better than Halladay and Liriano!
Woody Paige just lied to you. Do not trust Woody Paige.
True. Halladay has fewer walks than Liriano. Nine fewer.
He also has fewer strikeouts. Forty fewer. And he plays for a team that's not as good!
I'm not 100% sure what Woody means. First of all, the Twins and Blue Jays have basically the same record. They're separated by like 1/2 a game.
On top of that, I don't know if he meant that Halladay was on a better team, or a worse team. He was using pronouns instead of proper names, and the way he was talking and stumbling, it was basically too close to call.
Thanks to that ambiguity, we have a nice example of two pieces of conventional baseball wisdom that contradict each other.
"Plus, Halladay's on the better team. His team is in the playoff race, and his success is more important than Liriano's because it's kept the Blue Jays close. Halladay for Cy Young!"
"Plus, Halladay's done all this on a team that's not even that great! He's been the best thing about the Blue Jays this year, and he has a tougher time winning because his team is worse than Liriano's. Halladay for Cy Young!"
So, I don't know which way Woody was going here. Let's break it down like this:
Woody, if you think the Twins are better -- and I think that's what you were saying:
First, look at the standings. Look at the teams' run differentials and their expected W-L records. (As of today, they're identical.) Second, even though you think the Twins are better, look again at Halladay's run support vs. Liriano's. Third, look at all the numbers, not just the ones you chose. And the one you made up. Also consider that one of the main reasons that the Twins are better is in fact because they have Francisco Liriano.
Now, if you think the Blue Jays are better:
First, look at the standings. Second, remember that Cy Young voting is supposed to be independent of the team a pitcher plays for. Third, you are right in that Halladay's team is better, on average, when Halladay pitches than the Twins when Liriano pitches. They score more runs. And this should be held against Roy Halladay.
Now, for the opposite of your enjoyment, Woody Paige's Top 10 lists.
Quick FJM site update: we are hard at work on a glossary of nerdy terms that we use on the site, as well as a FAQ section that will answer many questions you have probably never asked yourselves about us, the site, and so forth. Both of these pages, when finished, will become permanent parts of the FJM blogoverseosphere, and both should be completed in the next 3-80 days.
BTW, it's a really good thing Ozzie didn't have Francisco Liriano start the ASG, because he is neither good nor exciting. Give me The Gambler anyday.
I will leave you with a quick update from loyal reader The Dudes, who reports in with this little gem from my personal least favorite local announcer tandem in all of MLB:
The Halos crew were talking about how good Mike Napoli's been this year (.282/.415/.584), and Steve Physioc, the PBP guy, said "Napoli's going to see more time putting up those numbers." To which Rex Hudler replied, "Don't forget, Jose Molina has been good too."
.206 EqA -4.7 VORP
(After we finish the glossary, everyone will know how funny that is!)
Reader Chris points to this article from the AP, of all places, which helps us define the elusive term "Smallball." It's a recap of the Yankees' 14-3 drubbing of the ChiSox yesterday. The first paragraph reads:
Instead of swinging for the fences, the New York Yankees put down a string of splendid bunts and beat Ozzie Guillen's White Sox at their own game of small ball.
Then it talks about how the Yankees bunted a few times. It also includes these sentences:
Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams each doubled twice...
Andy Phillips homered and knocked in four runs...
Even little Bubba Crosby got in on it, hitting his first home run since a game-winning shot last Sept. 19 against Baltimore.
See? Smallball! It's about doing the little things, like scoring 14 runs on 14 hits, including five doubles and two dingers. It's also, apparently, somehow about having the other team play bad baseball:
Jason Giambi hit a two-run single, leadoff batter Johnny Damon scored three times and the Yankees took advantage of some shoddy Chicago defense to build an 8-0 lead for Mussina (11-3).
...in the fourth...[n]obody covered first base on Miguel Cairo's bunt single, leaving runners at first and second. Damon followed with a hard, short-hop bunt to Konerko. He wheeled and threw wide to third, where the ball glanced off the glove of fill-in third baseman Alex Cintron, who was charged with an error that loaded the bases.
That's what makes Smallball such a great approach to the game: all you have to do is keep bunting, and the other team will make a lot of errors, and then...you win!
What's next: If Jon Lester (4-0, 3.06 ERA) is as good as he's looked, the Sox have arguably the best pitching in the division and a better-than-good chance to earn their first AL East title since 1995.
Lester has worked his way out of a ton of jams. He has also been in a ton of jams, because he has 25 BB in 37.3 IP.
Just before David Wright stepped to the plate for round one of this year's Home Run Derby, the conversation from the Baseball Tonight crew shifted to the Wright-Reyes vs. Rodriguez-Jeter debate. This topic has become a trendy hobbyhorse for New York sports writers and pundits, and it makes for the perfect space-filler, because there is obviously no wrong answer. If you choose the Yanks, your argument centers around their experience and track records. Go with the Amazin's, and you counter with their youth and seemingly limitless potential.
No one loses, right? That's what Karl Ravech thought.
Paraphrasing, Karl throws the question to Joe, saying "You must have a few thoughts on this issue, Joe."
Without missing a beat, Joe responds enthusiastically, "Oh, you bet I have a thought on this."
Wait for it, as beads of sweat begin to form on Ravech's brow...
"My thought is that it is too early to tell yet."
Get this man another Emmy! Morgo, you never disappoint.
Brad Penny has struck out the first two batters by throwing nothing but fastballs. He's throwing hard. Your announcers are Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Buck: "Almost a riding fastball because it's taking off from the hand of Penny." McCarver: "A Mark Wohlberg fastball. Catch me if you can."
Mark Wohlberg. Not Mark Wohlers. Or Mark Wahlberg. Tim McCarver clearly said a word that sounds like "wole-berg." You know, Mark Wohlberg.
So what was going on in the ol' McBean? FJM breaks it down:
(1) McCarver meant to say "Mark Wohlers." Knowing that we were all collectively prepared to never think about Mark Wohlers again, McCarver wanted us to think back 11 years to a time when Wohlers was relevant. "Catch me if you can" meant "catch this fastball if you can."
(2) McCarver meant to say "Mark Wahlberg," and believes that Mark Wahlberg was the star of the film "Catch Me If You Can." He was either confusing Wahlberg with DiCaprio, or "Catch Me If You Can" with "The Italian Job."
(3) McCarver meant to say "Mark Wahlberg," but was actually trying to refer to TV personality Mark L. Walberg, who, amazingly, has hosted not only Temptation Island but also Antiques Roadshow. "Catch me if you can" was something that made sense very briefly in -- and only in -- McCarver's brain.
(4) McCarver intentionally split the difference between pitcher Mark Wohlers and rapper-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg. He then added the cryptic "catch me if you can" as a way of saying something like: "catch my reference if you can, suckers -- it is a name I made up and is basically nonsense."
(5) McCarver was not watching the game. He was flipping through the Encore / Starz type channels on a small TV in the booth. "Boogie Nights" was on, and this caused McCarver to just blurt out the name Mark Wahlberg. Only McCarver was born in Memphis, and not necessarily as a result, speaks with a crazy accent. So he said "Mark Wohlberg." Then he changed the channel, and came across the movie "The Terminal," which he believed to be the film "Catch Me If You Can." (Starring, he believes, Marisa Tomei, Joe Pantoliano, and Dan Quisenberry.) After McCarver said what he believed to be the name of the new movie he was watching, someone from FOX sauntered into the booth and offered Tim a Kit-Kat bar and a $10 Borders gift card if he'd just watch the All-Star game.
I'd put the chances (in percent) of each being the actual case at 55/44/.5/.5/0 respectively.
Buzzmaster: Joe will be here momentarily so keep the questions coming!
Buzzmaster: Joe has been held up so let's chat amongst ourselves for a few minutes...What are your overall impressions of last night's Home Run Derby?
Brian (Pittsburgh): Buzz...you want me to leave my desk to go find Joe?? I'm willing to skip out on work for the good of the SN
Buzzmaster: See what you can do, Brian...
Steve: Speaking of Joe.. is he even coming?
Buzzmaster: Joe was pulled away at the last minute but we're efforting a makeup date for today's chat...
I'm guessing this is the deal:
Joe sometimes walks into a room for a chat, sees a computer, thinks it's there to harm him, gets out a Tony Perez-model bat he carries around at all times in a sheath on his back like a Samurai, and smashes it to bits. Then he slowly blinks back to consciousness, like Anthony Perkins in Psycho, sees what he's done, panics, sweeps up the room to perfection, drops the mangled CPU in a dumpster, resheaths his bat, sticks his hands in his pockets, and wanders out onto the street, whistling blithely and nodding amiably to fellow ambulators.
Here's my favorite exchange from the aborted chat:
shaundele56: Buzz stick around. You have much more knowledge of baseball than Joe does.
Buzzmaster: An obvious attempt to get posted...Thank for the props but there's no way I can touch Joe where baseball knowledge is concerend...I went to a World Series game once, even been to the Hall of Fame, but never actually played in the majors...I think Joe has a leg up there...
Even Buzz thinks you have to have Played the Game in order to Know Stuff About the Game. He's been hanging around Joe for too long.
Enjoy tomorrow: the worst day of the baseball season.
I watched the Derby, but I don't remember hearing this. From reader Nick: This gem took place in the course of the interview with David Ortiz during the Home Run Derby.
After Ortiz let the ESPN panel know that it was his son D'Angelo's birthday, Harold Reynolds cleverly wished the little tyke "Feliz Navidad." Which, incidentally, means "Happy Christmas" and not "Happy birthday."
This is the worst three days of the season. I am so bored I watched the Old Timers' Softball game today. Goose Gossage needs to shave that moustache. It's enough already.
A few thoughts:
Francisco Liriano, the ERA leader, the 10-1 rookie with a WHIP of .97, and the .542 OPS against and the 4.44 K/BB ratio and the 10.39 K/9IP, the best pitcher in baseball's first half, and the guy who wasn't voted on by his peers or his crazy AL manager, is finally an All-Star. Congratulations, everybody.
Also. Many of our loyal readers wrote to me and called me names for criticizing Ozzie's "All ChiSox, All the Time" reserve decisions. I maintain that some of his choices are insane -- I'm looking at you, Mark Buehrle; I don't care how quickly your games go by -- but I have to admit, there is an argument for Ozzie picking these guys. Simply: who cares? It's a stupid game, and if you win the World Series, you get to reward your guys by taking them, thus maintaining your clubhouse's warm and fuzzy feelings. (Even though I discussed how stupid the game was in that first post, this incredibly obvious "make your guys happy because: why not?" makes sense to me.)
However. Travis Hafner and his like 3.872 OPS aren't on the team. That's dumb.
Krukie, on BBTN: Kenny Rogers deserves to start. He's 11-3. Even if some of these other guys hadn't pitched yesterday, he still deserves it. Harold Reynolds: He does deserve it. His team has the best record in baseball. Ken Tremendous: I hate you both.
Was anyone else wishing that some of Ryan Howard's derby HRs had crashed through that screen and hit Krukie right on the ol' bean?
I now officially have had enough of "Back back back back back back."
Why am I writing like Peter King? I think I think that the Patriots are going to regret losing David Givens. I think I think that Starbucks should sell more different kinds of maple-coated scones.
As we all suffer through the next two days of meaningless but meaningful non-baseball, I will leave you with this lovely thought from reader Elliot:
...during the Home Run Derby tonight, Joe Morgan and John Kruk were seated in a tent in right field, facing out into the river rather than home plate. I'd like to believe this is what Morgan usually does at Sunday Night Baseball and when he's watching games at home. It would explain his "I haven't seen much of that team so I can comment" line in a literal sense.
That goal is simply to outlive the broadcasting career of Chris Berman, so that one day I might watch a Home Run Derby without the so-fucking-tired Boomerism: "He hits this one to [obscure suburb of or small city 120 miles away from All-Star host city]!"
It is curious, though, that the Boomer-style nicknames were conspicuously absent from the player introductions. I was steeling myself for Ryan "Howard the Duck" or Miguel "Not to Be Confused With Mediocre Teenage Pop Sensation Ryan" Cabrera or some shit. I cannot fully describe the relief I felt when he left them out.
You have to believe that someone sat him down and was all "This ends here."
And here's another, more specific, problem. On May 13 (check the archives below) we posted about your Yankees article, in which you wrote that the Yankees should try to trade three young players for Alfonso Soriano. Here are some words you typed:
The Yankees are suddenly without two thirds of their outfield. The offense is hobbled. Something’s got to be done.
And now, two months later, you write an article titled:
Panic in Bronx? It's not time yet Yankees still have time to catch BoSox, so no need to make rash trades
Now, maybe, to be fair, you don't title your own articles. But later, you write:
...they’re probably still the favorites to win the division. So throwing away a few more prime prospects to get more high-priced veterans doesn’t make any sense.
So, I just...I don't know what to do anymore. Read his whole article if you want -- it's rambly and weird and silly. But that's the gist.
On a total side note -- are there any Yankees fans out there who remember when Jim Kaat (or maybe Ken Singleton, though I think it was Kaat) tried for like two months to give Alfonso Soriano the cool nickname "AlSo," like a companion piece to "ARod," I think, and it sounded terrible and totally didn't catch on and everyone was just embarrassed for him?
Special thanks to reader Zac, who sent in this observation:
June 28, 2006, Mike Celizic writes "Sox Fans must boo Pedro heartily," and makes a choppy, hot fudge sundae/whipped cream joke:
"If anything else happens — the fans cheering wildly or the commentators congratulating them for booing boisterously or no one taking notice of the occasion at all...[I'd] be as disappointed as I’d be if I set out to construct a hot fudge sundae and discovered I was out of whipped cream."
July 7, 2006, Mike Celizic writes "Not Time for Yankees to Panic" and makes eerily similar whipped cream reference:
"It’s hard to make panic seem banal, but that’s what the Yankees have accomplished over the years... [blahblah] ...Panic should be saved for special occasions. For the Yankees, a day without panic is like a hot fudge sundae without whipped cream."
WTF? Has the powerful Whipped Cream lobby gotten to HatGuy?
If you still haven't seen Texas center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.'s catch Saturday night in which he went up and over the center-field fence to rob Houston's Mike Lamb of a home run, drop what you're doing right now and go find the clip...Not much of a stretch to say Matthews Jr. deserves his spot on the AL All-Star team for this catch alone.
Where were you in 1994 when I was arguing for John Valentin after his unassisted triple play?
It didn't take long for Ozzie Guillen's phone to ring Sunday. Then again, the White Sox manager knew it was only the first wave of a potential weeklong tsunami.
"I already had a couple of phone calls, not nice ones,'' Guillen said. "A couple of teams called, but I could care less what they think.
Anybody want to take my bet that this guy will either be out of baseball or beaten to a pulp within the next five years?
"Whoever is not on this team, they have my number. They have my PR department's number. Whoever doesn't like it, play better next year.''
Oh, but see, Ozzie, I'm guessing that the reason they were angry, whoever they were, is because their guys did play better, and you chose your own players instead. For example, you kind of can't play better than Travis Hafner has, since he leads the AL in OPS, and yet you took Paul Konerko, even though the other 1B/DH type on your own team was already going, and even though Hafner's OPS is more than 100 points higher than Konerko's, and even though Hafner leads Konerko is every single meaningful (and most unmeaningful) categories.
I know Konerko is good, but you have two guys who play the same positions from the same team -- your team -- instead of, say, one guy from your team and one guy from another team who is better.
You also decided to take Bobby Jenks, who is good and has a lot of "saves," instead of Francisco Liriano or Jeremy Bonderman or even John Lackey (anyone seen his OPS against recently?). These people all arguably "played better" than your guy, but you took your guy, so they got upset.
Guillen had been promising all along that when it came time to put together the American League All-Star team, he would take as many Sox players as he could.
Oh. So, it had nothing to do with "playing better." He actually already announced that the fix was in. "You want to win the election?" asked Boss Tweed. "Campaign better!"
He also knew his decision would come under a lot of scrutiny. By the time the fan and player voting ended, Guillen was left with getting an AL-leading six Sox players into the July 11 midsummer classic in Pittsburgh -- none of whom was voted in by the fans as a starter.
Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye, designated hitter Jim Thome and pitcher Jose Contreras were selected through the players' vote. First baseman Paul Konerko, pitcher Mark Buehrle and closer Bobby Jenks were selected by Guillen. Jenks and Contreras are first-timers to the game.
"I don't like it,'' Guillen said of the difficulty he faced in putting the team together. "But I do hope that I get to do it again next year. There are a lot of rules that fans and players have to know about. The manager really ends up picking two guys.
You picked three guys. And they were all from your team.
"It's a shame to have your hands tied like that. I didn't even get three of my favorite players on the ballclub.''
Oh, the humanity! You didn't even get your three favorite guys on the team? Ye Gods! What has the Major League Baseball All Star Game come to when Ozzie Guillen only gets to have six of his own players on the team -- and not even three of his "favorites?"
By the way, if I were on his team and was not one of these "favorites," I would be pissed off right now.
Guillen said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and third baseman Joe Crede should have made the team. Pierzynski still has a chance as one of five AL candidates for one spot via Internet fan voting.
Pierzynski is actually deserving. He has a 2.8 WARP1 and a .281 EqA this year. Pudge is 3.0 and .263 (the higher WARP attributed to his defense). Iguchi...well, he has a .779 OPS, which isn't bad for a 2B (better than Loretta's, and he's starting). But he also has a 1.5 WARP1, thanks to some sub-par defense (-5 FRAA). He also has 66/23 K/Bb ratio. Which stinks. And a .257 EqA. Crede is a very good 3B, with a 3.5 WARP1 and .287 EqA.
But here's the problem. There's a guy named Travis Hafner. He plays for the Indians.
OPS: 1.084 WARP1: 4.6 EqA: .364 (!)
And there's a guy named Jason Giambi, who is a dirty dirty cheater, but he also has done this:
OPS: 1.054 WARP1: 3.4 EqA: .347
And as far as Iguchi, specifically, goes, there is a guy named Brian Roberts, who plays for the Orioles.
OPS: .787 WARP1: 2.2 EqA: .278
So, you can see that Crede and Iguchi are not quite--
"The one guy that I was really pushing [Crede] was the one guy that didn't make it,'' Guillen said. "I'm going to tell Joe, 'You can go, I'll stay. I've been to a few already.'''
Ozzie Guillen, career:
OPS: .625 K/BB: 511/.239 EqA: .229
I retroactively protest Ozzie's inclusion in all-star festivities. Unless he was there as a manager or coach, in which case, I doubly protest it.
Guillen, however, said he is not done campaigning to get Crede on the roster.
"It will be one week, and if someone gets hurt, I don't care -- pitcher, catcher, outfielder -- Crede is going,'' Guillen said. "That's the way it's going to be. If anything happens to those 32 guys on the field and they can't make it, Crede is going and I don't care who gets mad.''
Mad people will include: Hafner, Giambi, Verlander, Roberts, Bonderman, Robertson, Liriano, Mussina, Schilling.
To say nothing of Tremendous, dak, Murbles, Junior, Coach. Even Spinoza might freak a little, and he's a very calm guy.
Guillen had said two weeks ago that Contreras likely would be the AL starter, but with the right-hander now scheduled to start on the Sunday before the All-Star Game, Guillen already was coming up with a Plan B. Though Guillen wouldn't confirm it, Detroit Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers is thought to be the front-runner.
Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God.
Rogers has a 61/25 K/BB ratio and a DIPS ERA over 4.00. Johan Santana is so much effing better than Kenny Rogers it's like they're playing different sports. Liriano is a million times better, and Ozzie won't even put him on the team.
Kenny Rogers is 31st in the majors in VORP. And he's going to start an all-star game.
While all six of the selections were excited to be going, there seemed to be equally as much sympathy for their teammates who didn't make the team.
"The system's flawed,'' Konerko said.
Yes it is. Travis Hafner isn't on the team. Nor is Giambi. I'm glad you said it.
"I've been on the short end of it before because of the way the voting works out. They try to do it the best way they can, and I'm not sure there's a perfect way to do it.
No, there isn't. Deserving people like Mike Mussina and Francisco Liriano don't get to go because Ozzie chose Bobby Jenks, who is fine, but not as good as Mussina or Liriano. This is really mature of you, Paul, to be saying this.
"Every year, there's so many guys that do well and there's just so many spots. It's just bad when it happens to somebody close to you or yourself, and that's the case with Joe. The numbers speak for themselves. He should be there."
Just to review, here's how Ozzie would like the 2006 AL All-Star Starting Line-Up to look:
C Pierzynski 1B Konerko 2B Iguchi 3B Crede SS Who Cares RF Dye CF Who Cares LF Who Cares DH Thome
Question from Karl Ravech: who should start the game for the A.L?
Krukie: Roy Halladay. H.R.: Johan Santana. Steve Phillips: Jose Contreras. Because "He hasn't lost a game this year. You need to win a game? Give the ball to the guy who hasn't lost a game." (Slight paraphrase.)
Now, I am a reasonable guy. I love the give-and-take of reasonable arguments from reasonable people. But there is an answer to this question, and the answer is Santana.
And where's the Tiger love? Verlander, Bonderman, and Robertson all have better numbers than Buehrle (to say nothing of their selected teammate, Kenny Rogers). In fact, Bonderman's DIPS is 2.85. Why did I break down Mussina and Schilling instead of Bonderman? Oh well. Too late now. My computer has no delete key.
But the real crime is Liriano.
9-1, 1.99 ERA. in 81.1 IP, he's allowed 59 H, and has a 94/20 K/BB ratio. His WHIP is .97. The league is slugging .292 against him, with a .256 OBA. His DIPS is 2.44. He might be the best pitcher in the AL right now.
The All-Star Game is stupid. Every year, this one included, there are about a dozen crazy choices made, for starters and reserves. It's half popularity contest, quarter meaningless exhibition, quarter "this time it counts" MLB nonsense-fest. It doesn't know what it is. The fans vote! The players vote, too! The manager from last year's World Series team gets to do stuff! The C.E.O. of the concessions company who has the contract with the stadium where the game is played gets to choose one reserve third baseman! The soldiers in Iraq design the uniforms! The Royals don't have anyone in the game?! Get Mark Redman in there!!!
The whole thing is a mess.
I know that managers take their own guys. I know there are already too many Yankees and Red Sox on the roster, so I'm fine with no Schilling or Mussina. But Mark Buehrle is mediocre. The Tigers are good. Liriano is blisteringly awesome. Ozzie is a moron.