FIRE JOE MORGAN: First JoeChat of Fall


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


First JoeChat of Fall

Can you feel it? The air is a little cooler...the leaves are changing...we've already had the first high-profile NFL suicide attempt...and Joe has started to talk about the playoffs.

Must be fall.

Buzzmaster: We're getting Joe right now. Send in those questions!

Ken Tremendous: It's hard for me to believe that people still follow the Buzzmaster's advice. Because: what's in it for them?

Kelly (Saint Cloud, MN): Joe, with no clear front-runner for AL MVP, who is your pick?

Joe Morgan: Well, I'm going to have to wait until the season's over. But a lot of things can change. I think it does have an impact of David Ortiz hits 61 or 62 home runs. That would have an impact.

KT: It would have an impact, definitely, if David Ortiz hit eight meaningless home runs in six days. The impact would be: cool! That's a lot of home runs! In a short amount of time!

A lot people say he's a DH, but how can Santana be included if he's a pitcher with only 30 starts or so? But I'd say right now Jeter is up there, along with Morneau.

KT: If you go by VORP, it's Hafner, then Ortiz, then Jeter. If you go by Win Shares, it's Jeter, pretty much. (He has 31 right now, I think.) If you go by a VORP/Win Shares combo, it's Jeter. If you go by Guy Who Plays On A Winning Team And Calms His Wild-Horse Teammates With Nothing More Than His Piercing Eyes and Somehow Has the Reputation of the Ultimate "Team Guy" Even Though He Clearly Hates his Third Baseman and Constantly Throws Said Third Baseman Under a Bus in Interviews and Has A Gorgeous Soul and a Handsomeness Not Often Seen in this Dimension and a Natural Je Ne Sais Quoi that Just Makes Sportswriters Absolutely Melt into Little Pools of Giggling Goo, it's Mark Grudzielanek. (JK, you guys! It's Jeter!)

If I had a vote, I'd vote Hafner, because he is awesome. Then Ortiz, because his VORP is higher, and I personally don't care about the fact that he's a DH. But Jeter is going to win, because the Sox are terrible, and so are the Indians, and Jeter is more famous than Morneau or Mauer, and Jeter has never won, and the national Jeter-related erection, which has existed for far longer than the four hours they warn you about on ED pill commercials, needs to be...taken care of. And although it kills me to say it, it's not a bad choice. It's probably even the correct choice, based on the position Jeter plays, the contribution he has made, and the fact that for better or worse, people tend to care about the MVP's team's performance.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah. Joe's chatting.

James NJ: Joe, how do you think Sheff has looked at first?

Joe Morgan: I haven't seen him play first base, but I've seen him swing the bat in highlights. Another week of swinging the bat, he'll hit. I think he'll play first base adequately. Remember he was a shortstop when he first came up.

KT: The classic "I haven't seen him play" comment here augurs a really nice run of Ignorance Pleas from Joe. How many can you spot? (Answer at the end of the chat.)

Jeff (Iowa): Joe, any way the Twins can beat the Yanks in a first round matchup?

Joe Morgan: Definitely there's a chance. They will have Santana go maybe twice. Inbetween that, the Yankees can win with their lineup. But with the Twins playing so well, they could beat them.

KT: "Hey Joe -- can the Twins win?" "Yes. Yes. No. Yes."

Jamal (Oakland): Joe, how has the Girardi situation in Florida affected the players? Will it spill over into next year when Girardi is gone?

Joe Morgan: I don't think it effects young players as much as it would a veteran team. They played well as a team until they were overwhelmed down the stretch. I don't think it will effect them next year if he's fired. But I'm not sure that's going to happen next year that he will be fired.

Jim Grelpington, President, Society for the Preservation of the English Language: Those last two sentences just made me vomit.

Ross (Detroit): Jim Leyland for manager of the year?

Joe Morgan: I think Jim Leyland will win because of the magnitude of the change he made in Detroit. I think Ken Mocha in Oakland's done a great job.

KT: Ken Mocha's a good choice. As are Joe Latte, Terry Vanilla, and Mike Half-Caf Soy Chai.

KT's Super Ego: Dude. Starbucks jokes? Seriously?

KT: Leave me alone. It's been a long year.

Eric (Chicago): Do you really think that the White Sox lost because they were worn out from the grind of the postseason last year??? Is that even a valid excuse???

Joe Morgan: No, I don't think that's a valid reason, but it is one of the things that happen. It's very difficult to repeat. One thing that gets overlooked, when you go to the World Series, your pitching staff pitches more games and gets more starts. They get a lot of extra starts. You can say the same thing and say the Astros are not going to make it. Their pitching staff was not able to pitch as well. One thing that people forget is they play a lot of extra games and that puts more innings on your pitching staff. I think that happened to the Braves over the course of their years. Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine, pitched the equivalent of an extra season in those years.

KT: Yes, that must be the reason the Braves only won 37 consecutive division titles. Their pitchers were tired. And the reason the White Sox will miss the playoffs this year has nothing to do with the fact that some of their pitchers are relatively low-strikeout guys like Buehrle and Garland whose performances year-to-year (and start-to-start) are likely to vary widely based on situational karma. It couldn't have anything to do with hitting a .330 OBP guy leadoff all year, ahead of a lot of awesome power guys. It's in no way related to the random vicissitudes of a long baseball season. It's because of the three extra starts their pitchers made last year in the playoffs.

Robert (Brentwood): Joe, what do you think it means to someone to be a "true Yankee?" Is Derek Jeter a good example?

Joe Morgan: People invent words or cliches. It's like Celtic Pride for the Boston Celtics.

KT: Ouch. I think he's on to his Mass.-based detractors.

I remember when they were playing the Lakers once and saying that and Kareem said, well the Lakers have pride too. And they won the series. People want to heighten someone's status. I think maybe they mean the best of the Yankees. The best they've put forth over the years. I think Jeter fits that mold, but I wouldn't use that term, because I don't know what it means. You could use it and say, a true Red or a true Red Sox.

KT: I have to give it up a little, here. Nicely done, Joey.

Andrew (WI): Hey Joe. Do you think Omar Vizquel should get elected to the Hall of Fame. Some say he was as good as Ozzie Smith in the field and better at the plate. Thanks.

KT: Dave Concepcion.

Joe Morgan: I think he has an excellent chance when you talk about how long he's played how well he's played.

KT: Dave Concepcion.

If you rate the position the way you're supposed to, shortstop is a defensive position and anything offensive is extra.

KT: Dave Concepcion.

But for a while there you had A-Rod hitting 50 home runs, Miguel Tejada driving in 150 runs. Nomar. That was the norm for shortstops for a while.

KT: Dave Concepcion.

But using the defensive criteria, I think he has a shot.

KT: Dave Concepcion.

But I think Davey Concepcion who played with me and had a lot of Gold Gloves should be in the Hall as well.

KT: There it is.

Luke (Chicago): What if the Twins and Tigers tie for the division? Are they forced to play an extra game (while other teams rest) just to determine the seedings?

Joe Morgan: I'm not sure, but I think it would go on what they did within the division. What they did head to head. I think those are a couple of the tiebreakers. I think if they're tied, they should play an extra game. In fact, I think that will happen. I did a game once when the Dodgers and Padres both clinched a playoff spot and they played. But that game becomes meaningless, because you're not going to pitch your best pitcher for that game. But if there were a couple of days inbetween, I would prefer they play a game.

KT: [dizzy] [falls down]

Nora (St. Louis): I have hope that you can be the voice of reason in the NL MVP debate--a guy who strikes out as much as Ryan Howard can't be the MVP over Pujols, can he?

Joe Morgan: you're missing the point. He can not be as a good a player, but you're not talking about the best player, you're talking the most valuable player. How good would the Phillies be without Howard? And take that further and ask where the Cards would be without Pujols? But in this new environment for a guy to hit 60 HRs and lead the league in RBI is something historic. I'm probably the biggest Pujols supporter, but Howard is doing something historic. But I agree with you, striking out 175-180 times doesn't help the team.

KT: Nora? And Joe? Listen to me. In many many cases, striking out is the same as popping up, flying out, grounding out, fouling out, lining out, or swinging and hitting the ball twice, or having the ball roll down the first baseline and making contact with the ball in fair territory and being called out. These things are all "outs." They are usually the same. Sometimes it would be better for one's team to hit the ball in certain places in order to advance runners. But some other times it is actually better to strike out, so as to avoid double plays.

Ryan Howard is hitting .316/.422/.668 with a .345 EqA. He has a .422 OBP. He doesn't make outs a fantastic 42% of the time. That makes him one of the best players in the league at not making outs, which is very very important. If he is not making outs 42% of the time -- see if you can follow this logic -- who the fark cares how he makes his outs? Would you rather have a guy with only 41 strikeouts and a .350 OBP, who is legendarily good at "moving runners over?" Because you can have him. I'll take Howard, please.

Cody (Minneapolis): Its possible that the Twins could have the AL Cy Young winner, the AL batting champ and the AL MVP. Has that ever happened before?

Joe Morgan: That's a great question. I'm not sure if it's ever happened before. It would be a great accomplishment. I'm not sure if it ever happened before, but it could have happened a different way with a pitcher winning the Cy Young and MVP with a batting title, but I'm not sure about three different players. That would be quite an accomplishment.

What Joe Morgan Wishes He Could Have Written: First of all, Cody, save this bullshit for Kurkjian. Second, I don't know if it happened. But I'll tell you one thing -- it should have. 1975 Reds. Morgan -- MVP. Most Valuable MotherHumping Player. Of All Time. Don Gullett -- Cy Young. Davey Goddamn Conception -- Batting Champ. Ever Heard of Pete Rose? Silver Slugger Award, or something. Sparky Anderson -- MacArthur Genius Grant. Gary Nolan -- Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winner for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." And one Mr. Ken Griffey? President of the United States of America.

Tj (Omaha): Joe, do you think the Twins want the wild card over the division because they'd match up better against the Yankees in a best-of-5 series as opposed to a best-of-7 series?

Joe Morgan: Well, the first round is always, as they say, where the underdog has a shot at winning because of the short series. But if the Twins can beat them in five, they can beat them in seven, because Santana might be able to pitch three games instead of two. That's an interesting way to think about it.

KT: I like that Joe pauses mid-answer to praise himself for his interesting ways of thinking about things.

But you want to win the division if you can, because somewhere it will come in handy with home field advantage.

KT: I don't know how many times we have to point out that the '04 Sox, '03 Marlins, and '02 Angels were all WC teams. Eleven more times? Okay.

Jake (oregon): With the bullpen of the yankees being there weak point. Who in the bullpen do you see stepping up in the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: When the playoffs start, that's going to be a question mark. But a lot of teams have question marks. But in a short period of time, your weaknesses can turn into strengths and your strengths become weaknesses. But I think you're going to have to beat the Yankees to make it to the World Series.

KT: So..............which bullpen guy will step up, again?...................Not going to answer?.......................Okay. Thanks.

Aaron (Cincy): While Santana is automatic vs. most teams how do you see him stacking up against the Yankee lineup?

KT: Joe, you're an analyst. Remember that. Think about Santana, and about the Yankees' combination of left-handed and right-handed hitters. Think about his K rates, and the K rates of the Yankee hitters. Think about Giambi's recent injury, or Santana's success at keeping runners from stealing. Think about Santana not having lost at home since last August, or think about how Sheff and Matsui are rusty. Think about any or all of these things, and then answer the question in a specific and thoughtful manner.

Joe Morgan: It will be a test because the Yankees have a powerful lineup. He's capable of doing it and he can do it again. It's a good matchup for both teams.

KT: that, I guess.

John (Omaha): Joe, where does Bonds play next year?

Joe Morgan: I have no idea where he'll play. I have no idea.

KT: We also would have accepted: San Francisco.

luke (Oakland): Joe, how bout some west coast love? Dodgers, Oakland.

Joe Morgan: I like Oakland's chances. They're a very good team that plays well. The Dodgers are inconsistent. You never know which is the actual Dodgers. I know the A's are good, I just don't know how good the Dodgers are.

KT: Thankfully, you are not paid to voice your opinion on such things, because otherwise this would be embarrassing.

David (Boston): Joe: Do you think the Red Sox are more likely to take a step backward next year as they did this year or will they retool enough to make it back to the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: They have a chance to do both. It's a matter of what they decide to do. They didn't help themselves at the trading deadline this year and that's why they fell off.

KT: Yes. That's why. Had nothing to do with Varitek, Crisp, Manny, Nixon, Clement, Wakefield, Schilling, Papelbon, and Pena getting injured. Or Jon Lester getting cancer. Or Beckett wildly underperforming. It was not picking up, like, Tony Graffanino at the deadline.

Joe Morgan: A final thought is there's a lot of talk about the balls that Pete Rose signed. I don't think it's something that should have been done. But no matter what your thoughts on Rose, he is a good person. Even though some of the things he's done we might not agree with, he's still a good person.

KT: Yikes. This just makes me feel sad. For everyone involved.

Talk to you next week.

KT: When you do, think about these things that you said today:

Well, I'm going to have to wait until the season's over.

I haven't seen him play first baseā€¦

I don't know what the city needs

I'm not sure that's going to happen next year

I'm not sure how much he's going to want or how many years

I'm not sure if it's ever happened before.

I'm not sure if it ever happened before

I'm not sure about three different players.

I have no idea where he'll play. I have no idea.

I know the A's are good, I just don't know how good the Dodgers are.

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posted by Unknown  # 11:33 AM
VORP Update:

About a million people wrote in to tell me that Jeter is ahead of Ortiz in VORP now, by about one or so. When I started writing the JoeChat Ortiz was very slightly ahead according to BP. So, I apologize, you adorable stat goons.

Others wrote in to complain that Jeter is a bad choice because his line-up is way better than Morneau's or Ortiz's or something. I tend to agree, to a point, but the fact of the matter is, if you believe in things like VORP and Win Shares and stuff, you have to admit that the guy has had a great offensive year, playing a position from which a great offensive year is extremely valuable to his team. When Sheffield went down, the Yankees pretty easily found another offensive force in RF. All they needed was two warm bodies and about $50m over two years, once luxury taxes kick in. If Jeter had gone down, replacing his offense from that position would be very hard. And yes, I know the team went like 26-11 a few years ago when Ken Huckaby kneed his shoulder off, (totally accidentally -- a point that was lost to Admiral Leadership Nice-Guy Jones when Huck tried to apologize and Jeter iced him), but that to my mind shouldn't change the fact that Calm-Eyed Deke is at .340/.414/.483 with an 11.1 WARP3 and a .320 EqA+, playing above average defense from the SS position.

Live by the sword, die by the sword, fellow sabermetricians. Jeter's a good choice for MVP. You can make compelling cases for Morneau, Mauer, Hafner, and Ortiz -- and many will in the coming month, and they will not be "wrong." Any of those guys makes a good choice, I think, depending on which criteria one uses. But in terms of "value," on an individual basis, it's hard to make a compelling argument against Jeter, other than that his power numbers aren't great.

Morneau, for example, is .323/.378/.566, and blows Jeter out of thte water in traditional power #s. So does Ortiz, and obviously Hafner. But Morneau's WARP3 is only 8.4, so Jeter has been worth almost 3 whole wins more to the Yankees than Morneau has to the Twinkies. Jeter's SB-CS are 32-5, Morneau's are 3-3. Jeter has walked more, and has more hits, and plays a tougher position, etc.

In other words: it's tough to believe in what I believe in, and still say that Morneau is more valuable than Jeter. Such an argument would be partly based on who else is in these two line-ups -- a bunch of HOFers for Jeter, Mauer and no one for Morneau -- but I'm not sure that should be a big consideration, frankly. We have advanced statistical ways of measuring a player's value independent of his teammates' values, and I think we should use them.

End transmission.
Re: the sabermetric argument for MVP Jeter.

I'm reminded of that line from "The Contender" (the movie, not the ESPN series): "Principles only mean something when you stick to them when it's inconvenient."

I'm pretty sure she was talking about WARP3 at the time.

I like the way you wrote, "I am reminded of that line from The Contender..." Like everyone is so familiar with The Contender that we all remember that line.

P.S. I'm mostly getting hammered for talking up Jeter for MVP. I'll post some responses later.
If you take one thing from this discussion, it's this:

Joan Allen sez Jeter for MVP!
Also, KT, you wrote:

If Jeter had gone down, replacing his offense from that position would be very hard.

The Yankees are the only team for whom that wouldn't be hard (because Cap'n Jetes already forced A-Rod to play out of position in the first place). I know what you mean, but still.
Junior, that last comment reminds me of that line from the Blur song "Look Inside America."
This whole discussion reminds me of that Brancusi sculpture.
Weird, because I think it reminds me of that other line from "The Contender."

You're welcome, readers!
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