FIRE JOE MORGAN: Sportswriters, If You're Going to Blog ...


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Monday, October 09, 2006


Sportswriters, If You're Going to Blog ...

You've got to do better than this. SportsJustice, as the subtitle helpfully tells us, is "a sports blog with Richard Justice." It would have been weird if that were the name of Jason Whitlock's blog or something. Here are Richard's latest JusticeThoughts:

A-Rod to the Astros? Absolutely not.

Please, elaborate. You seem emotionally invested in this.

I'm getting e-mails about bringing Alex Rodriguez to the Astros.

Sure you are. The Astros were sixth-worst in baseball in runs scored, worse than the Royals and the Nationals. Your starting shortstop, Adam Everett, played in 150 games and posted a line of .239/.290/.352 for an OPS of .642. He hit six home runs in 514 at bats. This is no fluke. Last year his OPS was .654. Of all of the men who played American major league baseball this year and recorded 500 or more at bats, exactly one man had a lower OPS than Adam Everett. Ronny Cedeno.

(His EqA was .225. .2 2 5.)

To those of you who have written, let me ask you a simple question: Are you nuts?

No. They are probably interested in replacing one of the very worst offensive players in baseball with one of the very best. That is, at least in my opinion, not nuts at all.

Why in the world would you want to take another team's problem?

Because that problem, in a down year, went .290/.392/.523 with an EqA of .315. That problem hit 29 more home runs than a man you presumably deem not to be a problem, Adam Everett. Last year, that problem was the goddamn freakin' AL MVP. That is why.

If the Yankees want to trade Derek Jeter or Hideki Matsui, let's do business.

Really? Hideki Matsui is coming off a wrist injury that leaves his future at least somewhat uncertain, and in his very very best year as an MLB player, he basically did what Problem-Rod did this year. Also, the Yankees are paying Derek Jeter way more than they're paying Alex Rodriguez, when he's really never been as valuable a player until this season. Weird, huh?

A-Rod? Absolutely not.

Okay, right. That was your title again, pretty much.

First of all, the guy is walking, talking distraction. If the Astros get A-Rod, they ought to go get Terrell Owens, too.

Of course. A-Rod is T.O. How could we not have seen this? Who could forget the time A-Rod pulled out a Sharpie and signed home plate as he crossed it after a home run? Or the time he showed up the Red Sox by kneeling on their logo? How about that interview with Playboy where he insinuated Jay Buhner was gay? The shirtless pushups in his driveway? The suicide attempt? The time he raped Nicolette Sheridan?

By all means, I do actually think the Astros should sign Terrell Owens.

Players like that don't win. They split locker rooms. They have their own agendas. They're all about themselves.

Alex Rodriguez has been on five 90-win teams. I know he's never won a World Series and we're supposed to think that he's some sort of jinx or bad luck charm, but I don't really believe in jinxes. I also think that a 162-game sample is a more valid indicator of whether a team is good, or if you insist, a "winner," than going 1-3 against the Tigers over the course of a few days.

Second of all, A-Rod would see Houston as a trip back to Double-A ball. He'd separate himself from the other players. He'd let everyone know he was different. He'd care nothing about his teammates.

Wow. You know a lot about this guy.

Third of all, his salary means he's the type player you build a team around. Problem is, he's not capable of doing that. He's a great player. He puts up great numbers. But when the game is on the line, when it really counts, he's the last guy on earth you want on the plate.

As opposed to the first guy on Earth you want at the plate, Adam Everett.

I can't imagine he'd agree to a trade even though he's clearly miserable in New York, and the Yankees have to be miserable with him. Next time they trade for a guy, they ought to do their homework.

We're talking about whether the Astros should maybe call the Yankees and see if they're interested in an A-Rod trade. If they say, "No, we're not interested" or "No, Alex doesn't want to be traded," fine. You hang up the phone. Why would you pre-emptively speculate that A-Rod has no interest and convince yourself never to call at all? I don't get it. Maybe I just don't understand sportsjustice.

Baseball is a game of numbers to a large extent,


but the pieces still have to fit.

Oh. Pieces ... fitting. I get it. Like, for instance, the Adam Everett piece fitting into the .225 EqA hitter slot. And hey, let's just keep pencilling Brad Ausmus into the lineup. He's OPS-ing .593 and EqA-ing .215, but dammit he is a fitting piece.

There still has to be a feeling of oneness, a feeling that we're all in this together.

A feeling that we can, as a team, finish second to last in major league baseball in slugging percentage. We'll suck, but we'll suck as a team, and we'll feel warm and fuzzy and one-y while we're doing it.

(Have I even mentioned that Minute Maid is a hitters' park and we're still seeing these kinds of numbers?)

(Some of you friendly posters have compared A-Rod to Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran. Don't go there. Kent was an ornery guy who didn't say much. He also did wonderul work with young players, and when he messed up, he'd come back to the dugout and apologize to everyone around.

You read it right here. Richard Justice thinks Jeff Kent is a better guy than Alex Rodriguez. Because when he messes up, he apologizes, and he's "wonderul" with the kids.

A-Rod comes off as a phony. He supposedly once asked Cal Ripken the best way to shake hands.

And there you have it. Because A-Rod asked Cal Ripken how to shake hands once, your professional baseball team should absolutely never trade for him, ever. Basically, because he's a sort of lame guy who's "phony."

Listen, if Derek Jeter doesn't like you--and Derek Jeter has embraced a lot of different guys over the years--there's a problem.)

Or you're Ken Huckaby.

Joe Sheehan wrote a piece in Baseball Prospectus today that I liked a lot. I'm going to copy and paste a portion of it right here. I hope no one minds.

At just about any point along the way, one of the two most visible Yankees—Joe Torre or Derek Jeter—could have come forward and said what should be obvious: Alex Rodriguez is a great, great player, and in the worst season of his career he’s a star. Defining his season by his lowest points is doing him a disservice, and the constant focus on his play is an insult to the other members of the team. Whatever Rodriguez’s performance issues, such as they were, his overall contributions were valuable. Beyond that, he’s one of the game’s model citizens, with barely a controversy to his name in a time when so many others have been tainted.

That statement, completely true, would have done more to alleviate the pressure on Rodriguez than anything else. They didn’t do so, instead allowing petty nonsense like his desire to please people (heaven forfend) and his performance is varied subsets (in Boston, in the playoffs, against a small handful of pitchers, in 20 at-bats in July) to substitute for real information. They didn’t defend their teammate, and by allowing, even stoking, the situation, they absolved themselves and every other Yankee of blame for their fortunes. If they lost, it would be Rodriguez’s fault, no matter how the rest of them played.

Thank you, Joe Sheehan. Better than I could've ever put it. Back to SportsJustice:

He's not worth it, either in terms of salary (the team that acquires him will owe him $64 million over the next four years) or chemistry. A-Rod may be the kind of guy Tim Purpura would want, but I'm guessing the best GMs--Billy Beane, Gerry Hunsicker, Pat Gillick, etc.--wouldn't touch him.

First of all, you'd probably try to get the Yankees to kick in some of his salary. Second, in a world where A.J. Burnett gets $55 million for five years (and people are now saying that guys like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee could be asking for $70-80 million deals), four and sixty-four isn't that bad for someone who could have been (and still could be) the greatest shortstop of all time. I mean, honestly, he was headed there. His accomplishments on the field have been staggering, no matter how many Post back pages he's been on.

If you can get A-Rod for a reasonable price -- catch Steinbrenner in an emotional moment, perhaps -- I think you look into it. What you don't do is say "absolutely not" because his negative clubhouse chemistry quotient somehow overrides his baseball-playing ability.

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posted by Junior  # 6:08 PM
For those interested in digging a little deeper:

My whipping boy in this post, Adam Everett, is absolutely adored by the fielding evaluation system Baseball Prospectus uses. Or at least he is this year -- he's credited with 24 FRAA, helping him to a 5.6 WARP3 despite his abysmal hitting. It seems like this is an anomaly, though, since his last three FRAA years look like this: 3, 2, 1.

A-Rod crashed and burned fielding-wise, with a disastrous -20 FRAA. As a Yankee, he's been average to bad, with -6 and 6 the last two years. However, with Texas and Seattle (and at shortstop), he was regularly in the double digits (positively). And hey, since he was such a miserable third baseman, his WARP3 this year got knocked down to 6.9, only 1.3 higher than Everett's!

So there's your one piece of ammo, Richard Justice. Why trade for a headcase who only earned about a win and a half better than the guy you've got?

Of course, in 2005 A-Rod had a WARP3 of 12.5. Everett? 3.8.
Some questions from reader John Damon. I think that's his real name.

I am astoundingly curious how it is that Richard Justice is justifying Alex Rodriguez as being a 'clubhouse cancer' as the term may go. Does he know A-Rod? Has he interacted with him? A few key points:

Does A-Rod sit out half a season before deciding which team to play for?

Does A-Rod get special permission from Team Management to skip road trips he won't pitch in, and get special rooming accomodations?

Does A-Rod get accused of being a 'roid junkie by other 'roid junkies?

Does A-Rod blame the others on the Yankee offense for him not producing offensively and losing games?

(loud, audible whisper) -- I THINK HE'S TALKING ABOUT ROGER CLEMENS.
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