Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Thursday, November 16, 2006


The Big "Huh?"

That's my attempt at a clever title for a bad article written about Frank Thomas. What do you guys think? Honestly. You can tell me honestly. I want to learn.

Anyway, here's the article. It was sent to us by our loyal reader James, and it features the musings of rapidly-becoming-my-new-favorite-sportswriter Richard Griffin, about the Blue Jays rumored signing of Frank Thomas. Let's take a look-see.

Not wishing anything bad on an aging ballplayer who penned the best comeback story of the year, but the best thing that could happen for Jay fans in the next week would be if Frank Thomas failed his physical.

Huh. Tell me why, there, Dick.

The anticipation of poor health is only wished upon the two-time former AL MVP if the reports emanating from the general managers meetings in Florida are true, that Toronto is on the verge of signing the 38-year-old slugger for a mega-contract of three years. Bad move.

Yeah, I figured you would only want the guy to fail his physical if he were about to sign with the Jays. Otherwise, if you're just randomly hoping that guys fail their physicals, you're just a weird asshole.

For an organization that prides itself on thinking outside the box, in looking for key players in the discount bin of discarded, or lightly regarded talent, the Jays, by pursuing Thomas, are showing very little in the way of middle-market imagination.

So...they can only sign guys who are lightly regarded or something? If a guy who fills a need for the Jays (DH) and can be signed for short years becomes available through free agency, they shouldn't look at him unless he fulfills the requirement of being "discarded talent?" Why?

Dropping a plodding slugger into the heart of the order only serves to make this team more one-dimensional than ever.
The Jays should have seen the folly of that way of thinking in the second half, when their prized acquisition, third baseman Troy Glaus, slumped due to nagging injuries and, as much as he should be admired for playing through pain, dragged down an offence that went through the first half of the year as the AL leader in batting average and near the top in run production.

Well, they still finished second in the AL in team OPS and fourth in OBP. And Glaus still struggled to the tune of (in 153 games) 38 HR, a .293 EqA and a 7.4 WARP3. Which was the exact same WARP3 as Alex Rodriguez. Who, despite what you might have heard, is actualy very very good at baseball.

All of the greatest Jays teams have combined extra-base power and batting average with the ability to steal a base and go aggressively from first to third and from second to home on a hit.

Richard Griffin's Recipe for Success:

Look to the past for how to build towards the future.
Disregard how much the game has changed in 15 years.
Sign Kelly Gruber.
Sign Manny Lee at SS.
Ignore cold hard facts, like that the "Great" Blue Jays teams of the past also had phenomenal starting pitching and bullpens.
Ignore certain other cold hard facts about the hitting on those teams, like that the DH on the 1992 World Champion Blue Jays was 40 year-old Dave Winfield, who hit 28 HR for that team.
Sign Pat Tabler.
Practice writing every day!
Love your parents.
Be Prepared

The World Series years in the early `90s and the playoff seasons through the mid- to late-80s always included smart, aggressive base running. For every John Olerud there was a Devon White.

Devon White had a .303 OBP in 1992. If he was smartly and aggressively running the bases, he wasn't doing it that often. (Amazingly, he had a 7.5 WARP3, which shows you what a phenomenal defensive player he was.)

Now along comes the broken-down Thomas to take whatever managerial skills John Gibbons ever showed out of his hands. The Jays skipper is an NL guy at heart. He has always annoyed his GM, J.P. Ricciardi, by insisting on bunting runners into scoring position in late innings. After watching Thomas in the playoffs against the Tigers, there is nobody in baseball who runs the bases with less aggressiveness and speed. It's not his fault, due to an assortment of injuries, but the fact is Thomas makes Bengie Molina seem like Donovan Bailey.

"Hey, Ken?"
"Hey -- it's Minka Kelly, from 'Friday Night Lights.'"
"Hey, Minka. What's up?"
"I want to have sex with you."
"Something wrong, Ken?"
"No, I're super hot, and I love your show, can't run that fast."
"I'm sorry?"
"I don't know. You definitely have a lot of other skills. Like being hot, and having a perfect human form, and a great smile and flawless skin...and just to reiterate, you are crazy hot. But I really don't like to commit myself to a woman unless she can also run very quickly."
"...Okay. Well. That's fine."
"I'm sorry -- I just...I learned from the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin that even if you have certain skills in abundance, unless you can run the bases aggressively..."
"No, I get it. I guess."
"Cool. Thanks, for understanding, Minka."
" you have Junior's number?"

As for the rumoured cost of acquiring Thomas, it would be in the area of $10 million (U.S.) for three years, or two plus an option, taking the Jays though 2009. If Ricciardi thought that Carlos Delgado's contract was an untradeable albatross, he ain't seen nuthin' yet.

We're talking about a 2-year deal. Maybe 3. They will not have to trade Thomas. (Also, after Delgado signed his current deal, he was traded to the Mets. Neither here nor there, I guess.)

[Thomas] has a longer history of clubhouse divisiveness than he has of leadership — the one year in Oakland. Is he the kind of core, character player that the Jays claim to want to place under contract? No.

He is the kind of core, character player who put up a .316 EqA and 39 HR in a large baseball park last year. He also seemed to get along with his teammates just fine.

The Jays would have been better off going after a healthier right-handed hitter with extra-base power who could also play the corner infield spots and has a sense of baserunning that makes up for a lack of pure speed.

Someone like, hmm, Shea Hillenbrand.

This is one of the craziest things I have ever read. Honestly. I say that a lot, but I really believe this sets a new standard.

Frank Thomas has a history of clubhouse divisiveness.
He is not the kind of core, character plaer the Jays should go after.
They should go after a healthier right-handed hitter with extra base power who can play corner infield spots and a "sense of baserunning" that can make up for lack of speed.
They should get Shea Hillenbrand.

Shea Hillenbrand was dumped off the Blue Jays last year, if you all remember, for being one of the all-time assholes. He bitched and whined that no one congratulated him on adopting a child. He got into a fistfight with his manager. He is a famous -- FAMOUS -- malcontent.


A malcontent who, in 80 games for the Blue Jays, before being let go because he is such a colossal twerp, had a -1 FRAR. (He only played 36 games in the field.) He had a 1.2 WARP and a .262 EqA. In 139 games last year, with the Jays and Giants, he walked 21 times.

At least he has an excellent baserunning acumen, to the tune of 16 SB and 9 CS in 868 career games. (Thomas has 32 and 23, if you're interested.)

He also made $5.8 million last year, Shea did, while being (I can't emphasize this enough) such a horrendous, unrelenting pain in the ass that the Blue Jays gave him his unconditional release.

Congratulations, Richard Griffin. You have written what I believe is the dumbest article of the year.

(Editor's note: I take it back. This is the dumbest article of the year.)

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posted by Anonymous  # 10:58 AM
A couple of people have already written in to correct me: Hillenbrand was technically designated for assignement, not released. They also have pointed out that the Clubhouse Panacea Griffin wants for the Jays is the same guy who called Red Sox GM Theo Epstein a "fag." But he has a lot of smarts on the basepaths!...?...!
In the interests of fairness, I cut/copy/paste this theory from reader Richard:

I'm not a regular reader of Richard Griffin...I'm betting you aren't either. Is it possible that he's making a joke? For all we know...he lambasted Hillenbrand all season for being a douche in the clubhouse, and was making a joke to his regular readers like, "Yeah, we'll bring him back because he worked so well, WINK!" If he had given a bunch of reasons after mentioning him, I could see your angle, but because he just sort of drops the name off at the end of the article and doesn't say anything, well, I'm just saying it's possible he was attempting a funny.

I hope not. And I don' think so. But again, in the interest of farness, there's a possible explanation.
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