Yes, We Certainly Shouldn't Make a Big Deal Out of This; After All, You Would Never Do Something Like That Yourself
Scoop Jackson has written one of the ol' "people are making too big a deal out of this insignificant thing that I will devote an entire column to" column:
A molehill of an issue
Has it really come to this?
A team that is expected to be one of the elite teams in its conference and possibly battle for a trip to the NBA Finals opens the season at 4-9, and when it finally wins on the road after losing six in a row, we're sitting here talking about headbands.
So we see here that Scoop thinks the basketball issues are more important than the headband issue. (It's fun to imagine Scoop saying "Headbands?" like Jim Mora said "Playoffs?") Fine. But wait: later on in the very same article, Scoop writes:
See, what Wallace should do, since he's on this defiant trip, is tell Paxson, "OK, I'll abide by the headband rule if you stop letting (or giving away, as the Bulls did during the home opener to welcome him) fans wear those back-to-slavery Buckwheat wigs during games."
Goofy, dumb Ben Wallace wigs are "back-to-slavery"-level racist? Wow. Remember, this column has the word "molehill" in its title.
The Bulls center seemingly has no problem with the team using his hair as a marketing tool.
''You always want to give the fans something they can relate to, something they can have a little fun with,'' Wallace said. ''When we get the fans in there and they've got their wigs on, that lets you know they're definitely going to be into the game."
I guess he didn't read the article, because then he would have learned two important lessons. One: don't make mountains out of molehills, and two: afro wigs equal slavery.
Ned Colletti is cornering the market on leadoff hitters. One year after signing Rafael Furcal to a surprising three-year, $39 million contract, the Dodgers GM landed Juan Pierre for five years, $45 million.
They apparently will bat Pierre in the No. 2 spot, using his high-contact, low-impact approach in a traditional, Nellie Fox fashion. It's amazing that a guy the Cubs were ambivalent about re-signing could land a five-year contract, but Pierre has a good reputation within the game and led the National League with 204 hits.
"This man gets on base an awful lot," Colletti said. "He gets 200 hits or more, is a great guy on a club and, like Nomar (Garciaparra), has great qualities as a human being."
.260 is league average. And it takes SB into account, so don't start yelling about his SBs.
At least Pierre averages 12 HR. Per 4110 AB.
Can Juan Pierre's great qualities as a human being reach base? Because if they can, he might be worth the forty-five million dollars they are going to pay him until he is 34 years old. Hitting him second is going to murder this offense.
And as the linked blurb goes onto say:
Pierre also led the league with 20 caught-stealings, the fifth time in six years he has been at the top of that category. The most troubling stat was just 32 walks in 740 plate appearances. Pitchers have realized there's no reason not to challenge him.
The Dodgers would have been better to re-sign Kenny Lofton and wait another year on 22-year-old Matt Kemp, who has shown he can become a dynamic force in center.
Ned Colletti is so much better than Paul Computeresta, isn't he?
Sportswriters: when you make an argument, it's cool to back it up with evidence. It just is. It gives you more credibility. It makes people think you're a conscientious writer who's paying attention. And sometimes, it validates the headline of your article (which I'm aware is often written by an editor. But still.)
For example, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune just wrote a column called Why Morneau, Not Jeter, Deserved the MVP. I will now document for you how many sentences in this column explain why Morneau, not Jeter, deserved the MVP.
I am brainless. I have no clue. I attend about 150 major league games per year but never watch a pitch. I have clubhouse access four hours per day, but I'm too busy twiddling my thumbs to glean any insight from the players and coaches.
Not a good start. Joe starts off on the defensive, complaining about people who complained about his MVP choice. That's four sentences of sarcastic crying, zero sentences of evidence (unless you count the oblique appeal to authority that he's talked to players and coaches and therefore he knows better than you). In other words, I was one of 28 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America entrusted with an American League MVP ballot. If you spent time in the blogosphere this week, perhaps you read about morons like me.
More crying, this time specifically about the blogosphere. Hi Joe! Six sentences, no Morneau explanation.
ESPN.com called Justin Morneau a "laughable" choice for MVP. Foxsports.com called his selection "downright criminal."
I mean, those aren't really even blogs. Those are big mainstream sites. Maybe they're onto something, Joe. Eight sentences.
My ballot went like this: 1) Morneau, 2) Derek Jeter, 3) Frank Thomas, 4) David Ortiz, 5) Joe Mauer, 6) Jermaine Dye, 7) Travis Hafner, 8) Carlos Guillen, 9) Jason Giambi, 10) Johan Santana.
We're getting warmer. That's some information, at least. Frank Thomas, by the way, finished 22nd in the AL in VORP, a purely offensive stat. You may be aware of the fact that Mr. Thomas also does not happpen to play a defensive position. I'll count this list as one sentence, so that's nine so far. Look, I welcome any and all criticism. Just don't assume I didn't give this a shred of thought beyond home runs and RBI.
More defense. I particularly enjoy the "Look, I like it when you criticize me" defense in the first sentence. (These are the tenth and eleventh without Morneau info.)
I looked at OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). I looked at month-by-month statistics, averages with runners in scoring position and two-out RBI.
Here we go! The meat of the argument! Here's where Mr. "I have four hours of insight-gleaning clubhouse access every day" convinces us all! Oh. Uh oh. These statistics aren't great. They aren't great at all. OPS vastly overrates SLG over OBP. Averages with runners in scoring position? Two-out RBI? Yeesh. I don't think those stats should even crack the top ten of numbers you look at when determining which player is the most valuable. Two-out RBI?
Also, by the way, Mr. Christensen, what were the results of your looking at OPS and looking at two-out RBI? Not gonna tell us? Cool. I don't read newspapers for information.
I'm pretty sure saying "I looked at OPS" doesn't count as evidence, so we're on a sweet 13-sentence data-less streak here.
I had conversations with coaches and players from around the league, many off the record. Let there be no doubt: The Twins themselves felt Morneau was their MVP.
I've been thinking about it, and I don't think this is a very good way to pick your MVP. Let's perform what our good friend Hans Christian Orsted would call a gedankenexperiment. Say there's a fictional professional baseball team with two really good players on it. One of the players -- we'll call him Player Shithead -- is a real shithead. The other one is a seriously awesome, totally sweet dude -- we'll call him Player Dickface. Now say one year Player Shithead totally outplays Player Dickface. I mean, on the field, he's clearly more valuable -- 13 more points of EqA, 2 more wins by WARP3, plus he plays a more difficult defensive position considerably better than Player Dickface. But that same year, Player Dickface keeps being the same seriously awesome, totally sweet dude and he buys all his teammates Bentleys for their birthdays. Meanwhile, Player Shithead lamely sends his bros birthday E-cards -- that is, if he even remembers, that shithead.
The point is, everyone on that team picks Player Dickface as their MVP. Because of the Bentleys and stuff. But I think Player Shithead should be the MVP because he's a better, more valuable baseball player.
These two sentences are the first Christensen's written that even approach something resembling evidence for Justin Morneau. Since they're so crappy, I will count each as half a sentence, making him one for fifteen.
He gave them the run-producing presence they had sought for years, and his transformation changed the team's entire season.
Ugh. Doesn't matter what the Twins did last year, or in 2001. Doesn't matter. Half credit. 1.5 out of 16.
Eventually, my top choice came down to Morneau and Jeter. Morneau had the statistics, especially over the final four months.
Wow. There you go. Morneau had the statistics. Morneau had the statistics. It's as simple as that, you bloggy eggheads! Blogheads. Eggblogs. No elaboration necessary. No explanation of how, why, or in what way Morneau had the statistics. Can't fit that in this column, what with the thirteen-sentence whiny prologue.
We've been over this before, but I'll type out here what I think some of the relevant statistics are.
Jeter WARP3: 12.1 Morneau WARP3: 8.6
Jeter Win Shares: 33 Morneau Win Shares: 27
Jeter VORP: 80.5 Morneau VORP: 52.0
Jeter EqA: .324 Morneau EqA: .315
Jeter RC: 138 Morneau RC: 121
Jeter FRAR: 39 Moreau FRAR: 16
Jeter WPA: 5.98 Morneau WPA: 4.46
Jeter OBP: .417 Morneau OBP: .375
(By the way, I'm counting "Morneau had the statistics" as part of Christensen's argument. See how generous I am? 2.5 out of 18.) I also believed if you took Jeter away from the talent-rich Yankees, they still win the AL East. Take away Morneau, and the Twins don't make the playoffs.
Right -- because the Blue Jays and the Red Sox were terrible, Justin Morneau deserves the MVP. You know what, Christensen? I'll give 'em to you. 4.5 out of 20.
Finally, I wrestled with the "homer" factor. Was I picking Morneau simply because I cover the Twins? Quite frankly, I might have listed Santana in the top seven, if I hadn't listed two other Twins so high.
These sentences have nothing to do with the discussion of whether Morneau was better than Jeter. Your objectivity should be a goddamn given. 4.5 out of 23.
Let's just say I felt better when the 27 other ballots drew similar conclusions. I know most of these writers very well, and I can assure you they agonized over their choices just like me. Criticize us all you want, but I believe these awards are in very good hands with the BBWAA.
Thanks, I did criticize you. It felt great. Of course you believe the awards are in "very good hands" -- they're your hands. Anyway, that's the end of the article. That's it. Ends in more defensive bullshit. Twenty-six sentences. Four and a half of them (maybe six if you're feeling really charitable) deal with the substance of the argument: was Morneau in fact more valuable than Jeter? None of them do so in a serious, thoughtful way. Don't we deserve better than that?
Here, it's not my job, but I'll make a quick attempt at an argument for Jeter over Morneau. Jeter led Morneau in many (most/all?) of the semi-robust offensive metrics: EqA, VORP, RC, WPA. Moreover, Jeter had a forty-point advantage in OBP, and the single most important aspect of a hitter's job is to get on base. Forty points isn't a trivial lead -- some players who trailed Morneau by forty points, for example, include Willy Taveras, Jose Bautista and Alfredo Amezaga. Morneau did have a staggering advantage over Jeter in power, but it's my contention that Jeter's on-base lead overwhelms that advantage, and the metrics bear that out. On top of all this, Jeter plays a premium defensive position, one that is difficult to fill, with adequate skill. Baseball Prospectus has him at 39 fielding runs above replacement, which is actually better than adequate. Morneau, meanwhile, plays the defensive position at the very top of the defensive spectrum, and he doesn't do it particularly well by most accounts. BP has him at 16 FRAR. In other words, most baseball players could step in and do what Morneau does defensively, but the same is not true for Jeter.
Hey, see that? It's nine sentences and sixteen lines of data (earlier in the post) about Derek Jeter and Justin Morneau and the results of their play on baseball fields. All that stuff plus the rest of the nonsense making fun of Joe Christensen took about twenty minutes to write while I also watch the USC-Notre Dame game. Couldn't Joe Christensen have done at least that much?
By the way, the stats for Dickface and Shithead are correct for Morneau and Joe Mauer. But I'm pretty sure that Mauer didn't send anyone an E-card for their birthday this year. I think he gave Nick Punto one of those customizable teddy bears that comes inside a balloon.
I realize that you're talking about a hypothetical "Team MVP" vote, but I feel it's once again necessary to point out that the BBWAA clearly state that character evaluation is not only allowed as part of MVP voting, but indeed listed one of the very criteria.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
Now. I have no idea if Mourneau is a better dude than Jeter. But, I still believe that a case could easily be made that Jeter's actions/words re: A-Rod's alleged "slumping" were demonstrative of questionable character and loyalty (in an otherwise unblemished character-career).
More importantly, we may not like it for many reasons, but certainly these writers are in a much better position to judge players' characters, dispositions and loyalties than we are. Now, that doesn't mean that they'll necessarily make the right judgment. But we simply have to concede that the MVP race -- as it is now -- is not simply meant to be a measure of which player was "the best" or, in a broader sense, which player had the "Most Valuable" on-field performance.
In a way, talking to teammates and managers could be considered doing the same kind of homework that we're doing by looking at (more relevant) numbers. (Again: like it or not.)
And I know, Junior, that your point is larger than MVP voting -- that, say, if building a team from scratch, you'd rather have the really good dickhead on your team than the mediocre saint. So would I. Yet I think any stat-based criticism of MVP voting warrants the long-winded caveat our readers are currently not enjoying in any way.
Yeah, I remember that third criterion. But I choose to weigh it significantly less than the baseball-related qualifications. Plus, if you read what Christensen wrote:
Let there be no doubt: The Twins themselves thought Morneau was their MVP.
I think it sounds like he's defending himself from the numerous people who were saying Mauer or Santana were more important to the Twins. I agree with those critics because in my opinion, their baseball contributions overwhelm what their teammates think of them.
There's a good continuation of this Morneau vs. the field debate over at Lone Star Ball. The guy compares second-half OPSes and two-out RBI, which Christensen seemed to weigh super heavily. (Hint: some guys who did really well in two-out RBI included great MVP candidates Hank Blalock, Richie Sexson and Torii Hunter. Also: A-Rod!)
Again, I am very very cautiously on Team dak here. I would add, in JR.'s defense, that this dummy didn't get anywhere near quoting the official BBWAA criteria for MVP, nor did he suggets in any way that Jeter's behavior in any way affected his vote.
I think what dak and a very cautious KT are saying, really, is:
the MVP has weird and vague criteria, and it's essentially a popularity contest, and people like Terry Pendleton win it for like "veteran leadership" and shit, and there's not really a whole lot of value in sportswriters even trying to justfy their vote, because the criteria are in fact so vague that they can kind of do whatever they want and justify it "officially."
What still burns me, ironically, is Jeter winning the Aaron Award for Best Offensive Player. Because when you take away the position he plays (not that you should, at all, for things like MVP, I think, but in the case of the Aaron Award you must,) and simply assert that he is the best offensive player, then, my friend, you are an idiot.
Derek Jeter. The Captain. Intangibles tangible-fied. The perfect biological specimen. God's real son. Jeter.
Most people know him as the late character actor Michael Jeter's little brother, but to me he'll always be the only baseball player whose tears cure malaria in whales. There's been a lot of talk about Jeter in the last few days. Men who deal with numbers have declared him overrated, almost to the point that many are now saying he's underrated. This discussion bores me. How can you overrate or underrate a glorious sunset? A sunset just is. That's Jeter.
Wallace Matthews agrees with me. In the span of three days he's written two paeans to Jeter, one before the American League MVP vote and one after. Here are some excerpts from the first:
He's won it clearly, cleanly If you can give baseball's most prestigious honor to Barry Bonds six times and to Alex Rodriguez twice, don't you think it's about time the academy showed some love for Derek Jeter?
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I've heard of Derek Jeter. I know him. That's why he's the MVP. I've heard of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez too, but they're bad men. I know this to be true. Bonds won it six times? Surely Jeter deserves it at least that many as well. He's nice.
I know, the MVP is not supposed to be a lifetime achievement award, but it's not supposed to be a stats competition, either.
Amen. Stats can't capture Jeter's essence. He's more than a ballplayer. If you wanted to describe the most beautiful songbird in the world singing a Mozart sonata to an innocent child, would you use numbers to do so?
Jeter has been in consideration multiple times in his 11-year career, but always there was either some guy with eye-popping numbers to go along with his forearm veins, or else there were simply too many other Yankees with legitimate claims to the award and they canceled each other out.
Jeter doesn't have veins in his forearms, just rivers of quicksilver and liquid gold that spring forth from his luminescent heart. You probably didn't hear about this because he hates publicity, but Derek Jeter saved Christmas last year.
The perception that the Yankees never quit, that the Yankees play smart baseball, that the Yankees will find any way to beat you, all come from Derek Jeter. He doesn't represent the Yankees so much as the Yankees represent him.
The Yankees are but a collection of mortal men. Derek Jeter is infinite. Eternal. Every time Derek Jeter steps on a baseball field, a town in India sees their food troughs fill with millet.
It is amazing - and in a way frightening - that a 32-year-old man with so much out there for him away from the ballpark can remain as single-mindedly focused upon baseball as Jeter has all these years.
Frightening and awesome, like seeing the face of God, but better. Sexier. Granted, those are tickets to Cooperstown, not the MVP award, but if we are going to reward numbers, artificially enhanced or not, then for once, why not reward "intangibles," the qualities that can't be juiced?
Here Mr. Matthews is uninformed. In the late 1960's, a group of baseball players came into possession of a serum developed by Japanese scientists that exponentially increased one's intangibles to dangerous, superhuman levels. Calling themselves The IntangiBros, these players quickly left the game of baseball to pursue higher callings. Unbeknownst to the public, they fought injustice around the world and in the late 80's brought about the end of the Cold War. Derek Jeter is an honorary IntangiBro.
So what if Mauer edged him out for the batting title on the last day of the season, or if Morneau hit twice as many home runs as Jeter did? Despite what A-Rod told Esquire, I have yet to hear anyone in baseball say, "We better not let Joe Mauer beat us." I have heard plenty say it about Jeter.
This is beyond baseball. What Wallace Matthews has heard about Derek Jeter is what should determine the MVP award. It's only common sense.
If it's any consolation to Derek Jeter, in 1980 "Ordinary People" won the Oscar for Best Picture over "Raging Bull." A quarter-century later, people laugh about that one and someday, they'll laugh about this one, too, the year Ordinary Player, otherwise known as Justin Morneau, was named the American League's MVP for 2006.
In fact, Jeter's probably already laughing about it.
Ordinary Player indeed! Matthews, you know how to keep it current, my friend. If I may extend the analogy, I think you will have no argument with the proposition that Joe Mauer is The Elephant Man, Frank Thomas is Tess, and David Ortiz the beautiful Coal Miner's Daughter. Jeter's detractors use a lot of insults to describe him: cold, condescending, aloof, bloodless, a robot programmed to play baseball.
Every time I open up the paper I see some guy saying that Derek Jeter is a robot programmed to play baseball. A condescending robot. That's why I stopped reading and started feeling. The truth that Derek Jeter is the MVP isn't out there. It's in here. (I'm pointing inside my heart.)
But Jeter doesn't exist to placate teammates or the media, or to accumulate statistics and accolades. By all available evidence, he exists to win baseball games, not awards.
That is the best summation of Derek Jeter I have ever read. Sprung forth whole like Athena from Zeus, Jeter won a game in his first minute of life, 1-0 on a beautiful squeeze play. People aren't aware of this, but on days when the Yankees lose, he actually doesn't even exist.
[Y]ou know that if Alex Rodriguez dies without a World Series ring but with his two MVPs, he will die smiling.
Wallace Matthews will test this theory at 10:30 pm Eastern time. I will not reveal how or where, but the plan is in place.
The Yankees who won four world championships in five seasons never had an MVP. and they certainly don't need another one now.
MVP? More like MV-pee-pee! More like MV-poo!
What they need is a return to the hunger and drive and resourcefulness that Jeter has embodied since he was a rookie and that he continues to bring to the park as he approaches his mid-30s. A-Rod, Giambi and Johnson have their awards, but they don't have a trace of any of that.
That's why none of them have ever won a championship. Ever. Especially Randy Johnson. I refuse to look this up, but I am 100% certain that Randy Johnson has never won a World Series because he lacks the necessary hunger and drive and resourcefulness. And he isn't performing now because he is so full and undriven and resourceless. It's not because he's old. For Jeter, it would have only served as one more reminder of what has gone wrong with the Yankees over the past six years.
Too many MVPs. Not enough rings.
Matthews is right. Jeter isn't about the MVP. Jeter didn't want the MVP. If Jeter had won the MVP, he would have donated it to Mother Teresa, and when he found out Mother Teresa was dead, he would have buried it with Pat Tillman, because after all, he's the real MVP. Besides Jeter, that is. Because the real real MVP is the guy with the rings. Not Pat Tillman.
And we know he can produce in the clutch from that monster 2004 MVP season that culminated in a sublime 32-point, 21-rebound Game 7 against the Kings. We can also agree, his career would have been different if he had somehow switched places with Duncan.
Okay, no real problems here. Garnett had a great game that I vaguely remember.
But maybe KG is too passionate for his own good.
Uh oh. What about that Game 7 ... ?
By all accounts, he's so wound up before games, it affects everyone around him; he wouldn't even allow anyone to listen to music in the locker room before Cassell arrived. He's not above punching teammates in practices. And he's famous for yelping ferociously after big plays, clenching his fists and screaming toward the ceiling like a WWE wrestler.
The first thing is kind of dickish, the second might be a problem chemistry-wise (but I've certainly heard similar stories about Jordan and Bird), the third thing ... not sure that impacts his basketball abilities that much.
He's never learned to adapt his game to the situation; he plays the same in a mid-November blowout and a deciding playoff game, which explains why he seemed spent during the 2004 conference finals against the Lakers.
The argument takes a strange turn here. Kevin Garnett, by Simmons' own estimation the fourth-greatest power forward to ever live, can't "adapt his game to the situation." He's penalized by Simmons for playing hard in the regular season. And he's completely "spent" in the 2004 conference finals, a series that began literally two days after KG dropped 32 and 21 in Game 7 against the Kings. (I looked it up. May 19 and May 21.) Remember that game, Bill? You wrote about it four sentences ago.
That was his longest season by far -- seven months and exactly 100 games -- and in classic KG fashion, he averaged 24-14-5 in the regular season and an almost identical 24-15-5 in the playoffs.
Strange strange strange. What kind of basketball monster magically posts dramatically better statistics in the playoffs? I looked up Michael Jordan's numbers, and even they're not significantly better -- he scores three more points per game than in the regular season (in four more minutes per game), and that's partially because his creaky Washington years lowered his regular season average. So putting up the same statistics in the playoffs isn't "classic KG fashion," it's classic NBA player fashion. It's all players.
Here, just to make sure, let me check Shaq's numbers. Regular season Shaq: 26, 12, and 3. Playoff Shaq: 26, 12, and 3. Hmm. Someone can't adapt to the situation!
Let me also add that there is absolutely nothing wrong with averaging 24, 15, and 5 in the playoffs. Superstars like Duncan know when to dominate and when to keep something in reserve for big moments.
Aargh. Regular season Tim Duncan: 23.3, 12.7, 3.3. Playoff Tim Duncan: 24.1, 12.7, 3.6. My point isn't necessarily even that Tim Duncan doesn't dominate big moments. It's that these statistics are woefully inadequate for even coming close to proving anything of the sort. It's like trying to split one of Billy Koch's Morgellons fibers with a battle axe. I'd rather he just leave the pretend statistical evidence out of it and just admit that he's writing about a gut feeling and nothing more here.
KG plays only in fifth gear.
Duncan fucking sits on his ass for half the year idling in neutral like the lazy shithead he is. Jordan had an actual mechanical switch in his back that Scottie Pippen would manually set to the proper gear according to the situation. Only Pippen, though. One time Bill Cartwright tried to get at the switch and Jordan bit his left hand off. That's why Bill Cartwright doesn't have a left hand. True story.
P.S. Regular season Larry Bird: 24.3, 10.0, 6.3. Playoff Larry Bird: 23.8, 10.5, 6.8 (in four more minutes per game). Classic Bird fashion.
Every day in my hotel I get a little distilled edition of the NY Times slipped under my door. Today I read it as I sipped my coffee and watched "Tommy Boy" on F/X Buenos Aires. (It loses something in the translation.) And today, my NY Times distillation had an article about the AL MVP voting (which had not yet happened). The title of the article was "Jeter Looms as an MVP Candidate."
In the distilled article, there was a quote from worthless pontificator Tim McCarver, who believed that Derek Jeter should have been MVP. Why, you ask? WARP3? VORP? WPA? EqA? Probably EqA. That's McCarver's like go-to stat. I can't quite remember...well, let me just re-read the article and refresh my memory as to why Jeter should be MVP.
"Derek Jeter is different from all the other power guys," said the Fox broadcaster [sic] Tim McCarver..."It's not like he doesn't do anything from a numbers standpoint; he does a lot of things. But he's different, and you have to consider him differently. If Phil Rizzuto can win the MVP in 1950, Derek Jeter can be a candidate 56 years later."
Now, if any of you loyal readers out there ever question again why we at FJM despise Derek Jeter, or Tim McCarver, please just read that quote.
Derek Jeter is different. You have to think of him differently.
Now. It's possible that what McCarver is saying here is:
"Derek Jeter is different from the power guys. You have to take his position into account. You have to realize that the numbers he puts up as a SS are perhaps more valuable than the numbers Justin Morneau puts up as a 1B. Therefore, let's use things like VORP and WARP and stuff to determine exactly how valuable this guy is to his team."
I don't think that's what he is saying, though. I think he is talking about intangibles, here.
Perhaps that is a leap for me to make, here, in Argentina. But look again at that qualifier: "It's not like he doesn't do anything from a numbers standpoint; he does a lot of things." He brings up how Jeter has good numbers, which leads me to surmise that when he talks about how Jeter is "different," he is not actually talking about numbers at all, or about comparitive numbers among players at different positions. Plus, I have heard McCarver talk about Derek Jeter so often, and so miserably faux-poetically, that I'd be willing to bet 10,000 pesos (about $3500 US, give or take) that McC is saying that in a metaphysical, poetic, intangible way, we have to think of Derek Jeter differently.
And to that extrapolated exhortation from McCarver I say: no, sir. No we do not. We do not have to think of him differently. We have to think of him exactly the same as we think of any baseball player. We have to consider his position, yes. But when it comes to evaluating his contributions to his baseball team, we absolutely do not have to think of him "differently".
He does not possess superhuman powers. He is not physically handicapped. He is not a warrior-poet. He is not blessing us with his very presence. He is not a wizard. He is a baseball player.
He should have been the MVP because of how good he is at baseball. Not because of his calm eyes (a phrase McCarver, I believe, invented) or his intangibles or his steely gaze or his charisma or his elegant gait or his composure or the fact that he's currently schtupping Jessica Biel.
The thing that really bugs me is, McCarver is right about the Rizzuto-in-1950 comparison, but not the way he thinks he's right. Rizz had this line:
Phil Rizzuto, 1950:
.324/.418/.439 122 OPS+ 7 HR 112 RC .296 EQA
And there were certainly bigger power guys, like Larry Doby and Vern Stephens and stuff. (Teddy W. would assuredly have won the award if he hadn't played in only 89 games due to Korea -- he hit 28 bombs and had a .338 EqA in those 89 games. Also, did you know he had a farking .419 EqA in 1941? I mean, holy shit.) But, Rizzy had a 12.3 WARP3 because he played SS. Much the way Calm Eyes McGee had a 12.1 this year. Although, to be fair, DJ is a way better offensive player than Rizzy ever was.
I might have actually given the 1950 award to Yogi Berra, who had a 10.5 WARP3 and a .303 EqA, going .322/.383/.533 with 28 HR. But really, I would have given it to him because in 597 AB he struck out TWELVE TIMES. Look it up. That is batshit insane, my friends. But I digress.
The point is, Tim McCarver is a dumb dummy. And he is right about Rizzuto/Jeter for exactly the opposite reason that he is arguing. And no one should ever think of Derek Jeter, or anyone else, "differently" when evaluating him/them.
And if McCarver says tomorrow that all he was talking about was VORP and WARP and RC and FRAA and EqA, I will take this all back. And I will eat my sombrero.
Stephen A. Smith, Mr. Quite Frankly himself, is apparently still slumming it in the newspaper business every now and then. To comment on Stephen’s latest piece, we’ve invited a very special guest blogger to join us here at FJM. Please welcome Stephen’s polar opposite, Dr. Frank Quietly.
Dr. Frank Quietly: … (quietly) Hello. (gently sips a cup of chamomile tea)
Dr. Frank, as is his wont, is going to offer reasonable opinions about reasonable things at a reasonable volume. His thoughts will appear in a normal, reasonable typeface, Stephen A. Smith’s in bold.
Stephen A. Smith | Only one clear choice for National League MVP
Stephen, I respect your opinion, but I’m afraid I’m already going to have to disagree with you here. There are at least two legitimate candidates for the NL MVP, with the most qualified probably being Albert Pujols.
We don't know much about the Phillies these days, and to tell you the truth, we really shouldn't care. When you lose perpetually, give 101 lessons in the art of public non-relations, keep missing the postseason, and evidently are allergic to progress, it's pretty difficult to ask anyone to stand up and take notice.
If you didn't have Ryan Howard.
It seems you will be endorsing Ryan Howard for the award. I’m open to this. I’m sure you’ll provide a well thought-out rationale for your opinion.
Except the Phillies do have Ryan Howard. The same kid who smacked 58 homers, drove in 149 runs, batted .313, and had a .659 slugging percentage.
That’s a good start. These numbers are impressive. Pujols trailed Howard in home runs and RBI but led him in batting average and slugging. Quite a race we have here!
He symbolized the only reason fans had for showing their faces around Broad and Pattison during summertime.
All right, Stephen. Interesting. I’m not sure how heavily we should weigh fan appeal, or more specifically Philadelphia fan appeal, in the MVP selection process, but do carry on.
Oh, did I mention he should also end up as National League MVP?
To be honest, the title of your article gave me more than a little hint. And oh, by the way, if you wouldn’t mind, the proper sports commentary protocol is to employ “And oh, by the way …”, not “Oh, did I mention …”
The result of the voting for the National League's most valuable player is expected tomorrow and, with apologies and respect to Albert Pujols, the vote shouldn't even be close.
I’m only one man, but it strikes me as somewhat disrespectful to Mr. Pujols to say that the vote shouldn’t even be close. He did lead Mr. Howard in WARP3 by the count of 12.9 to 9.4. Your turn, Mr. Smith.
Of course, there are naysayers who'll spew otherwise, vociferously pointing out how the league's 2005 MVP still had 49 homers with a better batting average and slugging percentage than Howard - despite missing 15 games in June because of an injury.
Consider this my vociferous spew, then, my dear Stephen! Pujols also led Howard in VORP, 85.4 to 81.5. VORP does not take into account defense, which even the staunchest Howard supporter will admit is not his strongest suit.
They'll be the same people I accuse of not paying much attention last season.
I … I don’t understand, Stephen. We are all baseball fans here. No need for personal attacks. A civil discourse is all I ask! (Pujols is also a better baserunner than Howard.)
You don't just look at the stat sheets or the box scores to measure the impact of Ryan Howard.
Then where, pray tell, might we look? I must confess I’m growing rather impatient with you.
You view the landscape of MLB then ask yourself, "Where did these fans come from?"
Fan appeal? Again? “Landscape” of MLB? These are your MVP criteria? Pujols EqA: .357. Howard EqA: .346.
Who are all these people who weren't watching the Phillies before? This franchise hasn't made the postseason since 1993, so why on earth are stadiums packed whenever they come to town?
People interested in a playoff race? Also, were stadiums really packed for the Phillies last year? More importantly, you still haven’t convinced me that this has very much MVP relevance.
Where did all the African American fans come from?
Now Albert Pujols has to draw fans of a certain race to compete for the MVP? Good God, Stephen, I don’t mean to shout here, but be reasonable for one second!
Why haven't we heard about steroids? Mark McGwire? Barry Bonds?
Apologies to Mrs. Quietly and those with delicate sensibilities, but WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING? People were still talking about steroids all year – how the new policy would affect home run rates, the Roger Clemens rumors, even Kenny Rogers’ (re?)surgence. And ESPN was running a Bonds HR count on their ticker all year. People talked about Bonds a little less because he was no longer OPSing 3.000.
The answer would be because there's no need. Because Howard is the real deal. He's the modern-day athlete major-league baseball was starving for.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Ahem. Sorry. FUCK. Stay calm., Quietly. Reasonable. Serene. Ryan Howard saved baseball?!? He’s like the fiftieth most famous guy in the league! According to Quite Frankly over here, he single-handedly stopped people from even thinking about steroids. How is that possible when Mark McGwire is still four hundred times more famous than he is?
"I care about winning," Howard told me several weeks ago, right before he left town to smack homers all over Japan. "I care about winning and doing it the way it's supposed to be done. Everyone wants to get paid, to be successful. But sometimes it's as much about how you do things as well as what you do. I know that. I'm aware of that."
The same can be said of Pujols, who is as big-time as they come.
So even you admit there was no point to that quote.
The St. Louis Cardinals would not have sniffed the postseason without him, let alone captured a World Series championship. But the reality is the talent that is Pujols, while fairly unique, is a dime a dozen in the laundry list of Latin talent that has invaded baseball.
There are so many problems with that last sentence even I, Dr. Frank Quietly, can’t let it go. Pujols, while fairly unique, is a dime a dozen? “Dime a dozen in the laundry list” is an amazing two clichés in seven words. Invaded? Invaded? Jesus, that’s negative. What if someone wrote that African-Americans invaded the NBA? That would sound terrible. Albert Pujols led Ryan Howard in WPA, 9.24 to 8.20.
When you think of Pujols, you also think of Manny Ramirez and David "Big Papi" Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez.
What? What?! What in the -- ? I’m sorry. (Goes to get a drink of water. Paces around a bit. Pets a friendly dog. More water. Sits in an easy chair. Smokes a cigarette. Another cig.) Okay, I’m back. When you think of Pujols, you think of Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and/or Alex Rodriguez? What kind of statement is that? Because they all speak Spanish, you lump them all together? A-Rod, by the way, was born in the United States, just like Ryan Howard. When I think of Albert Pujols, I think of Chris Carpenter and Scott Rolen, because they’re his teammates. Or I think of Derrek Lee, because in 2005 they both hit for crazy average and crazy power, which is pretty unusual. I certainly don’t think of fucking A-Rod.
They play great baseball, but that's it.
Yes, David Ortiz plays great baseball and that’s it. No one’s ever talked about David Ortiz’s personality. He has no charisma whatsoever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile. What a lifeless Spanish-speaking fuck, just like Alex Cintron, another Latino-or-whatever man who plays baseball. (Hey, Stephen A. Smith, this is Dr. Frank Quietly, and I’m being a fucking sarcastic asshole because of you. I hope you’re happy.) In Howard's case, not only has he performed, he's single-handedly transformed the focus of a sport, forcing baseball - and possibly the rest of us - to take a closer look at potential African American prospects perhaps through something more than Reviving Baseball in the Inner City (RBI) programs.
Look, Ryan Howard had a great year. Is it possible – possible – that you might admit that what you wrote here is hyperbole, Stephen? Held back - some might say hidden - by the Phillies for far too long, Howard has burst onto the scene in less than two years in the majors. And he's done it with a Magic Johnson-like smile despite the Phillies' unwillingness to show him some money and his being surrounded by limited, wannabe talent.
The Phillies hated and discriminated against Ryan Howard so much they traded away Jim Thome to make room for him. Ryan Howard has had to play in a lineup surrounded by no-talents like Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. Ryan Howard, FRAR: -4. Albert Pujols, FRAR: 28.
Meanwhile, we'll pray they get rid of Pat Burrell and his $27 million over the next two years for a leftfielder who actually looks interested in playing 150 to 162 games a year.
Funny you should mention him. Burrell, 2005: 154 games played. Burrell, 2006: 144 games played.
In the meantime, there's Howard, who ranked either first or second in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage. He's given Phillies fans a reason to hope for a change.
Yes, you made note of his home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage already.
Numbers are being retired all the time. Baseball prides itself on setting precedents while maintaining tradition.
Honestly. I mean – Jesus. What in the fucking bloody vag does a sentence like “Numbers are being retired all the time” have to do with Ryan Howard for MVP? (Ed. note: Please excuse Dr. Frank Quietly’s vulgarity. Dr. Frank Quietly’s words do not reflect the sensibilities of the editors of Fire Joe Morgan.)
Awarding a difference maker on the field - and in the community at large - has always been baseball's version of a home run.
Huh. I always thought that baseball’s version of a home run is the motherfucking home run itself.
Pujols deservedly got his recognition last year.
It's Howard's time now.
It doesn’t matter who won last year. To recap:
Pujols WARP3: 12.9 Howard WARP3: 9.4
Pujols VORP: 85.4 Howard VORP: 81.5
Pujols EqA: .357 Howard EqA: .346
Pujols FRAR: 28 Howard FRAR: -4
Pujols WPA: 9.24 Howard WPA: 8.20
Pujols Number of Times Single-Handedly Saved Game of Baseball: 0 Howard Number of Times Single-Handedly Saved Game of Baseball: 1
I’m not really that angry that Ryan Howard won the MVP. He had a legitimately wonderful season, and after all, it’s just the MVP, so who cares? In the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of far better reasons to become extremely angry. Like Stephen A. Smith.
Junior here. Reader Andrew provides this amusing information: "As a side note, Smith suggests that Howard's success should encourage scouts to focus more efforts on recruiting black, inner-city talent. Please note that Ryan Howard went to the same high school (Lafayette Senior High) as my girlfriend. That school's student population is 84% white."
Alert: Ryan Howard may not actually have been a rich white suburbanite. Brad writes: "I just wanted to let you know that there is a high probability that Ryan Howard is actually from the city of St. Louis . Lafayette is in St. Louis County which is predominately white, but kids from the city are bused out to the suburbs through a de-segregation program in order to make more diverse classrooms."
No better way to get yourself on FJM than to utter the magic phrase "clogs up the basepaths." I don't think I'll ever get tired of making fun of those four wonderful words. As a bonus, in this edition, the person accusing the clogger is someone intimately involved in actual baseball decisions: one of "20 general managers, assistant GMs, and assorted scouts and personnel people," according to Jerry Crasnick.
The question on the table is Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee? Sir, your argument? "Even if he doesn't hit a homer, he can find a way to get in scoring position," a Soriano booster said. "He can score from first on a double. Carlos Lee is a great hitter, but he's a liability defensively and he clogs up the bases."
Yes, Soriano is a vastly superior baserunner, so at first, it seems like this "clog" use isn't that egregious. But here's the thing: Carlos Lee isn't even that slow. He's certainly not Frank Thomas. Last year, Lee stole 19 bases and only got caught twice. He's 96 for 128 for his career, for a 75% clip. Not terrible. I mean, two years ago in Texas, Soriano only stole 18 bases. Basically, what this guy is saying is, "Sure, Carlos Lee is a great hitter, but he only stole three fewer bases than Grady Sizemore and one more than Carlos Beltran last year! That is unacceptable!"
Some scouts are paying attention to reality, I guess, because this was also in the article:
"He has surprising speed for a big, fat guy," an NL scout said.
Unsure if you're the kind of person who will like FireJoeMorgan.com? Here's a quick, fun, one-step test to see for sure! Read the following Mitch Albom passage:
When you change a base metal into gold, it is called alchemy. And the person who does it is called an alchemist. Jim Leyland certainly turned lead into gold this season, he played the alchemist, and he earned this award. His nickname is the White Wizard, and this weekend, at some point, the wizard should toast himself for a job well done.
In his corduroy robe.
All done? Great! If you enjoyed this passage, congratulations: you are not the kind of person who will like FireJoeMorgan.com! Please enjoy never coming back here again!
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.
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?" "Yeah?" "Hey -- it's Minka Kelly, from 'Friday Night Lights.'" "Hey, Minka. What's up?" "I want to have sex with you." "...Huh." "Something wrong, Ken?" "No, I mean...you're super hot, and I love your show, but...you 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." "Hey...do 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 FIRED BY THE BLUE JAYS LAST YEAR.
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.
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.
A rather large hattip to our dear friend Dan, who points out that in accepting the National League Cy Young award, Brandon Webb manages to invoke the first, second, and third persons in the span of three short sentences.
"It was pretty big emotions. We were very excited for it. It's with you forever."
Joe Theismann is doing his damnedest to get us off our asses by being a giant idiot in print for all the world to see. I'm talking about his latest Cup o' Joe. It's a cup full of retard juice.
I'll tell you why. The column's called
A look at the young guns
and he talks about five such guns in it. Two of the guns are Bruce Gradkowski, 23, and Seneca Wallace, 26. Fine. The others, though? David Garrard and Joey Harrington, 28-year-old guns, and Damon Huard, a motherfucking 33-year-old gun. Huard has been in the league for ten years now. He's probably a grandfather, like most 33-year-olds are. Come to think of it, it's Garrard and Harrington's fifth years in the league. They're two years older than somewhat established gun Michael Vick and only a year younger than downright middle-aged-seeming gun Marc Bulger, who already has 14,447 passing yards.
Frankly, it's my own fault for assuming that the title of a Joe Theismann column would have anything to do with the content of that same column. He could have called the thing "A look at giant prehistoric sharks" and I wouldn't have been surprised.
Well, I would have been sort of pleasantly surprised and I would have liked him a tiny bit more. Especially if it had pictures of giant sharks with silhouettes of human beings and cars next to it for purposes of scale.
The "argument" Plaschke makes is that the Dodgers should be psyched that J.D. Drew triggered an option in his contact -- to leave the team and become a free agent -- because he was bad news and had a bad attitude and no one remembers his RsBI. So, good riddance.
Fine, whatever, you're entitled to your opinion, Bill. But then towards the end, as Junior notes, he writes this:
In the end, there's no reason for anger by anyone. Drew was just exercising his rights. Boras is just doing his job. The Dodgers eventually will get what they want. None of this was illegal or unethical.
If you want to be upset, be upset at former general manager Paul DePodesta for giving Drew such a misguided quit clause in the first place.
Junior correctly notes how insane it is that he blames this on DeP. But it goes beyond that, I think. If Plaschke feels this way about Drew, shouldn't he be happy that DePo gave him the out clause? Why would you be upset about this, Billy? Your irrational hatred of Paul "The Computer" DePodesta is so overwhelming, you are now taking shots at DePo even when DePo did something that you are arguing helps the Dodgers.
How do you not see that contradiction, Bill?
He hung up on me. Oh well. I'm sure he'll read this post. He's a big fan of ours.
I think Plaschke's logic is this: J.D. Drew is a shitty, lazy player that makes your team lose. Paul DePodesta signed J.D. Drew, so that's strike number one. Strike number two is that Paul DePodesta is so stupid and incompetent that he let J.D. Drew sign a deal that lets him leave halfway through his contract, so even if he played well by some fluke, the Dodgers would be screwed. Strike three is that he is a nerd who wears glasses.
From our friend Bill Plaschke, explaining why the Dodgers should be glad to be rid of J.D. Drew: Sure, he led the team with 100 runs batted in last season, but do you remember more than a handful of them?
We'll call it RBIR, for RBIs Remembered. Drew only had 5 (!) last year. What a lousy player. Jeff Francoeur led the league with 249 RBIR. (People remembered a lot of his RBIs two or three times.)
If you want to be upset, be upset at former general manager Paul DePodesta for giving Drew such a misguided quit clause in the first place.
We get it. You hate Paul DePodesta. Everything bad that's ever happened to the Dodgers is unequivocally the fault of Paul DePodesta.
The Dodgers have finally rid themselves of … what's his name again?
Drew. His name is J.D. Drew. You live in Los Angeles and cover their baseball team. Last year, J.D. Drew led that baseball team in actual RBI, OBP, and home runs. But maybe since you didn't remember that, it didn't happen. Yeah, that's probably it.
We haven't posted in a while, but there's a good reason. Dak, Junior, Murbles, Chester and I all checked into the Scott Hatteberg Wing of the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs for a week of intense Eckstein Detoxification. Twice-daily therapy sessions, combined with three square helpings of baseballprospectus.com site-surfing, and we're as good as new. We barely even remember how tall Eckstein is, much less how much he weighs. And the words "small man/big heart" no longer cause us to have grand mal seizures. They are now petit mal seizures. Progress.
There is not a lot of terrible sportswriting going on right now, that I can find, at least. I would like to note that the anti-ARod sentiment has gotten so bad that even award-givers have drunk the Kool Aid. For the record:
2006 Silver Slugger Award-Winner Joe Crede:
.283/.323/.506 28 BB 30 HR .278 EqA
ARod, Who Can't Hit in the Clutch and Is a Head-Case:
.290/.392/.523 90 BB 35 HR .317 EqA
Congratulations, Hillerich & Bradsby Co. You are now every bit as stupid as everyone else!
There's this series of kids' books out called the Harry Potter books -- pretty sure you've never heard of it. I only know about it because I'm such a voracious reader. Anyway, Harry is this little wizard kid who runs around doing magic and such, and one of his fun toys is a cloak that turns you invisible. Sort of a level one idea in a story about magic, but I digress.
The point is: I'm 99% confident that Derek Jeter possesses and wears a cloak that causes other people to see his intangibles instead of his physical form. I'm going to call this thing the Cloak of Intangibility because it's a name that makes a lot of sense. The science on the cloak is fuzzy, but intangibles aren't about facts or science. Intangibles just work. So it was that everyone who saw Derek viewed him through a hazy, intangibly prism. I mean, look, we'd heard for years how special he was -- how captain-y, and how Truly Yankee-y. That cloak was working like gangbusters for Derek. But today is a banner day, because today Phil Taylor turns Derek Jeter's Cloak of Intangibility against him. It's all there in the title:
Jeter's no MVP Captain's lack of leadership sank Yankees' hopes
Delectably crazy already.
Now that baseball's postseason is over, the individual awards will soon be handed out, including the American League MVP. Boston's David Ortiz and a trio of Twins, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana, are all viable candidates for the hardware, and there will be no complaints from this corner if any of them win. The only injustice would be if the award goes to the player who may just be the favorite: Derek Jeter.
We've gone over this many times on FJM. Derek Jeter led the AL in VORP by a hair over Travis Hafner. There are arguments to be made here, but none of them end with the conclusion that giving the MVP to Jeter would in any way be an "injustice." Let's save the word injustice for the Rwandan genocide.
There's no question that Jeter had a fabulous year, finishing second in the AL batting race
and helping the Yanks to the best regular-season record in the league.
Care just a little tiny bit maybe.
But Jeter, the Yankees captain, was also derelict in his duty this season. The supposed team leader led everyone in pinstripes except the teammate who needed him most -- third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
He led the fuck out of Brian Bruney. He grabbed Bernie Williams by the scruff of his neck and willed him to that .768 OPS. He kidnapped Chien-Ming Wang and read the entirety of Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human to him despite the fact that Wang speaks little to no English. Jeter didn't care. He read it aloud in its original German -- a language neither of them understand.
Jeter is the Yankees' Teflon shortstop, the golden boy to whom no criticism ever sticks. He is a clutch player, to be sure,
It's in plain view! When I look at him, I see only a halo of clutchness, no mortal body. This entity has transcended the plane of tangibility. Where was I?
But in the most crucial area, the A-Rod area, he was a crashing failure. Rodriguez was a psychological mess by the time the postseason rolled around, desperate to be accepted as a "real" Yankee,
Please -- it's True Yankee.
Manager Joe Torre buried him in the eighth spot in the batting order in the final game,
An act we can, in hindsight, completely blame Derek Jeter for.
So now the Yankees have an emotionally fragile star on their hands and no idea what to do with him. Trade him, rehabilitate him, what? It's sad to see a great player fall so far so fast, but the saddest thing of all is that Jeter might have been able to keep the situation from getting this bad.
Because of his special powers. Just imagine: what else does Jeter have besides his cloak? A Leadership Hat? Hustle Stirrups? Scrappy Shoelaces? Remember, the issue we're discussing here is the MVP. A-Rod is a man of tremendous insecurities, even though he struggles to appear as though he has none. He craves acceptance, and on the Yankees, there is only one man who can bestow that him, and that man is the sainted Jeter. All the Teflon shortstop had to do, at any point in the season, was to let it be known that he was on A-Rod's side. The rest of the Yankees, and then the public, would no doubt have followed suit.
Still talking about the MVP award. Did I mention Jeter had a .324 EqA, his best since 1999? And while his power wasn't stellar, he did OBP .417. But let's get back to the real MVP nitty-gritty: how well did Jeter make A-Rod play?
A few words of support to the media would probably have done the trick. Jeter's never been much of a talker, so perhaps that was too much to ask, but words weren't even necessary. It would only have taken a token gesture from Jeter -- a hand on A-Rod's shoulder,
Gayer, please --
some horseplay in front of the television cameras
And now a scene from Phil Taylor's forthcoming stage play MVP!:
MVP Committee Chair: Let's not mince words, Derek. You were a great hitter and an adequate fielder this year. Derek Jeter: Where did I go wrong? MVP Committee Chair: There was one area in which you were startlingly deficient. Derek Jeter: Oh no. It's not what I think it is, is it? MVP Committee Chair: Yes. I'm afraid so. Derek, this year you were absolutely terrible at televised horseplay. Unbelievably bad. The last time someone was this bad at televised horseplay was Edd Roush in 1923, before the invention of television or horses. Derek Jeter: I -- I understand. MVP Committee Chair: Now would you please tell Mauer to come in here? We have reason to believe he failed to give enough hugs to Nick Punto this past season. But the Yankee captain couldn't bring himself to do that. By his silence, by his body language, he sent the unspoken message that he had no interest in helping A-Rod out of his funk. Go ahead and boo him, go ahead and rip him in the press, Jeter seemed to be saying. I don't like him any more than you do. By all accounts Jeter has never forgotten some mildly disparaging remarks A-Rod made about him years ago in a magazine article. But apparently he has managed to forget that Rodriguez switched from shortstop to third base when he became a Yankee rather than ruffle Jeter's feathers, and that he has deferred to him at every turn ever since he came to New York.
I suspect that some of this utter speculation is true. But how does this fit into anyone's conception of how the MVP should be awarded? Let's blackball David Ortiz because Josh Beckett didn't pitch well. Screw Jermaine Dye -- what did he do to prevent Neal Cotts from imploding? Phil Taylor, you're just building my case: Derek Jeter owns a piece of clothing that causes people to forget about baseball and needlessly make up stories about what kind of person he is. It may be a cloak. It may be a coat. It may be a knit cap, although I find this proposition to be laughable.
Whatever sin A-Rod committed against Jeter, he has more than paid penance for it. Jeter is no one's MVP until he finds a way not just to accept A-Rod, but also to help him.
I think Phil Taylor will be surprised when he wakes up on November 21st and reads that Derek Jeter has handily won the 2006 AL MVP Award when everyone knows he is no one's MVP.
I will not be surprised, however, when the following unfolds at Derek Jeter's open-casket funeral in early 2008:
Joe Torre: To me, he was the Captain. The Truest of Yankees. The Zeus of Clutch. The real President of the United States -- forget who's in the White House. (A young boy walks up to the casket, and before anyone can stop him, he pulls back the Cloak of Intangibility. The crowd gasps.) Hideki Matsui: It can't be! Jason Giambi: This man -- Jorge Posada: This god -- James Earl Jones: -- is just a baseball player. Yes: an earthly, human baseball player with no magic in his bones nor sorcery in his blood. (A lengthy, solemn silence.) Phil Taylor: Whoa! No fucking way!
You're all going to think I'm crazy, but I sort of -- sort of-- agree with this guy's point.
The BBWAA have criteria for MVP voting. To keep things in the family, you can find that stuff here, in the middle of an old JoeChat.
The third listed criterion is: 3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
I'm looking at general character and loyalty. Now, I wish these things weren't in the list of criteria for MVP voting, but they are.
Here's what I think: I don't think Jeter necessarily did a bad job of leading A-Rod. I disagree with Taylor on that point. But I do think that Jeter had plenty of opportunities to say that any talk of A-Rod struggling was absolute 100% butt-a-fucking hogwash. He never did. He didn't quite throw him under the bus, neither. I have to paraphrase here because it's late and I don't feel like looking up quotes from the year, but I remember his general take being "whatever happens, we're right there with him. Through his good times and bad."
I think he was a total dick. I think a good teammate stands up and says: "he's not struggling. He's awesome. Write a new story. This is bunk. I'm going to start a blog making fun of sports reporters because of the things you say."
And I don't know excactly what's meant by "character" and "loyalty," but I could see Jeter's actions in re: A-Rod's performance counting against him. Don't think it's a huge deal, but I just barely agree with this guy's point, so I wanted to write something to stick up for it.
Don't get me wrong -- it's a terrible article and his reasoning is generally awful. Let's just not toss the whole notion out; I think it has some merit.
I'm aboard the dak train on this -- though I buy my ticket regrettably. The thing I keep going back to is when HGH Boy was hitting like .190 in April a few years ago with like no HR, Jeter stuck up for him hard core in the press -- he said something like "We need Giambi to help us, and this booing stuff ain't helping." (That is assuredly a direct quote -- don't bother checking my facts.) But with ARod it's "he doesn't need me to stand up for him."
Whatever. Jeter is a sensitive guy who's still upset about that dumb like GQ article. I think he's lame for that. I don't know if that should impact the MVP. But then again, all BBWAA-voted-on awards are stupid anyway, as evidenced by Mo Vaughn beating Al Belle for MVP the year Belle had 100XBH, mainly beause no one liked Belle and they thought Mo was like a "character" guy, even though Mo was always stumbling drunk out of strip clubs.
Or how Jeter just won his motherhumping third Rawlings Pepsi Burger King Microsoft Vista Gold Glove Award, despite being terrible at gloving things.
You must know a guy at work who's lazy. When the company needed him this summer, he flopped big time. The old boss was always explaining away his failures. He will drive the new boss crazy.
I see where you're going with this. The "guy at work who's lazy" is ... let me think ... Aramis Ramirez! The "company" is ... the Chicago Cubs! The "old boss"? Dusty Baker! The "new boss" is ... hmm, I don't know. Donald Rumsfeld?
They don't call him Greg "Transparent, Boring and Unimaginative Analogy" Couch for nothing.
Now, he's demanding a massive raise. And somehow, through all that, he has the company by the you-know-whats.
Greg Couch: Here's my article, boss! Editor: Greg, this has the word "balls" in it. For the last time, you can't use that word. This is a family newspaper. Greg Couch: How about nuts? Editor: No. Greg Couch: Nads? Editor: No. Greg Couch: Huevos? Certainly I can say huevos. Editor: No. Greg Couch: How about nutsack? Editor: No. Greg Couch: Ballsack? How about just sack? "Aramis has the Cubs by the sack." I like the sound of that. Boss? Editor: Goddammit, Greg, no. Every article you turn in has the word "balls" in it, sometimes fifty times or more. Remember that column you wrote about Matt Murton? Half of the paragraphs were just the word "balls" written over and over again. Greg Couch: (pouting, silence) Editor: Greg? Greg? I'm sorry, Greg. I didn't mean to snap at you like that. Greg Couch: (more pouting) Editor: Uh, I'm going to go talk to Sara about that problem with the fax machine. (Editor exits) Greg Couch: I've got it! Hairy balls! (Later that night, Greg's editor replaces "hairy balls" with "you-know-whats." He sighs. Greg, he thinks, is the lazy guy at this company who is totally flopping big time.)
For some reason, the prospect of losing him is seen as a disaster.
Remember, we're still talking about Aramis Ramirez here. Here are some reasons why the Cubs and several other teams are interested in Aramis' services:
EqA's over the past three years: .299, .303, .306
Home runs, past three years: 38, 31, 36
OPS+, past three years: 126, 137, 136
Can someone please explain to me how to get into Aramis Ramirez's world?
Sure. Be born with extraordinary natural physical gifts: uncanny hand-eye coordination, immense strength in your legs and upper body, the ability to track a baseball moving at 95 miles per hour. Play baseball for hours on end every day of your life until you get a chance to go to America and compete at the highest level. Practice, practice, and practice some more until you're one of the forty or so best human beings in the world at hitting major league pitching. Congratulations, you're there. Simple, really.
Ramirez, the Cubs third baseman and professional base-jogger, filed for free agency this week.
Forget his remarkable offensive contributions. The guy has the fucking hairy balls to insult us all by jogging around the basepaths. That's not hustling. He's making a mockery of the game! Mark my words: he will never win a hideous yellow Corvette for hitting a routine fly ball that makes Curtis Granderson slip and fall down on a patch of wet grass.
''Everybody says he doesn't hustle. He just hustled at the wrong time and wrong situation.''
Remember when Dusty Baker said that about Ramirez this summer?
Frankly, if Dusty Baker doesn't like a player, it's probably a positive.
Look, there has to be some way to live without Ramirez. I mean, the Cubs died with him in 2006. He's 28, hit .291 with 38 home runs and 119 RBI. And that all sounds great.
Look, people: Lazy Guy at Work sold 800 widgets for us last year and our company flat-out sucked. Let's get rid of him and his stupid "sales," and we'll be rolling in it! Let's show some hairy balls, people!
When people used to say that Sammy Sosa's 60 homers were all hit at meaningless times, I used to laugh at such a stupid thought. But, really, Ramirez's homers were, in fact, all meaningless.
Oh. My. Fucking. Hairy. Balls.
Monday, July 24th: Aramis Ramirez hits a two-run home run in the fifth inning. The Cubs win 8-7. The home run is later rendered meaningless because Greg Couch writes an article on November 1st.
Tuesday, July 25th: The very next day, Aramis hits another home run and records three RBI. The Cubs win 8-6. The home run is later rendered meaningless because Greg Couch writes an article on November 1st.
Sunday, August 13th: Aramis clubs a two-run shot in the third. The Cubs go on to win 8-7. The home run is later rendered meaningless because Greg Couch writes an article on November 1st.
Thursday, September 14th: Aramis goes deep with two men on in the bottom of the seventh. Cubs win 6-5. The home run is later rendered meaningless because Greg Couch writes an article on November 1st.
The Cubs needed him at the start of the year when Derrek Lee got hurt. And Ramirez hit .239 until the Cubs were safely out of everyone's way.
And from those 150 or so at bats, we can definitively conclude that Aramis Ramirez will never, ever hit well when the Cubs need him. The situations in which the Cubs need him will be determined by one man, Greg Couch, several months after the fact.
No, there are better ways to spend $15 million.
David ... Eck ... st ... ?
For example, Alfonso Soriano apparently wants $17 million.
Soriano will hit 50 homers at Wrigley and steal 40 bases.
Really. You're going to state that as absolute fact. The same Alfonso Soriano who has never ever hit 50 home runs in a season, ever. Is this a park factor thing? Of the 46 he hit last year, 24 were at RFK. Plus, in two seasons in hitter-friendly Texas, he only managed 28 and 36.
The Cubs, according to Newsday in New York, are trying to work a trade with the Yankees for Gary Sheffield. He has one year and $13 million left on his contract.
Make the trade, Cubs. And also sign Soriano.
You must know a guy at work who's angry all the time and hates his coworkers. When he got transferred to a branch he didn't want to work for, he just gave up completely and sulked in the corner. Pretty much everyone agrees this guy at work -- let's call him Gary -- is a total asshole. Plus, this hypothetical angry guy -- I don't know, let's say his last name is Sheffield, making his full name Gary Sheffield -- is known to be a guy who took work performance-enhancing drugs, probably making him angrier and crazier.
Let's get this guy. But fuck the lazy guy.
That's two players, $30 million. It appears that Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt are going elsewhere, so how about signing Texas' Vicente Padilla and St. Louis' Jeff Suppan for the rotation? What would that cost, another $13 million? Re-sign Juan Pierre to what would probably be a small raise, and you now have a good team.
How about we overpay for two guys with WHIPs of 1.38 and 1.45? And then give a raise to our .330 OBP leadoff guy? I mean, all put together, it's going to cost more than resigning the 28-year-old power-hitting third baseman. But he doesn't hustle. The Cubs are just so far away with so much to do.
And still, even after all that, there's no third baseman.
Oh. Dammit. How did that happen? Maybe, um, Sheffield can play third? (Sheffield throws a bat at your face.)
Hendry would have to find someone serviceable, maybe even give a shot to Scott Moore, Detroit's former first-round pick.
Or you could sack up and have the hairy balls resign a guy with three consecutive > .900 OPS seasons. Balls. Nutsack.