Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Buckle Up, Everyone

Lupica's got a new one. And it's a doozy.

Even at 100 RBI, A-Rod Yet to Earn Stripes

When I read headlines like this, I think to myself, "Man. If only I were part of a blog that exposed terrible -- indefensibly terrible -- sports writing." Then I wake up from my horrible nightmare, and realize I am, and I start typing.

Before we even get started, some cold, hard, mathematical, indisputable facts:

ARod, 2007:

EqA: .358
OPS: 1.077
WARP3: 13.4
Rank among all players in baseball in terms of goodness at baseball: 1

Hit it, Lupica!

Here is the deal on Alex Rodriguez, as the Yankees already begin to wonder what kind of deal it will take to keep him here:

The last Yankee to have better combined home run and RBI numbers at this point in the season was Lou Gehrig, in 1934...Roger Maris had more home runs than A-Rod at this point in '61, but had 97 RBI to go with them. Joe DiMaggio had 32 home runs and 110 RBI after 98 games in 1937. In 1956, Mickey Mantle, on his way to the Triple Crown, had 34 homers and 89 RBI, and in '61, he had 39 home runs at this point in the season and 91 RBI.

Seems like ARod is having a pretty good year.

Rodriguez should win a third MVP award this season whether the Yankees make the playoffs or not. And when that happens, when he is voted the most valuable in his league again, it is game on. It is game on because the Yankees will then have to decide just how valuable Alex Rodriguez is to them.

Oh -- is this the problem? You think they don't know how valuable he is to them? I can take care of this quickly. You should look at that WARP3 stat. That will tell you. Alternately, you could go here and look at his WARP1 stat, which is not projected out for the whole season like WARP3, and see that he has already been worth a pretty goddamn important 7.5 wins to the Yankees. Which means:

2007 Yankees, with ARod: 52-46
2007 Yankees, with no ARod, and some scrub playing third, like 2000 Scott Brosius: 47-51
2007 Yankees with a AAA guy playing 3rd: 44.5 - 53.5

And that is just ARod's WARP1 through July 23 versus Brosius's WARP1 for the whole year.

So, then, here is what ARod's presence is worth to the 2007 Yankees: a chance at the playoffs. Without him this year, they are right now trading veterans for prospects and looking to 2008. Joe Torre has been fired. Brian Cashman has been fired. Lindsay Lohan is running the team. Billy Crystal is in jail for war crimes. Paul Simon has burned down Jack Nicholson's house. Anarchy.

A team that reminds us constantly that winning is the only thing that matters will decide how much they are willing to pay a great star who has not won here. And might never.

If he were not here, your team would be under .500. They would be a laughing stock. Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney would be snatching up book deals that deal with the night George Steinbrenner murdered Gene Michael in a rage after Enrique Wilson hit into a game-ending 1-2-3-2 triple play to end a 1-0 loss to the Royals.

Never won here?! You people are boneheads. You are all boneheads. And when you and your ilk have driven ARod to Anaheim next year, and you can't get Miguel Cabrera, and suddenly you are relying on a bunch of 35 year-olds and Melky Cabrera for your offense, and your team sucks, don't come crying to me.

Ruth's teams won. Gehrig's teams won. DiMaggio played in 10 World Series and the Yankees won nine of them. Mantle won all the time. Maris played in five World Series as a Yankee and won two of them.

Here are some things that existed in those days: No free agency. 8 teams in a league. One round of playoffs. Other great players on those Yankee teams. (I like the artificial division between "Ruth's teams" and "Gehrig's teams," as if they weren't largely the same. And as soon as Ruth was gone, DiMaggio showed up. To say nothing of Dickey, Lazzeri, Ruffing, Gomez, Pennick...)

Also, in re: Roger Maris -- fuck the heck are you talking about?!

Maris, in 5 WS with the Yankees, went 20-107 (.187 BA). He was terrible. Then, in 1967, with the Cardinals, he suddenly went 10-26, hitting .385/.433/.538.

But he is a better Yankee than ARod...because...his teams...won...and that means...he is awesome...and a winner...and...ARod...is...not.

This is the stupidest shit I have ever read. I apologize for the vulgarity, but this is stupid, stupid, stupid.

If the Yankees do make the playoffs, either by catching the Red Sox or winning the wild card, if they do that and A-Rod hits more than 50 homers and becomes the first Yankee since DiMaggio to get to 150 RBI, of course his value only goes up, and Scott (Bag Man) Boras becomes even happier than when he finds loose change in the dryer.

"Bag Man?"

But say the Yankees don't make it.

ARod's fault. 100%. Fuck that guy. All he did was single-handedly keep the Yankees from being in last place and hit like 14 walk-off HR and probably win the MVP and average an RBI per game and have the best offensive year of any major league baseball player. Dump his sorry ass and move on. Because the way to improve a baseball team is: obtain worse players.

Say they now spend $200 million on teams that not only can't get out of the first round, they can't even get to the first round. Then how valuable is Rodriguez, who is going to want to start the conversation at $30 million a year, to the New York Yankees?

Extraordinarily valuable. 13-14 wins a year, all by himself, valuable.

Let me ask you this, dumbass. Why are you not hammering Mike Mussina, who is far closer to the cause of their woes this year than is ARod, and who is being paid $11m. Or Johnny Damon and his .267 EqA -- is that worth $13m a year through 2009? Or Giambi, and his $20m+. Why are you complaining about the only guy on the entire team who is exceeding expectations? What kind of sense does this make?

If they don't make it, here is the progression for A-Rod, such as it is, since the Yankees made the big trade for him:

2004: Lose in the ALCS to the Red Sox, blowing a 3-0 lead in the process, the most epic calamity in the history of the organization.

All ARod's fault. He was such a choking choker. He barely went 8-31 with 2 2B and 2 HR, putting up the line of .258/.378/.516. How awful. It is nowhere close to the awesome clutch True Yankee Mr. November Yankee Pride line put up by Derek Jeter:

6-30, no HR and one 2B.


That is such a better performance by Jeter. Because those stats were True Yankee stats. Those stats had Pinstripitude. Sure, ARod hit 2 HR and Jeter zero, and sure ARod was better in every single offensive category, but ARod's numbers were chokey. Jeter's were fucking calm-eyed and fist-pumped and Yankish. Jeter commanded respect with his five singles over seven days. He hit those five singles in a way that said, "Sorry, Boston, not today. Not in my house. Not when there are True Yankees walking around these hallowed grounds -- not when Bucky Dent and Scott Brosius and Jim Leyritz and Joe Girardi are still alive."

And it would have worked, too, if fucking ARod hadn't screwed it all up.

And yes, I know -- believe me, I know -- that ARod slapped that ball out of Brandon [sic] Arroyo's glove. That was dumb and messed up. But ARod did not hang a front-door change-up to David Ortiz in Game 4. He did not give up a 3-r HR to Mark Bellhorn in game 6. He did not get his ass handed to him by Damon and Ortiz in Game 7 like Vasquez and Brown. He did not blow two saves, like Mariano. And if it weren't for an outstanding diving, tumbling backhanded stab by Orlando Cabrera -- robbing ARod of a probable RBI single -- in extra innings of Game 4, ARod would have probably won the ALCS MVP trophy. And then what would you no-talent hacks be writing about?

2005: Lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Angels.

ARod: 2-15
Bernie: 4-19
Posada: 3-13
Matsui: 4-20
Tino: 0-8

Mussina: 8.1 IP, 11 H, 5 ER
Unit: 7.1 IP, 12 H, 5 ER

ARod: his fault

2006: Lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Tigers.

ARod: 1-14
Cano: 2-15
Damon: 4-17
Giambi: 1-8
Sheffield: 1-12

Mussina: 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER
Unit: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER
Jaret Wright: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER
Lidle: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER

ARod: his fault

2007: Out of playoffs.

Damon: $13m, .687 OPS
Giambi: 45 total games, injuries, $21m
Abreu: $15m, .757 OPS
Pettitte: $16m, 1.44 WHIP
Farnsworth: 1.60 WHIP, $5.25m
Pavano: worst free agent signing ever except maybe Mo Vaughn

ARod: his fault

Nobody is saying that it is all on A-Rod,

You're kind of saying that.

because it's not, because we know how the Yankees have pitched in October for a long time. There is always a lot of high-priced talent in the room, though the price tag is never his price tag. But it is also fair to say if he had been MVP Alex in, say, Game 6 against the Red Sox in '04, if he had been MVP Alex against the Angels or the Tigers, he might have his World Series ring already.

If Derek Jeter had had more than five singles and a double over seven days against the Red Sox, the same might be true. If if if if if. The guy had a better postseason than Jeter in 2004 -- better in the ALDS, better in the ALCS -- and no one has ever pointed that out, ever, ever, ever.

Reggie Jackson, A-Rod's biggest defender, is fond of saying that it doesn't matter how many games you win during the regular season at Yankee Stadium if you don't win 11 more in October. Only the '04 Yankees got even halfway there. He is going to hit 800 home runs and maybe when he is done there are people who will want to call him the greatest ballplayer of all. But at this point in his career, he has won exactly two playoff series:

First round with the Mariners in 2000.

First round with the Yankees in '04.

What an asshole. ARod, I mean. The guy can't even single-handedly win a postseason series.

People who write about Alex Rodriguez have a pathological inability to separate the man from the team. Jeter hasn't won shit since 2000 either. Mussina and Giambi have been paid just as much as ARod, by the Yankees, and they have won fuck-all. Damon hasn't won anything with the Yankees. Neither has Matsui. Neither has Pavano, or Cano. None of these people is ever -- ever -- held to the same impossible standard as ARod.

I hate the Yankees. And all I do is defend their players against their own media and fans. What is wrong with this picture?

He was up with the Mariners as a teenager when they took a first-round series off the Yankees, but only got to the plate one time. Even he can't count that one.

And now the sarcasm. "Even he can't count that one!" As if ARod is famous for selfishly trying to claim victories or something. Where does this hatred come from?

Since that time, he has made more money than he could ever count.

So has Giambi. And ARod never got dragged in front of a grand jury, developed a mysterious tumor in the part of your body that regulates Human Growth, apologized for...nothing, blabbed in the press, got dragged in front of a commissioner's panel on steroids, missed most of two entire seasons, and -- what's the other thing he did? Oh -- cheat.

...what kind of numbers are his numbers worth to the Yankees? They're a bigger attraction since he got here, just not as big a team.

Enjoy your team without him next year. You all deserve it.

EDIT: in the 30 minutes since I posted this, I have received a few emails -- the first from reader Mr. Faded Glory -- about how Lupica is actually a Mets fan, a fact which I had forgotten when I had my memory of NY sports writers erased "Eternal Sunshine"-style after I left the city in 2004. I am really, however, addressing the world of journalists and critics, when I say, "Enjoy [the] team without ARod. You all deserve it."

If the Yankees payroll were in any way limited, which it is not, one could make an argument that spending x% of it on one player is unwise. If the Yankee team had several other young stars who are projected to get better in the next few years -- which they do not, really, unless you count Cano and Melky, neither of whom is probably going to be in the same league as ARod or even Jeter or maybe even Matsui in his prime -- you could argue to let ARod walk. Absent these things, there is no good argument for getting rid of him. And there is absolutely no good reason to rip him, constantly, all the time, in every paper. The only article you can write about ARod is: where would the Yankees be without him?

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