Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007



It's not one of his best. But it's a JoeChat.

Joe Morgan:
I was in Cincinnati on Saturday for Davey Concepcion's retired number ceremony, and other memebers of the Big Red Machine were there, and it was a great event. And Davey deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Ken Tremendous: Huh.

OPS+: 88
EqA+: .256
WARP3: 108.4

And that WARP was basically all fielding. So if you believe he should be in the Hall, it's as a fielding SS. And Ozzie Smith's WARP3 was 138.5. And Ozzie's EqA was .263.

Zack (Ohio):
Joe, you've always been a fan of great starting pitching. How does the combo of CC, Carmona, and Westbrook match up come playoff time?

KT: I like the implication that: thinking starting pitching is important might be unique to Joe among baseball analysts. You know what I think is important in sprinting? Leg muscles.

Joe Morgan: Well they matchup well, but they need to make the playoffs first. But any team would hate to face them in a short series. That is one of the top starting rotations. In a short series those three guys would be hard to beat.

KT: With whom are they matching up? Sabathia has given up 17 runs in 25 IP against Detroit this year. Carmona got knocked around a bit by New York. Boston and New York both handled Westbrook pretty easily. Now, these are all small sample sizes, but you can't just say that someone "matches up" well without his matching-up partner. Or can you?!?!? No, you can't.

Andy (Tampa): Albert Pujols has been red hot lately. If the Cardinals do win the division could he make a late push for MVP?

Joe Morgan:
Yes, because he is the reason that they were able to stay in the race all year long.

KT: They are 64-64. The only reason they could stay in the race all year long is that their division is horrifyingly bad. And for the record, they were not "in the race all year." The Brewers were destroying them, and have fallen back to the pack.

Without his bat they would have fallen out of the race, and he has been the leader of this comeback.

They did fall out of the race. Then everyone else fell too, drawing them back into the race passively. It's hilarious to me that the "MVPs should come from winning teams!" boneheadedness could give Albert the MVP for being on a team that plays basically .500, and not like Magglio if the Tigers go 92-70 and miss the playoffs by a game.

Brent Seaborn (New York, NY):
Hi Joe! What should the Yankees do about Mike Mussina? Do you think he's finished?

Joe Morgan: I was surprised that they gave him a three years extension;

KT: Two.

he had not perfomred down the stretch these past few years.

KT: Mike Mussina, September stats, 2004-2006

6-3, 2.78 ERA, .245 BAA. 71/14 K/BB ratio in 77 innings.

It is a very hard to tell when a guy is finished, especially coming from the outside. I cannot say that he is finished, but I was shocked that they gave him a three year contract,


and I do not think he can be a dominant pitcher anymore. But he can still win games, and that is what they are counting on.

KT: Actually, it seems that he cannot win games, and that that is what they are counting on, by promoting Ian Kennedy. So other than everything in your entire answer, you are right on the money.

Jack (Rancho Cucamonga, CA): Now that the always consistent Gary Sheffield is on the DL, do the Tigers -- even if they play the game the right way -- have a chance to make the playoffs? Or is it too early to tell?

Joe Morgan:
Well he will be gone for two weeks I guess, but if he can comeback, they are as good as any team in the league. But without him, they drop down to fourth or fifth in the league.

KT: We have documented before how much Joe has a crush on Gary Sheffield, but this is insane. This is Charles Foster Kane trying to make Susan Alexander an opera star. Gary Sheffield has an .878 OPS in 114 games this year. That is good for fourth on his own team, behind Magglio (your AL MVP or -Runner-Up), Granderson, and Guillen. Polanco is right behind.

So, you are telling me, that with Gary Sheffield, the Tigers are essentially the best team in baseball, but without him, they are fourth- or fifth-best. Not Justin Verlander. Not Magglio. Sheffield, and his 6.5 WARP3, is the difference between being the best team and the fifth-best. Not Granderson, and his 11.6 WARP3. Not Placido, and his 9.4 WARP3. It's Sheff.

Sheff is an excellent hitter. But saying he makes the fifth-best team become the best team is like saying that Baskin Robbins would be nothing without Gold Medal Ribbon.

The problem is not only missing Sheffield but their pitching has not pitched to their capabilities.

Ah. So it's not just Sheffield. Thanks for clarifying. You should go back and edit that silly part where you talked about how Sheffield-- oops. You're moving on.

Todd (Philly):
If you could compare Dave Concepcion's playing style to a current player, who would that be?

KT: Enough. For God's sake, the guy retired years ago. He was an excellent defensive SS. Why do we spend so much time on this?

Joe Morgan:
The difference is that if Davey played today, he would have an easier time hitting home runs, so his numbers would be better and he was a great defensive short stop.

KT: Everyone would "have an easier time hitting HR" today, theoretically. The guy's OPS+ was 88. Relative to his peers, he was a sub-par offensive player. If he were playing now, relative to his peers, he would be a sub-par offensive player. He has like 101 career HR. Do you think he'd have been Cal Ripken if he played from '82-'02 or something?

So it is very hard to tell, he has a bit of Tejada (of course Tejada hits more, but like I said that may be a product of the era in which he plays) and Jeter in him,

No. Sorry. No. There was no Miguel Tejada in Davey Concepcion. Tejada has had 8 straight years of OPS+ over 112. Davey's career high was 116. Tejada's career slugging % is 120 points higher. And Jeter is even better, in this regard -- 12 straight over 100, 10 straight over 113, touching 160. This is not a product of the era in which these men play, except that they are stronger and better hitters.

but he was better defensively than either one.

True. Triply true in re: Jeter.

And that's what makes him a HOF, is that he is different from everyone else.

"Different?" That's a HOF criterion? This guy was a sometime-catcher who was left-handed. Maybe he should be in.

Make no mistake about it, players like Bench and Concepcion's numbers would be much better in these small parks and with the livelier balls.

Possibly. So how 'bout we just judge them relative to their peers? Oh -- already did. Bench: in. Davey: out. Great, but out.

(Side note: if anyone out there wants to bash McGwire for being one-dimensional, please don't support Concepcion. It will be embarrassing for everyone. Thank you for your time.)

Matt: Do you think the Tigers have a good shot to make the postseason with getting pitching back and starting to hit better than before? They are only back 2.5 games of Cleveland in the Central and soon to be 3 back of the Mariners in the Wild Card after tonight. They still have a series against the Mariners on Sep. 7-9. Will they catch and/or pass the Mariners to make win the Wild Card?

KT: This is a lot of specific information, which begs a specific argument for or against a specific team's chances to accomplish a specific goal. I smell trouble.

Joe Morgan: Well I think everyone has a chance right now, with the Wild Card. We are in a situation where there are a lot of teams that have a chance. Just look at what the Cardinals did last season. They almost did not make the playoffs, and yet they won the World Series, so if a team gets hot at the right moment anything can happen.

KT: No mention of: the Tigers' pitching, the Tigers' hitting, the Tigers' deficit in the Central, the Tigers' deficit in the WC, the Tigers' chances against the WC leaders, the Mariners, or the Tigers. A clean sweep. Of vagueness.

Otto (CA): Joe, do you think the A's will ever get some guys that know how to manufacture runs by advancing the baserunner, bunting and stealing a base or two? It's frustrating watching this team as it is dead last in the AL West in runs.

KT: Buckle up. Joe + A's Questions usually = yikes.

Joe Morgan: Well they are built on walking and hitting home runs, and they have not been doing that a lot this year. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs.

A. This is old information. They are actually built on pitching and (to a certain extent) defense. They have been in the top 4 in ERA each of the last 4 years. I fear you are sort of discussing Moneyball, when we all know you haven't read, nor do you understand, nor do you want to understand, nor do you know who wrote, Moneyball.

B. Let's just also give that 2-step comment another looksee real quick. "Well they are built on walking and hitting home runs, and they have not been doing that a lot this year. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs." Does that make sense to you? They are built on walks and home runs. That is their philosophy, as far as walks and home runs. Is that American English?

During the regular season there are so many weak pitching staffs that you can at times get away with looking for walks and trying to hit home runs, but once you enter the playoffs that is not the case.

This argument, the most oft-heard anti-"Moneyball" argument, is goofy. (I put quotes around "Moneyball" because it is not the case that Moneyball is about how teams should walk more and hit HR. It is about finding undervalued skills in the competitive marketplace of baseball team roster management and using them to compete against teams with higher payrolls, and at the time it was written, the A's happened to feel that OBP was undervalued, so they were adding guys like Scott Hatteberg whose primary skill was plate discipline. &c.)

Perhaps you do not walk as much in a short series against a better pitching staff, and perhaps you might not hit as many HR in a short series against a better pitching staff than is league-average. But building your teams around guys who walk a lot and have power (as opposed, theoretically, to players who don't walk a lot and have speed, or something) doesn't mean you are going into the playoffs hoping to just draw walks. It means that you have hired players with good plate discipline who can take pitches and be patient and wear down those good starting pitchers in order to knock them out of games earlier. The 2005 ChiSox buzzed through the Angels (.325 team OBP) and the Astros (.322 team OBP) with every ChiSox pitcher seemingly throwing complete games, in large part because those two teams are notoriously impatient at the plate. (They also buzzed the Red Sox in the ALDS, thanks to decent pitching, but also to 14 runs off Matt Clement and a bunch of scrubs in Game 1 and the resultant momentum.)

Anyway, it's just extremely short-sighted to say that teams that walk a lot and hit HR are "in trouble" in the playoffs -- for many reasons. Like that it neglects to mention what the pitchers are like. And it assumes that the only way for these teams to score is to draw walks with the bases loaded or something.

Am I still typing? Why? He can't hear me.

That is why they have struggled in the post season. They may win the division with that philosophy, form time to time, but they will never win a World Series like that.

A ridiculous statement. Insane. Ignorant. The 2006 Cardinals won the World Series with no hitting and no pitching, and 83 regular season wins. If they can do it, any team can do it, in any season, with any level of talent. In a short series, the Royals can beat the Yankees in four straight. The DRays can smother the Mets. The U.S. hockey team can beat the Russians. Jay Mohr can be funnier than Jerry Seinfeld. Anything can happen. Except Mohr over Seinfeld.

Mitch (Hartford, CT):
Glad to hear you're a Concepcion HOF supporter Joe.

KT: I said: enough!!!

How do you see the NL Central shaping up?

Joe Morgan: Like everyone else, I have no idea who will win. it is unbeleivable that the Brewers after playing so well are now playing so poorly...

KT: It is? It's "unbelievable?" That has never happened before? A team has never gotten off to a hot start and then faded when the laws of their averages have caught up to them?

Jim (MA): Joe, it doesn't look like any team will win 100 games this season (maybe the Red Sox), do you think that is good for baseball?

Joe Morgan:
Well it depends on how you look at it. We have parity now, and some people think that is mediocrity.

KT: "Some people" = you. Sack up and own it.

You always want a star team to lead the pack, because that makes other teams raise their play.

Or, it leads to boring dynasties that cause fans of smaller market teams to lose interest in the sport.

I think there are so many teams now that are just average. Good teams have consistency and you are just not seeing that this much this year, just look at the Yankees.

I guess it was too much to ask to get through an entire chat without Joe using the word "consistency."

Liz (Miami): Hi Joe, I've been a Marlins fan since their inauguration, I was wondering if you had an opinion on the way this organization has been run, both currently and in the past. Thanks.

KT: Dear Liz:

No, he does not have such an opinion. He knows nothing about the Marlins.



Joe Morgan: In the past they went out to win and they did and then they would dismantle the team. Now they are trying to build a lasting foundation. I actually think they are pretty good. I have not seen too much of them, but I think they have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, I talked to Tony Perez about it this weekend. Tony thought they had some good players are taking the right approach and I agree with him.

Dear Liz:

Told you.

Love, KT.

Russ (Vancouver): Is seattle legit? I can't say that the rotation (behind felix) scares me much. Washburn, Batista, Weaver? Will that be enough to make the playoffs?

KT: Dear Russ,

He doesn't know anything about the Mariners either. He is going to make a lot of vague gestures towards the idea of pitching and then bail. Just warning you.



Joe Morgan: Well we are back to the same point of, who does have a great roatation? If all the rotations are equal then we have to look at trhe offense. Is their offense good enough to win? And I think it is.

Dear Russ,

I hate to be "this guy," but I told you so.



P.S. "All the rotations" in baseball are "equal?" Really?

Joe Morgan:
As I have tried to point out, starting pitching is stil the most important part of pitching,

KT: Why don't people understand that starting pitching is the most important pitching? Here -- here's another way to put it that you might understand. You know "The Bourne Ultimatum?" Okay, well, "The Bourne Ultimatum" was the best part of "The Bourne Ultimatum." Now do you get it?

it's what wins you games down the stretch. Just look at the next 30 games, and it will be starting pitching that will be the key to getting teams into the playoffs.

Brilliant. Incisive. Whimsical, but not irritating. Imaginative. Unique. Joe.

Labels: , ,

posted by Anonymous  # 9:48 PM
1. I would like to add to the following

They also buzzed the Red Sox in the ALDS, thanks to decent pitching, but also to 14 runs off Matt Clement and a bunch of scrubs in Game 1 and the resultant momentum.

the words "to the extent to which you believe in that sort of thing, which I'm not sure that in the case of you, Ken Tremendous, is very much."

2. It appears that Jack from Rancho Cucamonga ("Now that the always consistent Gary Sheffield is on the DL, do the Tigers -- even if they play the game the right way -- have a chance to make the playoffs? Or is it too early to tell?") is something of a Joe baiter, what with his mentions of

a) Sheffield
b) the word "consistent"
c) "play the game the right way"

and the way he gives Joe an out to ride the fence.

3. HatGuy sez: Sweet Gold Medal Ribbon ref! Get it? "Sweet"!
I believe in actual momentum; that is: in a short series, scoring 14 runs in Game One forced the BoSox to blow a bunch of bullpen innings early, which was rough because they had only a couple of 68 year-olds (Wells and Wake) to throw in 2 and 3.

Take that, smartass.
I believe this post qualifies for "food metaphors" label status, no?
KT: good explanation. Satisfying. Would still rather call that "bullpen exhaustion" instead of "momentum," only because momentum gets thrown around so much in sports as an intangible, spectral thing.

Also, Lieberman fans, remember Joementum?
I believe it was Sixto Lezcano who said, "Momentum is only as good as your next day's most important part of pitching."
A Chester Jesterton sighting! I am honored.

Reader Robert writes in with a sentient echoed by many like-minded individuals:

Here’s the thing that annoyed me most about this week’s chat: Morgan has spent years deflecting any question about someone’s chances of election to the Hall by saying that as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Hall of Fame, he shouldn’t comment on whether he thinks someone should be in or not. (Examples: 7/14/07 JoeChat, 4/19/06 JoeChat.) And yet here he is, actively stumping for Dave Concepcion – naturally, a friend and former teammate – to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s not that I’m surprised – Joe apparently thinks everyone on the Big Red Machine should be in the Hall, up to and including Ed Armbrister – but wow. Just when you thought this guy couldn’t sink any lower.
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