Reader Brian tips us off to an article by SI.com's Jon Heyman, wherein he polled 14 anonymous front-office types to ask them the classic question: if you were building your franchise around one guy, whom would you choose?
Most of the results are what you'd expect. Reyes, Verlander, ARod, Peavy, Papelbon, Sizemore, etc. Ichiro gets three too-many votes. But the dumbest thing is in the "others receiving votes" category. Because receiving one vote is:
He is an excellent defensive catcher. He also has 17 career HR. A .227 career EqA. And a .296 career OBP.
Hilariously, these other, and much better, players also received one vote: Takashi Saito, Vlad Guerrero, J.J. Putz, Dan Haren, Miguel Cabrera, Mariano Rivera, Prince Fielder, Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, Carlos Beltran, Russell Martin.
Enjoy your franchise, Anonymous Dummy. It will be terrible.
EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that the question was: which five guys would you build the franchise around. Which makes the vote for Molina merely ridiculous, as opposed to borderline-sociopathic.
Also, as Junior mentioned in the comments section, Saito is 37, which makes his vote equally insane. Many of you commented that to take a closer is stupid, though you have to admit it is less stupid if that closer is young (Papelbon) and cost-controlled and you also get four other dudes. Still dumb, but less dumb.
The point here is that this would be my five guys:
1. Papelbon 2. Yadier Molina 3. Michael Cuddyer 4. Jamie Moyer 5. Mike Stanley
So, I have a dominant closer, a young catcher, a Twin, a crafty lefty, and a guy who could teach Molina how to catch.
Never read Woody Paige's column and want to read one sentence that sums up his weird, tortured, strained, quasi-erudite attempts at wit? Okay. George Washington might have been the Father of Our Country, but George Washington Bradley was the Father of Our Country's No-Hitters.
And yes, this is going to be a regular feature from now on.
Many of you have written in to point out that Joey Cora was not exactly an HR threat either. I was of course aware of this. My label is intended to mean: "the incorrect attribution of power-hitting capability to [any] Cora -- and moreover, in this case, not even the correct Cora."
Joe Morgan: The season continues to become more and more interesting every week. The Yankees looked like they were on a roll and now they're struggling again.
Ken Tremendous: ...Oh. You're done. That's what makes this season more and more interesting. Not the NL West race, or the Brewers reclaiming a big lead, or the emergence of like 4 great SS in the NL, or two of the most famous steroid users in history chasing hallowed milestones. It's the Yankees' inability to stay hot.
Matt (Watertown, NY):Where do you put the blame for the fall of the White Sox this year? I'm blaming injuries for our demise.. Erstad, Podsednik, Crede, and Dye have been injured, hurting our offense!
Joe Morgan: A lot of it has to do with injuries, but every team has injuries. Every team. That's not a good enough excuse. I'm not sure of what's going on there, but injuries is not the main problem there. It's contributed to their downfall. All those good players with proven records all of a sudden can't hit. I'm not close enough to the situation to put my finger on the exact cause.
KT: If you are a regular reader of our blog, you would know -- from a post not too far down on this page -- that PECOTA had the ChiSox at 72-90 this year. A computer knew that this was going to happen, Joe. A computer.
The reasons are many and readily evident. Joe Crede came back to earth and got injured. Jermaine Dye is not nearly as good as he looked in 2006. Thome is 36. Konerko is 32 and declining already. Toss in a few pitching woes here and there (their staff is pretty old, too) and you have a disaster on your hands.
Joe's answer -- and here I must remind you once again that he is the number one analyst on the number one baseball network in America (the number one country in terms of baseball generally) -- is: I'm not close enough to the situation to put my finger on the exact cause.
I actually have a Red Phone that goes right to the PECOTA computer. Just...hang one on sec. It's ringing.
Hey PECOTA computer, it's Ken.
Hello Ken. How are you.
Fine, thanks. Quick question -- have you ever met the White Sox players?
And you haven't, like, "gotten close to the situation" this year. Like, you haven't hung out in US Cellular, shooting the shit with front office guys or anything.
No. You just kind of used your "brain" to figure out whether they were going to be good, right?
Okay. Thanks. One more question. How long is my marriage going to last if I spend all of my free time blogging about baseball writing?
Yikes. Okay. Thanks. Brent S. (fjm): Why are the yankees so up and down ths season? also what are your thoughts on the rocket coming in relief?
Joe Morgan: Unfortunately, everything seems to be riding on A-Rod. When he's up they're up, when he's in a lull, they are. The biggest mistake they made was getting rid of Sheffield. He's been the leader on that team offensively the three years that he was there, except the year A-Rod was the MVP. He and A-Rod carried the team. Matsui and Jeter were contributors, but those two carried the team. Now they just have A-Rod. He's played great all year, and he's carried the team to victories. But I'm shocked when I did their game against the Mets three weeks ago and they had won 11 of 12 and looked like they were on a roll. Now they're back to where they started from.
KT: Hey, kids! Here's a game you can play at home. What did Joe leave out in his analysis of the Yankees' struggles? (Here's a hint: there are three aspects of baseball -- hitting, pitching, and fielding.)
Now Ken, you say. Aren't ERAs kind of a coarse way to evaluate pitchers? Yes, you arrogant dicks, they are. That's why I included WHIP as well. But also...many of these guys are relievers. Do you know what it means when a lot of your relievers have high ERAs? It means they are letting a ton of guys on base, and then their reliever buddies are letting them score.
The Yankees have scored the 3rd most runs in all of baseball. Losing Sheffield is not their problem. They have the 16th best team ERA in baseball. That is their problem. They have Wang, and Pettitte (who I swear to you all is going to come back down to earth soon), and that's about it. Proctor is unreliable. Rivera is steadying after a shaky first few weeks, but it's June 26 and he's had eleven save chances. Eleven. That's bad.
What is the point of all of this? The point is: how do you get asked a question about what is wrong with the Yankees and not mention their pitching? Answer: you are a terrible analyst. Zach (Montezuma, IA): What will the Padres get out of Barrett?
Joe Morgan: I had become a big fan of Michael Barrett. I don't know about his defensive deficiencies. I thought he was a pretty good player. I was surprised when they made that deal. I don't believe it had anything to do with the fight, because I think Barrett and Zambrano had shook hands and gotten over it. I'm a Barrett fan, so I think he'll do a good job in San Diego. It's always tough, though, to be shifted in the middle of the season and not know why.
KT: First of all. God. I don't even know what to write as my "first of all."
First of all: do you actually think that the Barrett trade had nothing to do with the fight? Think about this, before you answer, Joe. The catcher for the Cubs got into a fistfight with their best pitcher. Then he was traded. He also has a reputation as being a fight-y kind of dude.
Second of all: the question is: "What will the Padres get out of Barrett?" It takes six sentences before Joe even begins to address the question.
And third: he never really addresses the question.
And speaking of classic: Will (Lexington, KY): the reds have young talent for sure, but can they become contenders with the management they have right now?
Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question. But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question. I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win. I am disappointed in what I've seen so far.
KT: All-time low, right? I think so. All-time low.
Can the Reds become contenders?
That's a very good question.
Thanks, Joe! Wow. That's flattering.
I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question.
But...you are an analyst. You even played for the team.
But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question.
You've written the word "question" an all-time record four times in three sentences. Also: you've been asking yourself the same question, and you still can't answer it?
I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win.
You're not as close as you should be? How close should you be, exactly? You are an objective analyst, right?
Also: you've talked to the owner. And he wants to win. Just so you know, Joe -- if you ever talk to an owner and the owner says he does not want to win, you have a major scoop on your hands. You have the plot of "Major League."
At what point does ESPN finally come to its senses and realize that this man is simply not equipped to be a baseball analyst?
Brent S. (fjm):Are the braves dead?
Joe Morgan: They were only four games out. So you can't say they're dead. KT: End here. You answered the question. Good work. Just stop. Please. No?
That's why baseball is such a great sport - anything can happen in the next three months.
This sentence can be used at any moment for any question. That's how you know it is not a good or insightful piece of commentary.
The Yankees are up and down.
Not even in the same division. Has nothing to do with anything.
The Braves got hot, but then couldn't score a run for three days. So much can happen, so you can't say they're out of the race.
You earlier said you couldn't see them wining the division. Are you talking Wild Card, or... That's what you get with young players - ups and downs.
...Oh. You're just talking clichés. Okay.
Brent S. (fjm): is sammy sosa a hall of famer?
Joe Morgan: Yes. And it shouldn't even be a debate.
KT: Again. I have no problem if you think Sosa, McGwire, et al. should be in the HOF. But to say it shouldn't even be a debate? Come on. It should definitely be a debate.
We have a tendency to want to decide who did steroids without any proof. Yet there are a lot of guys who were doing it and aren't being accused and aren't being suspected.
But there are only a few who have the on-paper qualifications to make it to the HOF, baseball's most hallowed ground. I don't think anyone is going to waste a lot of breath talking about whether Alex Sanchez should like get his MLB pension -- because that is unimportant. But the HOF is the HOF. And you, Joe, of all people, should want to debate this into the ground.
And by the way, everyone: Sammy Sosa did steroids. Innocent until proven guilty, benefit of the doubt, etc. etc. He fucking did steroids, okay? He did something. Here are his full-season HR totals starting in 1990 (skipping partial totals in 91 and 92)
He increased his personal high in HR by 65% in one year. He hit opposite-field, flat-footed homers. Then testing heated up and he suddenly pretended he didn't speak English and started absolutely sucking wind and couldn't hit a beach ball with a tennis racket. He did steroids. So cool it with the holier-than-thou Constitutional arguments. I get it, it's great, I'm very proud of everyone for remembering their 8th grade social studies Bill of Rights class. But come on. We've only taken a few to choose to point fingers at. The one thing that Sammy did was let the fans be a part of his celebration and of his career. I like that.
"Letting Fans Be Part of Celebration" -- not a criterion for HOF induction.
mvp (mvpland): will ken griffey jr. get traded if so what team?
Joe Morgan: Yes, I think they would consider trading him. They had a deal a couple of years ago set, but he turned it down. They have definitely tried to trade him over the last couple of years. But he would have to approve the deal, because he has a no-trade.
KT: What team, please, Joe? No? Not even a guess. Okay.
Shawn Dayton Ohio: What do the indians need to do before the trading deadline to help them make the final push to the world series
Joe Morgan: What I've seen of the Indians is they just need to be more consistent. They have all the pieces, but like everyone else, they need another starting pitcher. But every team is like that.
KT: This is what would happen if you went to Joe's computer and held your finger down on F1:
They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent. They need to be more consistent.
Bob (Brooklyn): What's more important to evaluate a pitcher: Wins or ERA?
Joe Morgan: I've always believed that an ERA is like a batting average.
KT: You're right! They are both crude and sometimes misleading stats that are overused!
It's a personal thing.
For instance, a guy could hit .300, but not be as valuable as a guy that hits .270.
Right again! If the guy who hits .270 walks a lot and hits for power, he is certainly more valuable than a guy who hits .300 with all singles and never walks. Good -- you had me worried with that weird tangential comment about "it's a personal thing."
A guy that makes 7 outs out of 10 with guys on base, he's not that valuable.
Screw you, man. Seriously.
What if the 3 hits are HR? What if they are doubles? Hell, what if they're singles, but with no runners on base he has a .450 OBP and a 1.900 OPS?
Read that sentence again, Joe, and defend it. Defend the idea that if you look at only a hitter's BA with men on base -- and that BA is .300! -- he's not that valuable. Defend that well, and I will shut this blog down and cash in my Fremulon Insurance stock options and move to Ohio and sculpt a statue of me picking your nose and eating it with a huge grin on my face wearing a tee shirt that reads: Joe Morgan Rocks My World.
But if you're clutch, but hit .275, you're more valuable.
So just to reiterate.
If you hit .300 with men on base, you are not valuable.
If you hit .275 but you are "clutch," meaning, presumably, that you hit with men on base, you are valuable.
Notice to all baseball players. If you are hitting .300 with men on base, regardless of what those hits are, and regardless of what you are hitting when there are no men on base, the way to become morevaluable is to lower your BA 25 points, down to that coveted ".275" sweetspot. That's why I think wins are better.
I literally cannot wait to read the rest of this paragraph.
It's just as tough to win a game 7-6 as it is 1-0.
This is not true. If the final score is 1-0, that means that the widest margin for error you have is one run. That seems pressure-packed, to me. If you win 7-6, that might mean you have a 7-0 lead in the first inning. If the bases are loaded with nobody out, your infield can play back and concede a run for an out. You can pitch around good hitters in key situations. You don't have nearly as much pressure, theoretically. Do you ever think about what you are writing before you write it?
The only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many games did we win.
As a team, perhaps. But as an individual stat: no. Do I have to explain why? I will, just in case you, Joe, are reading this, and forgot how baseball works.
Johan Santana this year is 8-6. Jeff Suppan also has 8 wins. Is Jeff Suppan as good as John Santana? No he is not. He is one-point-seven tra-billion times worse. That's mathematically accurate. You can look that up. So why does Suppan have the same number of wins? Because his teammates have scored a lot of runs for him. So he can be a worse pitcher, but still get credited with a "win."
Is this really novel, to you? Is this really not something you have ever thought about? After like 50 years in baseball? Jason (Michigan): Hi Joe. Do you think the Tigers will be able to get some breathing room from the Indians in the central? These teams have been 2 games apart from each other for 2 months and it's clear that the Tigers are the better team all around.
Joe Morgan: I don't know if they'll get any breathing room, but I think they'll win because they're the best team. I think they're the best team and I said that at the beginning of the year.
KT: Wow. You picked last year's World Series rep from the AL, who have a ton of awesome young pitchers and can rake 1-9, to be the best team in the AL Central. Nice work. Pat ((Ontario,CA)): Do you think Russell Martin is one the best catchers in the game?
Joe Morgan: I think that he's definitely established himself as a very good catcher. When you watch him play, he has confidence and I look for that.
KT: Other things that Russell Martin has, besides "confidence," that make him one of the best catchers in the game: an .822 OPS, 13 SB (!), a .77 BB/K ratio, and the 5th highest CS% of all catchers.
But really, I think it's his confidence. Mike, Rockaway Beach: What team(s) do you like to watch during the week when you aren't working the Sunday night games?
Joe Morgan: I'm just like every other fan - I watch every game. I check the box scores and check the stats like everyone else. I'm as interested in the Kansas City Royals as I am the Yankees or Red Sox. I'm a baseball fan. I just like to watch everybody.
KT: Excuse me, for one second. I have to dig through our files. Ah. here we go. Now let me just pull out some quotes here...
I haven't seen enough of him this year It's tough for me to answer that question from afar I don't see how they go about their business on a day-to-day basis I don't know much about their front office and their scouting systems I won't say someone's overrated because I don't see him every day I don't know either of them well enough to make the statements that you made I haven't seen him play first base I just don't know how good the Dodgers are I haven't seen him play much. We've only done one Padre game. I haven't had much of a chance to check him out, but I have heard some good things He was one of my favorite players before he got injured. I haven't seen him play this year to see how strong his arm is. I only saw the highlights I can only go by what Showalter told me, and that is that if they get everyone healthy they will have a good team. It's hard for me to say because I haven't seen the Twins this year. [Can the Tigers keep up the hot streak all season long?] I've only seen highlights so far. I just haven't seen them enough to put my finger on it yet.
So...you're watching a lot of baseball, there, Joe? Kyle (Kansas): What is the most overated stat in baseball?
Joe Morgan: Batting average
and earned run average
and this OPS stuff they do.
"This OPS stuff they do." My favorite thing he has ever written. Ever. This "OPS" "stuff" "they" "do." Joe is officially the Grumpy Old Man character Dana Carvey used to do on SNL.
OPS doesn't tell you anything except about the individual.
...What the hell else are you going to learn from an individual stat? There are team stats too. Do you know that? What does BA tell you? Or HR? Or 2B, or 3B, or OBP, or anything? They are individual stats. If you go to ESPN's stat page, you can click on "player batting" or "team batting." Because they are different. The same as the other stats. It doesn't tell you anything about the team. A .300 average doesn't help you win games, run production does.
Run production. RsBI, then? A stat that is almost entirely dependent on other people? Okay. Julio Lugo has as many RsBi as Grady Sizemore, Bill Hall, and Frank Thomas. He's within one of Placido Polanco and Ian Kinsler. RBI is possibly the dumbest commonplace way to evaluate hitters.
Chad (Austin, TX): Joe, How come you never got into coaching or managing?
Joe Morgan: Well, it's a situation that's never been right for me. There have always been other things going on. It's never been the right situation to pull me in.
KT: Or, possibly, no one was crazy enough to hire you. I honestly don't know.
Greg (Palatine, IL): Do you think Beurhle going to the Red Sox would be a good move for Boston?
KT: Okay, man. The question is about Boston. Would it be a good move for Boston? Would Mark Buehrle be good for Boston? For the Red Sox, if he went to the Red Sox -- would that be good, for the Red Sox, or bad, for the Red Sox? What do you think, Joe, about Mark Buehrle, vis-a-vis the Red Sox, if he went to the Red Sox?
Joe Morgan: I have no idea where he's going, but I do believe he'll be traded because he's a free agent. They're not playing well and they're not catching anybody.
KT: Annnnnnnnnnnnd...we have complete cerebral failure.
Billy (Michigan): Hey Joe, Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?
KT: Easy one. Name three guys from each league who are awesome. I'd say: AL: Magglio, ARod, maybe Vlad or Guillen. Jeter/Posada, maybe. NL: Fielder, Cabrera, Griffey as a dark horse? Reyes? He's fun to watch. Holliday would be interesting. Bonds, of course, though the team is terrible. Utley?
Joe Morgan: I think in the NL it's open, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy come to mind. Jose Reyes. I think several guys have a chance.
Okay. What about the AL?
Oh. You're just not going to answer.
Bill (Chicago): How come their is so much parity these days?
Joe Morgan: That may be the best question I've heard in the last few months.
KT: Really? That seems...pretty straightforward to me.
No one seems to realize what's happened to the game. There are not any great teams any more. That's when you have parity. Every team has weaknesses. When your strengths show, you win 4-5. When your weaknesses who, you lose 4-5. That's why certain teams match up better with certain teams - the strengths and weaknesses matchup.
Does anyone understand this? "That's why certain teams match up better with certain teams - the strengths and weaknesses matchup." Isn't that...isn't that always why certain teams match up better against other teams? This is a new phenomenon?
And as for the argument that there are not any great teams anymore: I'd say the Red Sox are a pretty great team right now. And the Tigers, with their pitching and hitting. The Angels are pretty kick-ass, with the 5th best RS and 8th best RA.
Also, nearly every team in history has had some kind of weakness. So save the "it was better in the old days" stuff.
Fred (Atlanta): Who's the best hitter in the game today?
Joe Morgan: I would have to say Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez, normally.
KT: Manny Ramirez is nowhere close to being the best hitter in the game right now. Nor, technically, is Pujols, though by the end of the year, I'd say each will be closer to that title than they are now. ARod is your answer. Maybe Magglio, though he will probably cool down. Bonds is a candidate, still. Prince Fielder is climbing the ranks. But ARod.
If they were doing what they normally do. A-Rod has more power, and hits for average. A hitter is a guy that just gets hits. On second thought, A-Rod might be the best,
There it is.
because he's the most dangerous at hitting the ball out of the ballpark right now. Obviously, these things are all open for debate considering what you're looking for - power or average. Ideally, you're looking for both.
In other words...you're basically looking for...OPS, if you add in walks? You're looking for OPS. The stat you disparaged for no discernible reason, a while ago. That is now what you are ideally looking for. Explain yourself.
Joe Morgan: Great questions. Looking forward to talking to you next week.
Reggie Willits is having an excellent year. He's absolutely slaughtering his 90th percentile PECOTA projections at the rookie age of 26. It is largely fair to say that his .439 OBP, and not Chone Figgins's .356, is what's making the Angels tick lately.
He is also under six feet tall and white. And he plays for the Angels.
Reggie Willits is flattered by the many and obvious comparisons to David Eckstein, another leadoff hitter whose hustle and heart outweigh his small stature.
Allow me to blanket this entire post -- as well as Helene Elliott's excerpted article, just because I'm generous -- with a Small Sample Size alert. Reggie Willits has had 243 ML at-bats in 91 games. All of his stats are suspect in terms of their predictive powers...especially considering how much better he is doing than those pesky PECOTA computers predicted. However.
I am going to be as nice as I can to David Eckstein by cherry-picking his season high totals in a number of different categories.
Again, small sample blah blah blah, and also he's never played a full season so we have to extend outwards which is always risky, but here are Willits's seasonal averages, with his career numbers stretched out over 162 games. This includes the like 45 AB he has last year over 28 random games, which drag down his overall numbers:
BA: .329 OBP: .434 SLG: .387 BB: 84 2B: 21 HR: 0
Willits is on pace to be far better than that in several categories this year, including 2B and BB. And thus, SLG. To put it another way, Eck's career EqA is .262, or ever-so-slightly above league average. Willits's this year is .326. Willits is on pace for a 7.4 WARP3. Eck's career high was 7.1 -- and Eck was a SS! (Willits plays mostly LF and CF.)
Oh -- and Willits is 18-2 in SB/CS this year.
It's early, but at this moment, it is insulting to compare Willits to Eckstein. (Insulting to Willits, I mean.)
"That's a pretty big compliment. I definitely don't think I am where he's at yet," Willits said of Eckstein, a catalyst in the Angels' 2002 World Series championship and the most valuable player in the St. Louis Cardinals' title run last season.
"He's proven it over several years, and he's done a great job."
He has done a league-average job.
Willits is aggressive on the basepaths, where he has 18 steals and has been caught twice. There are no statistics to measure how often he has pressured an outfielder into making a throwing error or how often he has prolonged an offensive flurry with patience at the plate and sheer grit.
All right! Now we're getting Ecksteiny. "No statistics..." "patience..." "sheer grit...". Makes my heart sing.
I must ask again: why are no minority players ever called "throwbacks" or praised for their "grit" and "hustle" and "old-school"-ness? It is one of the oddest things. No Dominican players, no Afro-Am players, not even the odd Curacaoian. The closest you ever get is Chone Figgins, but I think that's just SoCal reporters missing Eckstein so much they have to lob their "hustle" grenades somewhere, and Figgins isn't that tall, and he's fast...
"Fans are certainly drawn to players for different reasons, and I think it's obvious why they're drawn to Reggie Willits, as they're drawn to David Eckstein or Adam Kennedy," Scioscia said. "I think there's a blue-collar element. He's very well perceived….
Weird ellipsis belongs to Elliott, BTW. Incorrect word choice belongs to Scioscia.
Also: Willits. Eckstein. Kennedy. What do these three have in common? I'm surprised he didn't throw Gary DiSarcina in there for the hell of it.
The Angels just might keep him, even though he's not a second helping of David Eckstein and not the power hitter the other Reggie was. He's Reggie Willits, and that has been more than enough to excite everyone who sees him.
They should be thrilled he's not a second helping of Eckstein. That means he might become a better-than-average baseball player.
Well, there is this article, which ascribes the qualities of big-time heart and hustle to a "minority" (who was born in Hollywood, no less). Interesting is that, in the world of against-the-odds sports journalism, being white might just be the equivalent of having a club foot.
And a mea culpa from me to reader Chris (and all you other Chone Figgins fans) for blasé-ing Figgy's contributions recently. He has been mashing since he came back, with a June OPS over 1.000 and a positively Willitsian .464 OBP.
For the record, I like Chose Figgins a lot. Why then did I denigrate him? To quote Dr. Johnson: "Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance."
Reader Matt reminds me of a post by Junior from March 11 entitled "Computers Don't Have Feelings." The journalist in question, Dave van Dyck, implicitly questioned the PECOTA prediction for the ChiSox, which had them at 72-90.
There's a long way to go yet, but:
Current ExWL prediction for the ChiSox: 69-93.
Current status of PECOTA computer's feelings: Unchanged.
There's an interesting piece at ESPN where their baseball writers weigh in yes/no on Sosa to the HOF. A lot of good arguments. Steve Phillips's is not one of them.
Sammy Sosa is a Hall of Famer. Slam dunk. There is no smoking gun with him. There is just guilt by association. Just because he kept pace with Mark McGwire in home runs in 1998 doesn't mean he should be seen the same way as McGwire. Sosa made a statement in front of the House Committee on Government Reform in which he declared he had never used illegal performance-enhancing substances while McGwire did not.
Okay. Technically true. But Sosa also pretended he didn't speak English and shrank down in his chair and tried to hide in plain sight. It wasn't exactly an inspiring performance.
There are no former teammates pointing fingers at Sosa like there are at McGwire. He has never failed a drug test.
McGwire never tested positive for anything either. In fact, consider that Sosa did get busted for corking a bat during his playing days. Why would a player on steroids cork his bat? He wouldn't.
This is the part that gets me. Why wouldn't a player that cheated in one way also cheat in another way? I mean, if you're going to argue with hypotheticals and hearsay, I think it's perfectly logical that a guy on steroids might also cork his bat -- or vice versa.
When Sammy got caught it was June and he had just 6 HR. And he claimed that it was a bat he used for batting practice. Do a lot of guys use corked bats for bating practice? (Seriously -- I never saw that written about. Do they? It seemed weird.) The whole thing was super fishy, and in my mind marked him as the kind of dude who cheats.
I don't mind people arguing that Sammy should be in the Hall. It's legit. But arguing that he probably never did something illegal by pointing out that he did something else illegal is moronic. If you want to argue "yes," the only things you should hang your hat on are: he hit a buttload of HR, and he never technically tested positive.
From a Jerry Crasnick article about top outfield arms:
Few outfielders play their position with the self-assurance of Francoeur, who brings an aggressive, football mentality to the field each day. That's no surprise, given that he was bound for Clemson as a defensive back when Atlanta offered him $2.2 million to play baseball.
Causality is when something causes something else to happen. For example. The Yankees signed Jason Giambi in 2001, and he caused their offense to be better.
Coincidence is when something happens, and something else happens, too, but not because of the first thing. For example: Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel resigns; Dan Uggla homers to lead Marlins over ChiSox.
Let's see if the New York Times's Jack Curry can tell the difference.
Yankees Get Boost From Loss of Giambi
No. He cannot.
The correct headline should read: "Yankees Get Boost from Many Players Playing Better than They Were; Giambi's Replacement (Damon) and Damon's Replacement (Cabrera) Probably Like 7th Most Important Factor"
...the Yankees have moved on without [Giambi]. In fact, they are playing their best baseball of the season, by far, without him.
Without Giambi, the Yankees are 13-3 and have scored 6.9 runs a game. With Giambi, the Yankees were 22-29 and averaged 5.3 runs.
Interesting. Perhaps there is some causality. Let's find out.
After Giambi went on the disabled list, Torre moved Johnny Damon and his wobbly legs from center field to designated hitter and inserted the energetic Melky Cabrera in center.
June stats for these people:
Damon: .230/.299/.328/.627 in 61 AB. The Energetic Melky Cabrera: .300/.368/.433/.801 in 60 AB.
Season stats for Giambi: .262/.380/.436/.816 in 149 AB.
Damon has hit considerably worse in June than he was hitting before that.
I know Giambi was in a miserable slump right before the DL trip, but it doesn't seem to me that replacing Giambi/Damon with Damon/Cabrera could possibly ever be worth 1.6 extra runs per game. Hmmm. Causality taking a beating here. Could there possibly ever be any other explanation for the Yankees' scoring spree?
Also, Bobby Abreu, Robinson Canó and Hideki Matsui, left-handed hitters who were slumping, have contributed more.
Oh. Well, why didn't you just say that? Why didn't you title this article: Non-Giambi/Cabrera/Damon-related Hitters Hitting Better; Yanks Winning More"?
Since Giambi went on the disabled list, the Yankees’ designated hitters have batted .299, with 3 home runs and 11 runs batted in.
Well, hang on -- if these non-Damon DH's were additions to the team that would not have been possible if he were taking up that position, then there would be causality at work.
While Damon has started 12 of 16 games as the designated hitter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Josh Phelps have also started at D.H.
In other words, the title of this article could also have been: "Guys Who Are Always Playing in the Yankees Line-Up Continue To Play, Sometimes At Different Position; Put Up Good/Typical Numbers in Sample Size of Four Games"
Giambi hit .177 with three homers in May.
His OBP that month in 62 AB was 51 points higher than Damon's is so far in June. Also, Damon has one HR so far in June. Hmm. I wonder if there's any other factor in the Yankees' resurgence?
Of course, the most significant part of the Yankees’ offensive turnaround has been Rodriguez’s incredible June. He is batting .393 with 8 homers and 28 R.B.I. this month.
Ah. So, the guy who plays every day at third, whether or not Jason Giambi is playing DH or DL, is crushing the ball after a mediocre May. And he might have actually had more RsBI if Giambi and his Damon-besting .380 OBP were hitting in front of him. Interesting.
Perhaps the causality vs. coincidence argument will never be answered. But if there's one thing we can conclusively say, it's that the Yankees are definitely scoring more runs because of the insertion of worse hitters in their line-up, and not because the other hitters who have nothing to do with the switch are all hitting better.
Not a great JoeChat this week. And things at Fremulon Ins. Inc. are a little hectic. So I thought I would comment on the questions and Joe's answers simply by rephrasing them, and boiling them down to their essence. To wit:
Buzzmaster: Sorry for the delay folks, we are experiencing some technical problems.
Ken Tremendous: Joe broke and ate his computer.
Eric (Orlando, FL): If you were the Mets manager....what would your lineup be? I would go Reyes, Beltran, Wright, Delgado,Loduca, Green Valentin, and Gomez (until Alou is back).
Joe Morgan: Well a lineup tries to get the most out of the hot batters. So you have to start with Reyes,
Ken Tremendous: Joe's Mets' line-up:
1. Reyes, SS
and I liked LoDuca hitting second when he was doing well,
2. Lo Duca, C (if he's hitting well)
but I think Beltran is a very good choice hitting second. Then you can have Wright or Delgado third depending on who is hitting better.
3. Wright, 3B or Delgado, 1B (depending on who is hitting better)
But they really miss Alou's bat and they need it back.
He really balanced that lineup. I was talking to Willy
5. ???? 6. ????
and he said I can shuffle as much as I want but
7. ???? 8. ????
if my big guys don't hit then there is not much I can do and he is right.
9. Whoever's pitching, presumably.
Todd (Olympia, WA): If Ichiro Suzuki is traded before the deadline, what can Mariner fans expect to get in return for him?
Joe Morgan: I really do not know. But he is not an A-Rod who can change a team right away. he does bring a lot of energy, but I do not know how much people are willing to give for a lead-off hitter. I just do not know how much you can get for that type of hitter.
Todd: What can the Mariners get for Ichiro? Joe Morgan: I really do not know. But I do not know. I just do not know. Todd: (to himself) You didn't answer my question. Joe Morgan: Next!
Matt (Indianapolis): I know you want to talk about the Reds. There is a lot of talk but what do you see them doing before the trade deadline, if anything?
Joe Morgan: I am not sure what they will do. There has been talk about moving Dunnor Griffey. I am not sure what they are going to do, but chnages do need to be made. A lot of their players have just not worked out for them.
Matt: What kinds of trades will the Reds make? Joe Morgan: I am not sure. I've heard a lot of talk about them possibly trading a player with the odd name of Dunnor Griffey. I am not sure. But they should do something. Matt: (to Todd) He did not answer my question. Todd: Tell me about it. Joe Morgan: Next!
Shannon (Martinsburg WV): Joe: Say Girardi doesn't accept the O's job. Who's next in line? Have you ever considered managing?
Joe Morgan: Well if he does not take the job, I have no idea who else they have in mind. I am not sure that is a great situation. And yes, I have thought about it and then I come to my senses. There are good jobs out there for managers, but I am not so sure about the Oriels job at this point.
Shannon: If Joe Girardi doesn't accept the Orioles' coaching job, who will? Have you ever considered managing, Joe? Joe Morgan: No idea. Me me me me thoughts about me me me how do you spell "Orioles" that doesn't look right who cares me me me.
Jack ( Detroit ) : Joe, Do yo usee the Tigers making any moves for Dunn or Bullpen help ? and since Maroth is on the trading block, what is his value around the League ?
Joe Morgan: Well the Tigers will make moves, but I don't think they need Dunn. They need bullpen pitching. I think pitching is what they are going to try and address. And I am not sure about Maroth and his value. I am not convinced he could bring exactly what the Tigers need as far as bullpen help.
Jack: Will the Tigers trade for Adam Dunn for bullpen help? Would other teams be interested in Mike Maroth? Joe Morgan: Maybe. I dunnno. I have no idea who Maroth is. I actually don't even know what team he is on, so I am going to answer in a way that does not betray that lack of knowledge. Paddy (St. Louis, MO): Hey Joe, I've heard some good theories lately on how to improve interleague. Do you have any?
Joe Morgan: Not really. I do not know if you can make it much better, other than cut down on the number of games. There are only a few good fits, such as Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-As, etc. those are the good situations. But I think they play too many games.
Paddy: Hey Joe, do you have any ideas on how to fix interleague play? Joe Morgan: Nope. Paddy: ... Joe Morgan: ... Paddy: Okay. Thanks. Joe Morgan. They play too much. Does that count?
Frank (NY): It seems like Wang is a very underratted pitcher. If you look over the last three years, very few pitchers in baseball match him in terms of numbers. Do you think he is not talked about as one of the greatest pitchers in the game because of the low strikeout ratio?
Joe Morgan: I agree that in this day in age it is about HRs and Ks. But I think we will see more strikeouts with Wang since he has added a slidder to his pitches. The slidder and change are going to help him a lot and driver up his strikeout numbers, and that is what we saw on Sunday.
Frank: What do you think of Wang? Joe Morgan: He has a good slidder. That can't be right. Is that how you spell "slidder?" I guess is it. Slidder. Slidder. That is a weird word, man -- look at it. Slidder. You know what lidders do for pitchers? They driver up their striker-outer number. (Giggles) Man, am I drunk.
Seriously, it's me. Juan P. John Peter. J.P. Non-Ricciardi. The FJM guys like to crack on me, but it's all in good fun. We're actually buds. Junior lent me his Blogger login (blogin?) and password and told me to go nuts, so here I am. The thing is, I think it's fine for people to enjoy watching me run fast on the basepaths and hit a lot of weak infield dribblers. I understand that it's exciting to see a man attempt to steal a base, and so does Junior. You can like my style. Just don't think I'm good. Because I'm not.
Take, for instance, Mr. Tim Brown. Tim writes for Yahoo! Sports and he likes me. That's cool, Tim. Tim also has a persecution complex because he thinks people don't like him because he likes me. I'm here to say it's all right, Tim. It's all right if I'm the "Juan" that you want. (Get it? Grease.) It's okay if you sing the U2 song "One" but replace the word "one" with the word "Juan." It's fine if you like scrappy speedy gritty hustly men. Just don't think they're especially effective, especially if they OBP in the .200s and slug .00014.
LOS ANGELES – Every afternoon it is was as new as it was going to be, this baseball thing, life in L.A., in Dodger Stadium, surrounded by people who believed he's not very good at this.
And every night it was as good as it was going to be, baseball in L.A. at Dodger Stadium, surrounded by people now sure he's not very good at this.
Juan Pierre is not a good leadoff hitter, capable center fielder or wise investment. He's not a winner.
That is what they are sure of.
Tim, the thing is ... when you write an intro like this, usually the implication is that the fans are wrong. But um, they're sort of right. Right now I am not a good leadoff hitter. I'm probably just an okay center fielder. And I'm almost certainly not a wise investment. And I never have been. Again, it's okay if you like watching me run fast. That's still cool. With me?
Yet every team he has played for has made him the leadoff hitter, the center fielder, and paid him plenty of money to do it. When he led off and played center field for the 2003 Florida Marlins, they won a World Series and he was 10th in the MVP vote. That was then.
Right. Well. You're right. 2003 was fun. One of my better years, actually. Proud of that .361 OBP (it's down to .312 this year, whoops!) And hey, 10th in the MVP voting, wow! Even I forgot about that. But Tim, did you know that of the eight regular position players that year, I finished seventh in OPS+? Behind even Juan Encarnacion and Alex Gonzalez? I know this, Tim. Because I was there.
And when I told a scout I still wanted to like Juan Pierre the player, he told me, "Don't."
Which scout was this, Tim? Was it Willie B.? It was Razormouth, wasn't it? Backwards-arm? Ebenezer. Aunt Charlene? Zohlflan. Hephaestus?
Anyway, the point is, all of those scouts agree I am a terrible baseball player. When I told him I couldn't dismiss a player who worked longer, cared more, played harder than all but a handful of others in the league, he said, "Seriously, don't."
Yep, that sounds like Deathkill. Great guy. Great scout.
Apparently, we don't like Juan Pierre anymore. He doesn't hit for power and he doesn't get on base. He takes odd routes in the outfield and, when he and the Dodgers are lucky, covers the mistakes with speed. He throws poorly. He does steal bases and he does hit singles.
Yes! Yes. Great paragraph, Tim. Wow. Phenomenal. If I were a nut, that would be a great shell for me. Kudos.
And, for that, he'll be paid $44 million through 2011.
Ha ha! Sweet. I just bought a Maserati and drove it into the harbor. Hey, a dolphin!
I just bought the dolphin and rode it to shore. I don't care. I like to watch him play. I like him on base, when he is. I like his first seven years after the All-Star break, when he's batted .318, when his on-base percentage is .361. I like a player who runs hard, no matter what, every time.
You hear that? That is exactly the argument for people who like me. Call it the Credo of the Juan Pierre Fan Club. It is this: "I don't care if he's good, bad, or very very bad. I like him anyway." Totally, totally defensible.
It's like saying, hey, I don't care if Allen Iverson shoots 27% next year -- I like how it looks when those 27% of his shots do go in. He's exciting. He's little. He has cool hair.
If you want to like me, or D-Eck, or D-Erst, or whoever, you can! Again, just don't make the argument that we're actually valuable. It's purely aesthetic. Admit it. I don't care who pays him or how much they pay him, not when he's on first, and El Duque can't unravel fast enough to help Paul Lo Duca in the least.
I bet Dodger fans will care in 2011 when I'm just eating up the payroll! (Sorry, Dodger fans!)
He won't apologize for his game, because it's every bit of what he's got. The Dodgers wanted him. Here he is. All of him. Every day.
"I know I have limitations," he says.
That quote is taken OUT OF CONTEXT. The full quote is "I am Juan Pierre and I know I have limitations, including hitting, hitting for power, walking, taking good routes, throwing, getting on base in general, baseball, most racquet sports, softball, T-ball, and Australian rules baseball. I am fast, and if you like me because of that, God bless you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy every seat in the theater for the next showing of Mr. Brooks. I make a lot of money, and I am a big Kevin Costner fan. I am Juan Pierre."
That's all for this edition of PierreBlog. Thanks to Junior for letting me post!
Reader Taka, among others, wrote in about a "Clogging Up the Bases" sighting, on BBTN last night:
On the discussion of Bonds going to an AL team and DHing, Steve Phillips just showed his dismay by describing Bonds as "just like Giambi in that he walks a lot and hits some home runs, but when he's not hitting the home runs he's a baseclogger."
I did not see it. I assume he meant this in the pejorative sense.
If true, congratulations Steve Phillips, you have said the dumbest thing that anyone can say about baseball. Barry Bonds is (in the negative sense) a "baseclogger."
I was listening to ESPN Radio the other day -- SportsBash, I think -- and the first "who should be in the All-Star Game" moron call-in session was happening. Some guy called in to vote against Bonds, because he hasn't hit a HR in a while, and he "just hasn't been that good this year."
Barry Bonds is a bad dude, who used drugs and lied about it and cheated on his taxes and stuff. But he is the 6th-best baseball player all-time, and best active, in terms of not making outs. Which is, and apparently we still have to point this out -- the only real goal of baseball players.
His OBP this year is .487. At the age of like 70. His OBP, career, is .444. He is the all-time leader in walks.
Bonds, Henderson, and Ruth are your top three all-time in walks. Henderson, Bonds, Ruth are 1-2-4 all-time in runs. This is not a coincidence.
Achieved by -- naturally -- Peter King. King's new column contains the ranking of 32 NFL QBs. What formula does he use to measure these QBs, you might ask?
As for how I arrived at my picks, other than with a divining rod, I used a few measuring sticks. I value wins from my quarterback, which helped Manning and Brady, the leaders in victories over the last two years.
I value postseason success; their seven combined wins over the past two years is significant.
Sure. I mean, it's more significant than wins by a pitcher.
Completion percentage and yards-per-attempt are the two passing stats I value the most because they tell you how often a quarterback succeeds in efficiently moving the chains through the air.
This seems good. I might toss in that weird QB Rating thing even though it is impenetrably dense and weird, but COMP% and YPA seems decent. What else?
Intangibles. You made a statistic...out of intangibles. You turned "intangibles" into a tangible.
Brady led all passers with a 10 on a 10-point scale, because he's a coach, an offseason facilitator, a free-agent recruiter -- and he does it while retaining respect from the guys he often has to lean on hard.
And that is worth: 10 intangi-points.
I've been crunching the numbers on some other people and how they rate on King's tangible intangible scale:
Dan Marino: 6.8. Surprisingly low total for an all-time great, but remember: he couldn't win the big one (-1.4); and he had weird curly hair that failed to inspire greatness in teammates (-.8).
Don Mattingly: 8.1. Mattingly gets a boost from winning an MVP at a time when the Yankees weren't very good (+1.2), and wearing the pinstripes with pride (+2.5). He is docked, however, 0.1 for being lefthanded, which is a weird quirk of the King Intangibles Scale.
Phil Spector: 9.5. This one surprised me. Spector gets mad intangipoints for creating a famous production style, the so-called "Wall of Sound" (+3.3). He also gets a boost from having a distinctive aura (+1.1) and being super skinny (+1.7). Also, I naturally assumed he would be docked something for being on trial for murder, but interestingly, that is not the case.
Prince Fielder: 2.0. I thought I'd run the numbers on a young guy just for kicks, and the results were pretty much as I expected. Fielder's youth hurt him. He did get +1.0 for being the son of a relatively famous MLBer, and a +.5 for being fat in a "lovable" way. But he plays for a small-market team (-2.0 in baseball, -0.3 in football, +4.0, weirdly, in hockey) and is left-handed...there's a lot of negatives there.
I received many variations on this e-mail; this is the most succinct version, from John:
McCarver is correct -- if you take him literally. If the Giants put someone out at SS without a glove; or Vizquel went out there without a glove...then the Giants would almost certainly give up 100 more runs a year.
Jose Reyes is, in fact, 8th in the NL in walks so far this season. You have to give Jose a ton of credit. In 2004, in 229 PA, he had 5 walks. Five. In 2007, in 301 PA, he has 36 walks.
That's only 28 fewer than Barry Bonds!
Edit: I think it was Al Leiter saying this on the "my9" network. Leiter's usually not terrible, and he was teammates with Reyes on the Mets in 2003 and 2004. Maybe he's basing this on his memory of the free-swinging kid back then.
Never read Woody Paige's column and want to read one sentence that sums up his weird, tortured, strained, quasi-erudite attempts at wit? Okay.
Englishman Guy Fawkes was stopped during the reign of the original King James, but Frenchman Tony Parker can't be stopped by the latest King James and his court jesters.
I love that to make the tenuous connection between Guy Fawkes and Tony Parker, he (a) cites their countries of origin, as if to say, "They're both European!" and (b) he has to use the catch-all participle "stopped" to represent both being hanged for treason and terrorism, and like driving the lane for an easy two.
Also he throws in "court jesters" as a bonus pun, even though it hurts the King James-King James trope.
Suffice it to say, none of this is relevant to anything else in the article.
at my computer, I might as well chat with Joe. But today, we're going to do something different. I am going to assume the role of Joe's Brain, and try to give you, the readers, some insight into what is going on before he dictates/types his answers. Ready? Let's try it.
Bart (Hartford, CT): With the Yankees starting to show signs of life, do you think they will be able to maintain there play the remainder of the season? If they do will they have a chance to catch the Sox?
Joe's Brain: Oh boy. A toughie right of the bat. Steady, Joe. Think this through. The Yankees are playing better. That means they will win more games. Good. That's good. Good analysis. But will they catch the Red Sox? How am I supposed to answer that? That's impossible to tell, because no one can predict whether the Red Sox will continue to win games. Wait a second -- that's it!!! Whether the Yankees catch the Red Sox...all depends on the Red Sox, and whether they continue to win!!!! Okay. Start typing. Quickly, before you forget.
Joe Morgan: Everything depends on the Sox. If they both play well, the Sox will maintain a big lead. I don't expect the Yankees to maintain a .700 winning percentage the rest of the way, but the Red Sox will still have to play well to maintain their lead.
Joe's Brain: Nice. One for one. Mark (New Jersey): Do you think it was Bobby Abreu's super-slow start that effected the Yankees early on?
Joe's Brain: First of all, who the hell is Bobby Abreu? No one named Bobby Abreu plays for the Yankees. Okay, think. Run down the Yankees' line-up. There's Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Giambi, Sheffield, Louisiana Lightning, Jeter, Paul O'Donovon, Davey Concepcion, me, Jeter, Jeter, Bobby Bonds, Gerald Ford, and Jeter. That's it. Oh boy. Okay...you're going to have to fake your way through this one. Just assume he was some 6-hole hitter or something...maybe he hit between Sheff and Giambi.
Joe Morgan: It affected them because he was right in the middle of their lineup. It wasn't the only reason.
Joe's Brain: Now you've done it, Joe. Now you have to list other reasons they weren't playing well. How are you going to do this when you haven't watched one single game they've played this year? Ugh. All right. Here we go. Fingers, do your thing.
A-Rod was hot, then cold. He wasn't the only reason.
Joe's Brain: You did it again! What is wrong with you? You totally answered the question with that brillliant "ARod was hot, then cold" gambit. Now you need more reasons. Okay. Keep it together. Just keep typing.
There's only one guy on that team that can carry them for weeks at a time, and that's A-Rod. That's why they miss Sheffield and the Giambi of old. They were the only three who could carry the team for a while, and now they only have A-Rod to do that.
Joe's Brain: Nice. That is some good work, there. ARod is always the answer to any Yankee question.
Something Way Back in a Dark Corner of Joe's Brain: Don't they have other good hitters? Isn't Jeter having a good year? And their catcher, whatshisname, Jorge Munson?
Joe's Brain: Shut up. ARod is their best player. He's the reason. Next.
Ryan (Merrick, NY): Do the Mets have to make a trade to hold off the Braves in the NL East with Chipper Jones coming back?
Joe's Brain: This is just gibberish. There's no team called the "Braves." This must be some kind of mistake. This dude was in some chat for Arena Football and accidentally -- oh wait. Yeah. The Braves. Okay. What was the question? Should the Mets make a trade?
Joe Morgan: The Mets have known they've needed help in the rotation for some time now. Let's not give the Braves too much credit; they are playing well following a very bad stretch.
Joe's Brain: You know what just occurred to me for the very first time ever? The key to winning is consistency. Teams have to be consistent. That sounds good. I'm going to write that down.
They haven't proven they'll be consistent, although the Mets have been inconsistent as well. If the Mets do not collapse, I think they'll win. It's similar to the Red Sox/Yankees situation.
Joe's Brain: Let me just look that over one more time..."consistent...inconsistent..if the Mets do not collapse I think they'll win...Red Sox/Yankees." Seems good.
Nick (Cincinnati): Hey Joe, The talk here in Cincy is that the Reds are shopping Adam Dunn. Would it be in their best interest to unload him to an American League squad looking for a power-hitting DH?
Joe's Brain: Cincy. Cincy. Oh -- Cincinnati. The Reds! Big Red Machine. Me. Okay. Got it. Now. Adam Dunn. He's that fellow who always strikes out and isn't as good as Eckstein. Excellent. I have a handle on this one. Should they trade him...? Well, it depends on what they get back. I mean, how can I know if it's a good idea to trade him unless I know what they're getting back? Wait a second...that's brilliant. That shizz is insightful. I'm going to type that.
Joe Morgan: Any time you make a trade, it'll depend on what you get back. That is a hitter's ballpark, and Dunn hits a lot of homers there.
Joe's Brain: Hey. Wait a second. I just had a thought, and it's very interesting and original, and it is definitely the first time anyone has ever thought this. In order to be a good hitter, you have to be consistent. You have to consistently be good. That's awesome. I'm going to type that down now.
He's not a consistent hitter, so it'll depend on what they'll get in return. A trade is not always something to do to get rid of a guy or move a guy.
Joe's Brain: That last sentence might not make any sense.
Joe's Stomach: (growls)
Joe's Brain: Man, I'm hungry. What was I just thinking about? Oh well. Can't be too important. Let's just give this next question a look-see...
Bryan (Boston): Joe - Why do we still have to watch so many of these pointless Interleague Games? Rangers Pirates, Phillies White Sox, Cubs Mariners - Who Cares? Not to mention the schedules are not fair in many cases. Will this ever be addressed?
Joe's Brain: Okay, now this is just someone pulling a prank on me. I'm not falling for this one. "Rangers?" "Pirates?" There are no teams called these things. "Hey, Joe, have you seen the Wingdings play? Hey, Joe, I was watching the Trundlebeds play the Germaphobes yesterday..." Please. Okay -- let's review the teams that exist. The Yankees, the Mets, the White Sox, and the Cubs. And the Reds, and Red Sox. And the Colt 45's, and the Cleveland Spiders. And the Antarctica MoonPirates. That's eight, right? Good. That's all of them.
Joe Morgan: Do you enjoy watching Yankees-Mets? White Sox-Cubs? Many people enjoy those types of series.
Joe's Brain: You should stop typing. You don't have anything else to say.
Joe's Fingers: Watch my dust, brain!
Joe's Brain: Uh oh.
There are a lot of matchups that work because of geographical vicinity. There are a lot that obviously do not work, but the schedule is never fair in any case. Each team doesn't have the same chance of winning because it depends on when you play a team--whether the team you're playing is more cold-weather or warm-weather.
Joe's Brain: What are you even writing?
Joe's Fingers: Who cares? I'm on a roll!
There are a lot of inequalities in the system. It's not fair, but I think it adds a certain amount of interest for fans in one league who get a chance to see players they normally wouldn't.
Joe's Brain: That is actually a good point. But wrap it up.
Joe's Fingers: Will do.
I'm not a big fan, but it does work to a certain extent.
Jon (Phoenix, AZ): Which Pitcher would you rather have this year? Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson?
Joe's Brain: That's a very good question. Maybe I could cop out a little bit by saying it depends on the team I'm on.
Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. I could cop out a little bit by saying it depends on the team I'm on.
Joe's Brain: Dude, I was just thinking! You typed that in and sent it!
Joe's Fingers: Sorry, man.
Joe' Brain: Oh boy. Backpeddle. Backpeddle.
That's one of those almost coin-flip situations. The Yankees needed Roger Clemens more than they would need Randy Johnson.
Joe's Brain: Should I justify that somehow? No. I don't know how. Just plow forward.
Arizona needs Johnson more than they need Clemens.
Joe's Brain: Don't justify that either. Just keep going.
If you're asking which will win the most games from this point on, I would say Johnson has an easier chore than Clemens because he's in the NL, where it's easier to pitch. You can't go wrong picking either one.
Joe's Brain: Whew. Totally pulled that off. Definitely got away with that. Mental note: when someone asks you whether one person is better than the other, just say they're both good. Works every time. I mean, there's no way to actually tell who's better. There's no machine that has like everyone's statistics all compiled and everything.
Joe's Computer: You've got mail!
Joe's Brain: Shut up, you stupid toaster! Patti, (Wash, DC): Hey Joe - first a shout out because you're one of my all time favorites - on the field and in the booth -
Joe's Brain: (releases endorphins; pleasure center goes into overdrive; Joe gets dizzy)
Don't you think it's time for all the naysayers to show the Nationals a little love? They were predicted by most, to be the worst team in history - they're not even the worst team in the National League! Despite two terrible stretches of 1-8 baseball and 4/5 of their starting rotation on the DL the Nats have been playing over 500 ball lately - beating the likes of Smoltz (twice), Peevey, and Santana along the way, they play hard and are competitive - every night ... I think the job that Manny Acta has done with this team is amazing - so how about giving Manny and the Nats a little dap?
Joe's Brain: (slowly regaining cognitive power) The Nationals. The Nationals. Nope. I got nothing. Okay. Fakey fakey time. Let's see if I can pick up any clues in the rest of the question...
(Joe's eyes flicker over the numbers 1-8, 4/5, and 500; optical nerve registers information as: statistics; fight-or-flight instinct kicks in; Joe runs to bathroom and hides under toilet)
(Slowly Joe's heartrate slows to 140 BPM; Joe makes his way back to computer)
Joe's Brain: Oh boy. Oh boy. That was scary. Okay. Just fight your way through this. Say something nice about the "Nationals." Say you like them. Maybe the scary numbers will disappear.
Joe Morgan: Thanks for the compliment, and I feel badly, because I had a note to give a shoutout to the Nats, but we were doing a Yankees game and it got lost. I agree they've done a tremendous job despite expectations. It's my bad for not doing it two weeks ago as I had planned.
Joe's Brain: Please don't hurt me.
Joe Morgan: Excellent questions today. Some of them I couldn't answer immediately.
Joe's Brain: Don't admit that! They'll find out about hiding under the toilet! Ugh. Just wrap it up. Say something awesome and specific and insightful.
I think we'll end up with a lot of great races, and it'll be a fun baseball season, for me and all the fans as well.
Wallace Matthews is my new hero. I haven't been this excited about a journalist since Junior discovered Bruce Jenkins.
In this edition of "Indefensible Positions," Matthews posits that ARod's salary might be better spent on middle relievers. Because...
$25M could buy lots of arms
A-Rod: Stats but no rings
In 1996, the Yankees got four home runs, 54 RBIs and a .308 batting average out of Charlie Boggs, the two-headed monster that held down third base that year.
In 1998, the third baseman's name was Scott Brosius and the numbers were 19, 98 and .300. In 1999, Brosius again: 17, 71, .247. In 2000: 16, 64, .230.
How dare you assail Scott Brosius. That man is a saint!
The Yankees won the World Series in every one of those years and in fact, won 14 World Series games in a row, stretching from Game 3 against the Braves in 1996 through Game 2 against the Mets in 2000.
Do you guys see where this is going? Are you as excited as I am?!
During the previous three seasons, the Yankees' third baseman has averaged 40 home runs and 119 RBIs and batted just about .300. Two seasons back, he won the AL MVP, and this season he has a great chance to put up the best numbers of a career that already is a first-ballot ticket to Cooperstown.
And with him, the Yankees have won precisely nothing.
Cue the band! Release the balloons! Strip down to your underwear, slap some warpaint on your faces, bang your drums and go wilding in the streets -- because Wallace Matthews is arguing that having an all-world 3rd baseman who hits a lot of HR and generally kicks ass is worse for your team than having a terrible third baseman who does none of these things.
It will be worth remembering this at the end of the year when general manager Brian Cashman is faced with the agonizing choice of burning more cash on Alex Rodriguez or bidding him a fond farewell.
No it won't. Because Cashman, unlike you, is not an idiot. Cashman will want to keep the 31 year-old surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer who is going to hit 70 HR this year despite the fact that he -- ARod -- is a weirdo and everyone hates him and there is an organized media movement -- of which you, Wallace Matthews, are a key player -- to drive him out of New York by arguing that Scott Brosius was better for the Yankees than he is.
There is nothing agonizing about deciding whether to keep Alex Rodriguez. If he isn't sick of NY, and wants to stay, you keep him. Because he's awesome. And because -- and this is the first of several times I will point this out, the Texas Rangers are paying you $7 million a year to help you keep him, because Tom Hicks is a bigger idiot than you, Wallace Matthews.
I am going to repeat that.
The Yankees, who have a $200m payroll, are being paid $7 million a year to help them retain Alex Rodriguez's services. And you still think this is a difficult decision?
To lose A-Rod would do me no good at all - who on Earth would I write about when the Yankees are slogging through some meaningless August tilt with the Devil Rays - but it might be the best thing the Yankees can do to right a ship that be sinkin', slowly, for the past seven years.
Honesty in journalism, here, folks. Who indeed would hacks like Matthews write about, were ARod gone? Who could allow them to drag out their tired old columns about the glory days of Scott Brosius? God forbid Matthews would have to work hard and form new opinions about things. That simply won't do. He needs ARod around, yelling things at rookies on the Blue Jays and saying slightly-off things in interviews about therapy so Matthews can put down his giant tumbler of Old Grandad, head to his file cabinet, blow dust off the A-D drawer, dig through his Brosius file, pull out a winner from 1998 that reads, "Yanks' 3rd Baseman About More than Stats," and do an old-fashioned cut-and-paste job. Then: more whiskey!
You can argue successfully that without Rodriguez, the Yankees would be even worse off than they are right now.
You also can point out that without the burden of his salary, they can start shopping to fill the real needs of this team.
Incorrect. They have no limit to their salary. None. They said last year that they had a limit, and then they traded a pile of old hoodies for Bobby Abreu, who cost $13 million last year and $15m this year. Actually, let's just go ahead and list the most expensive Yankees this year:
Jason Giambi: $21m Derek Jeter: $20m Roger Clemens: $18.5m (ish) Alex Rodriguez: $17m (ish) Andy Pettitte: $16m Bobby Abreu: $15m Johnny Damon: $13m Hideki Matsui: $13m Jorge Posada: $12m Mike Mussina: $11m Mariano: $10.5m Carl Pavano: $10m
Are you seriously telling me that of these guys, ARod is the one not earning his pay? That his money is less well-spent than that spent on Giambi? Pavano? Matsui? Abreu? Mussina?
The question of whether he will opt out of his contract isn't even worth discussing. Originally, [the opt-out clause] was included to provide Rangers owner Tom Hicks with an ejector seat to escape from what remains the richest contract in the history of sports. Now it serves as a way for A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras, to further cash in on what so far has been a phenomenal season...
To think Rodriguez and Boras won't invoke it at the end of this season, no matter what its outcome, is to believe that Donald Trump will wake up tomorrow and say to the latest Mrs. Trump, "Honey, I'm loving you so much, I'm gonna forget all about that pre-nup."
Ain't gonna happen.
Yikes. Leave the comedy to the professionals, Wallace. Stick to Brosiusian Hagiography.
...When the time comes to say deal or no deal, the Yankees would be wise to remember the lessons of 1996 and 1998 and 1999 and 2000. Those championships weren't won by slugging third basemen, or designated hitters built like Schwarzenegger, or prima donna starting pitchers who show up when the season is half over.
Here it comes...the moneyshot...
Those teams were built on small ball - incredibly, Bernie Williams' 30 homers in 2000 represents the peak of Yankees power for that era - on timely hitting, on role players who worked together like the cast of "The Sopranos," and on pitching.
Mostly, on relief pitching.
Okay. Everybody take a deep breath. We're going to get through this together.
First: Tino Martinez had 44 HR in 1997. Second: The 1998 Yankees had all nine starters and one reserve (Shane Spencer) in double-digits in HR. They hit 207 HR that year, which was fourth in the league. In 2000 they were 6th in the league. They were not a huge power team, but they hit their share of HR. Third: 2, 1, 1, 2, 5. Those are the AL ranks of the Yankees' teams in OBP, 1996 to 2000. That's what those teams were always based on, offensively. They walked a lot and grinded out at-bats and wore people down. Fourth: 1, 2, 4, 3, 4. Those were their yearly league ranks in K's by their pitchers. Their starters were very good, 1-5, all of those years, in striking out people and not walking people. Their relievers were good, except Mariano, who was impenetrably brilliant.
The Yankees did not win those championships with "smallball" or "smartball" or "intelli-ball" or "think-ball" or "genius-ball' or "Torre-ball" or "How'd-they-do-that?-ball." They won with great starting pitchers (Cone, Clemens, Pettitte, Wells, Key, Hernandez), a 9-man line-up that grinded out long at-bats and walked a lot and hit for good power, and the greatest closer in the history of baseball.
And these days, more than ever, that is where Yankees games are won and lost. In fact, throughout baseball, that is where most games are won and lost, with starters going six innings and managers jumping for the bullpen phone when the pitch clicker nears 100. For all the brilliance of Mariano Rivera, it is the grunts, the middle relievers, the Sean Henns and Brian Bruneys and Scott Proctors and Kyle Farnsworths, who have become the most important pitchers on the Yankees' staff. Too often this year, they have been much too important and not nearly good enough.
Yes, the problem with the 2007 Yankees so far was been Brian Bruney and his 28 IP with 25 K's, and Scott Proctor's 32.2 IP with a 1.30 WHIP. Not Kei Igawa's 30.2 IP with a 1.60 WHIP, or Carl Pavano disappearing, or Mike Mussina's 5.63 ERA, or having to rush Tyler Clippard up to start games, or having Darrell Rasner and Matt DeSalvo start 11 games, or Hughes' hamstring. I think it's Bruney.
The Yankees' relievers stink. But their starters haven't even been able to start. Except Pettitte and Wang, it's been Russian Roulette out there. (And by the way, I'd like to see Pettitte duplicate his first half while still striking out fewer than 5/9IP. Watching him revert to the mean is going to be very enjoyable for me.)
Anyway, the point is, I think the Yankees should let ARod walk and spend the money on middle relievers. What do you think, Wallace?
Saying goodbye to Rodriguez would be a gutsy and risky move, because he is one of the few players about whom it can be said there truly is no other. But they have done without his likes before and they can do it again.
And surely for every Rodriguez, there are dozens of Mike Stantons and Jeff Nelsons and David Weatherses out there. What the Yankees need to do now is take the money they will save on A-Rod and go find them.
Oh good. You agree with my crazy joke stance.
Read that last paragraph again. Then consider that at the bottom of this article, Newsday saw fit to print this:
If A-Rod keeps up his current pace, these are his projected numbers for 162 games:
Hits 186 Runs 149 HRs 64 RBIs 167
as if to chastise Matthews themselves. Consider for a second, again, that the Yankees are being subsidized by Tom Hicks to the tune of $7m a year so that ARod can put up those numbers in the Stadium. Consider that Wallace Matthews thinks they should use the money on 6th inning set-up guys and 37 year-olds with WHIPs in the 1.50 range. Consider also that the Yankees do not need to free up any money to sign anyone, much less a reliever or two who cost like $2m a year. Consider that Alex Rodriguez's EqA is .354. Consider all of that, and then read this article again, and try to figure out why this article ever got written. And then consider why a mild-mannered claims adjuster for a mid-level insurance company would spend his entire morning dissecting it for a meta-critical blog that only he and a few of his stupid friends really care about.