Go here. Scroll down, and look at what the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system predicted would be the final standings for this season in MLB. (Look also what Nate Silver's personal system predicted -- it's just to the right of the final PECOTA predictions.)
Then send the PECOTA computer a nice email and tell it how smart it is, and that you celebrate it, because it has a very fragile ego, the computer does, and it needs a lot of praise.
It's not perfect. But then again, nothing is, and this is pretty damn good. For a computer.
(Note: BP is a subscription site, so the link will not work if you're not a member. We have no affiliation at all with BP, but I do recommend joining. It's really fun to look at what PECOTA predicts for various players.)
Several of you sent in this bizarro-world pearl of wisdom from my close friend Tim McCarver during today's Fox broadcast:
"We had our friends at Stats, Inc. check and see whether more multi-run innings came with a lead off homer or a lead off walk. You would think that a lead off walk would lead to more big innings than a lead off home run. Not true. A lead off home run, this year, has lead to more multi-run innings than lead off walks. It's against conventional thinking."
It's against conventional thinking. Really.
In my mind, conventional thinking on this subject goes like this: if the first hitter in the inning scores one run all by himself, it's more likely that his team will score two+ runs that inning than if he does not. Because in that situation, in order to achieve a multiple-run inning, the team has only to score one additional run. Instead of two runs. See how that works?
McCarver has been obsessed with this subject before. Do a search for him on this very blog, and you will find some real gems.
I like to imagine the guy at Stats, Inc. who had to field that call.
McCarver: So, basically, we want to know which situation leads to more multiple-run innings. A lead-off home run, or a lead-off walk.
Chet, Over at Scouts Inc.: ...Who is this?
McCarver: Timothy Chadwick McCarver, sir, at your service.
Chet: And you want to know whether a team is more likely to score two runs in an inning --
Chet: -- if the lead-off guy homers, as opposed to walking?
Chet: It's if he homers.
McCarver: How did you research that so fast? I didn't even hear typing.
Chet: Okay. Hang on. (Sound of obviously fast and nonsensical typing for two seconds) Yup, there it is. It's if he homers.
McCarver: I'll be the son of a monkey's uncle! That goes against conventional thinking!
Chet: I don't think you know what those words mean.
It's almost October, people. Soon, we'll get all McCarver, all the time. Buckle up.
"So much for wearing these clothes home," Francona cracked, the beer-and-champagne mix dripping down his bald head, into his eyes, past his chin, and onto the red underclothes that he still wore.
But that was nothing compared to the double dose of champagne Theo Epstein took from Schilling and Papelbon, an explosion of the sticky liquid sending him shooting across the clubhouse floor, with Schilling whispering a warning to reporters standing close to watch out.
Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News just wrote an article riddled with ludicrous assumptions and just plain shoddy research. It's called:
Inexperience has its cost for Rockies
I forgive Dave, though, because without doing any fact-checking or investigative action I'm going to assume he's a rookie writer fresh off the turnip truck from journalism school. I will also willfully ignore his headshot.
The kid Rocks that stayed for the postmortem insisted it didn't affect them. The packed house, the playoff atmosphere, the biggest game any of them had played in a Colorado uniform.
The Rockies just got beaten by likely Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb, 4-2. After winning 11 straight. Those choking kids!
It's possible, I guess. Psychoanalysis from the press box is worth less than it costs, which in this case is 75 cents.
At least Krieger, who is 11 years old, admits this much. This article was originally submitted to the Victoria Elementary Wildcat News. (These are guesses based on the text.) Still, there were Rocks at-bats Friday night that did not resemble the confident plate appearances of their magic September carpet ride:
• Troy Tulowitzki striking out on a pitch in his eyes, looking for all the world like he was trying to hit the ball to Montana.
"Chased a pitch I probably shouldn't have swung at, but he was tough," Tulowitzki said of Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb.
Webb has never struck out anyone with big-game experience. It's a tragic flaw in his game.
• Todd Helton coming up with Matt Holliday in scoring position in the eighth, one out, and rolling the ball to the pitcher on a first-pitch check swing.
Todd Helton! What a naif! This diaper dandy just learned to put on his own baseball pants! Inexperience has its cost, Helton. Wait a decade or two -- your time will come, kid.
• Yorvit Torrealba sacrificing a runner to third with one out in the seventh, down two runs, and Cory Sullivan striking out when all he needed to do was put the ball in play.
I mean, these guys are just bad. Okay, Cory Sullivan isn't terrible, I guess. Mediocre.
The fact is the Rocks have not been here before and experience matters in baseball's big games. As an organization, the Diamondbacks have played many more big games than the Rocks.
Yes, these D-backs sure are experienced. What with dueling aces Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson leading them to the promised land, Luis Gonzalez galvanizing the clubhouse, manager Bob Brenly at the helm, to say nothing of grizzled vets Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Steve Finley and Jay Bell grounding the team with years of wisdom ...
Wait. Oh, shit. Wait. I'm looking at the box score from last night. It's 2007. Fuck. Oh my god. These guys are like babies. They're like zygotes and shit.
The 2007 Diamondbacks are notorious for how young and inexperienced they are. Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Conor Jackson ... these guys are rookies or damn near it. Justin Upton is 20 years old -- he couldn't drink the champagne at the division-clinching celebration!
This is the best part. Hey Dave Krieger, Mr. "As an organization, the Diamondbacks have played many more big games than the Rockies," you know how many postseason games the individual Diamondbacks who played Friday night have experienced?
Six. They were played by Tony Clark, who had one pinch hit at bat last night. He made an out despite his big game experience.
** EDIT ** Nope. The answer is 15. Six by Tony Clark, nine, in fact, by Eric Byrnes. Fire me! ** END EDIT **
Exactly zero of the other players besides Clark and Byrnes -- Webby, Jeff Cirillo, Augie Ojeda, crazy Jose Valverde -- have played in the playoffs.
But "as an organization" -- shut up! You think putting on the magical snake uniform (which is different from the ones in 2001, by the way) transfers big game experience through your skin by osmosis or something?
Justin Upton was born in 1987!!!
Meanwhile, Todd Helton has played in 1575 games. 5653 major league at bats. This guy knows how to fucking play baseball, no matter what the situation. He's amazing. Even though he's lost a lot of power, he OBPed .431 this year. You're saying because he hasn't been swept in a divisional series before he suddenly forgets know how to hit the baseball on September 28th?
Well, chalk it up to a green writer writing his first article about anything, ever. Give Krieger a few more years. He's only five years old. He just learned what letters are. Frankly, it's astounding that he put together this little piece full of ridiculous speculation. I look forward to your future output, little Davey. Maybe by 2029, you'll be able to generate a coherent sports column.
I know it's like deliberately goofy and stuff, but I just love the title of this gem by Bryan Burwell, published 2 days ago over at MSNBC.
A little more than a year ago, the [Cardinals] were on an unconscious roll toward an unlikely World Series title and this ballpark was alive with championship noises.
No. A little over a year ago, the Cards were finishing up a shitty 12-16 September and limping into the playoffs.
Down in Miami, the first-place (NL Central) Cubs are battling all sorts of ghosts, curses and have been swept by the suddenly feisty Marlins, and because they are the Cubs, we are almost positive that some cruel and unusual punishment will befall Cubdom once again. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but over the next three days, the sky will fall and there will be a darned little blue bear smashed on the pavement.
Cubs won tonight, 6-0. 2.5 game lead with two to play as I type this.
This is why sports are fun. This is why the wild card is one thing Bud Selig got right. I love the wild card. I love the idea that seven teams cannot fit into four NL slots. I love that it’s a mad scramble and it’s impossible to tell how it will all end.
Except that you "know" that the Cubs will collapse, because they are the victims of a curse.
Twice a day — maybe more — Lou Pinella, the Cubs manager, keeps telling anyone who will listen that his team will not fall victim once again to a century’s worth of bad fortune. He swears the Cubs will hold on to their division lead. He swears that the long-suffering Cubs fans will not add another horrid chapter to a 99-year-old legacy of torment and heartache.
“There is no curse,” Piniella said before Tuesday’s game.
The Cubs then went out and lost a two-hitter to the worst team in the National League, 4-2.
Only explanation for a 4-2 loss: supernatural forces.
Time is running out, and if I was a betting man,
"Were." Hypothetical subjunctive, man. Come on.
here’s what I’d put my money on:
The Mets will hold to their division lead.
Mets lost today. Phillies won. Mets are a game out.
The Cubs will not. There is a curse. There is a curse.
Again, Cubs won. I am watching the Brewers lose to San Diego right now. That will mean a three game lead for the Cubs with two to play. That will mean a division win for the Cubs. Unless...........the curse should strike! And add more games!!!!
Philadelphia will find its way into the playoffs, and Charlie Manuel will save his job and win manager of the year.
Yes. They will probably win their division, beating those selfsame Mets you said would not collapse.
The Brewers win the NL Central because they finish the season at home, where they are 20 games above .500.
The Brewers have lost the NL Central.
The Colorado Rockies will win the NL West, knocking off first-place Arizona with the season-closing series in Denver this weekend.
Colorado has lost the NL West. You didn't make these bets, did you?
A year ago, the last team you could have imagined won the World Series. The Cardinals finished the regular season with a paltry 83 victories. They lost 10 of their last 14 games, and had a seven-game losing streak that stretched into the game’s final week.
You know, Bryan Burwell, a writer I very much admire once said this about the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals: "A little more than a year ago, the [Cardinals] were on an unconscious roll toward an unlikely World Series title and this ballpark was alive with championship noises." You know who that writer was? It was you, like five seconds ago. Please jibe the sentence you just wrote with the one you wrote five seconds ago.
Twelve months later, the mad rush toward October baseball is back in full affect. It doesn’t matter what we think. It doesn’t matter what insurmountable odds are piled up against these players. Miracles can happen and usually do.
Except for the Cubs.
There is a curse. There really is.
No, there is not. There is no such things as curses. Just as there is no such thing as hobgoblins, wood sprites, Poseidons, Giant Aardwolves, Godzillas, orcs, teeth fairies, psychics, daemons, or true Yankees.
The Cubs just won the Central. The curse is reversed!!!!!!!
Just kidding. They know more about playing their sport than I'll ever know about anything, probably. But here's a funny player poll on SI.com.
Which individual hitting statistic is the most meaningful?
Runs Batted In....41% On-base percentage.....19% Batting average.....13% On-base plus slugging.....11% Runs.....6% Home Runs.....4% RISP Average.....2% Slugging.....1% Two-out RBIs.....1% Strikeouts (Batter).....1%
I want to know the joker who voted for two-out RBIs. Bill Hall? Akinori Iwamura? Joba? Smells like Joba to me.
The correct answer, of course, is none of the above. (Believe it or not, Manny Ramirez answered "I typically use a combination of EqA, VORP, WPA and WARP, with the last including a fielding component that I'm not entirely sure about." He then donned a corduroy suit and drove off in a steam-powered hovercar.)
Was listening to the "home run calls of the day" or some such nonsense on sports radio today. One of the calls was from Texas. Sammy Sosa hits one out, and over the PA at the stadium they play the theme from The Natural.
Now, the Rangers are 17 games out of first. Their magic number is like negative 14. Sammy Sosa has just hit a home run to put the Rangers up 3-0 in the first inning. Is this really the time to cue up the song that might be the most dramatic melody in baseball?
And, more importantly...The Natural? For Sammy Sosa? Come one, dude who chooses the music at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. There have to be better options.
It's not particularly egregious. But savor it, people. Only a few left in 2007.
Andrei (NY, NY): HI Joe, Always love watching you on Sunday Night Baseball. I was wondering what your thoughts were on momentum heading into the postseason? Is it that important?
Joe Morgan: I've always thought it meant a lot, heading into the postseason, but last year, the Cardinals got in on the last day. Detroit played poorly down the stretch as well, and yet both of them made it to the World Series. Maybe the game has changed enough so that momentum doesn't mean as much as it did before.
Ken Tremendous: Someone with more time and a better work ethic than I might do some research into losing/winning streaks for playoff teams in September. I bet there's no correlation between winning streaks in September and WS wins in October. Remember when the Yankees lost like 19 out of 22 (I am wildly guessing) down the stretch in like 2000 and ended up with like 87 wins... and won the World Series? In a small sample size of one example that I kind of remember and won't bother to look up, I have just proved my theory.
Dan (Bronx, NY): Hey Joe, what do you think of Mike Mussina's turnaround? It looks to me like hes been able to concetrate better on the mound lately.
KT: Excellent use of "concetrate" Dan. Well done.
Joe Morgan: I don't know what to make of his turnaround. He is a veteran who has had ups and downs before, so he should know how to go back to fundamentals and get his game together. I'm surprised it took him so long to do that. We'll have to see how he pitches in the playoffs. As a veteran, he was able to figure it out for these last few starts.
KT: I like how there's no mention of the fact that Mussina took like a month off. Maybe that helped?
Doug (Mechanicsburg, Pa): With a week left, two teams tied and one team a game back for the NL Wild Card, Who do you think will win it Joe?
Joe Morgan: I would hedge towards philadelphia, but we know things change on a daily basis. I think Philly can win it with their offense. The Padres need to win it with their pitching, and Chris Young and Greg Maddux have not been pitching well. The Rockies have done a great job of getting back in the race, but I don't see them getting back in it.
KT: The Rockies have done a great job of getting back in the race. But: I don't see them getting back in [the race]. Solve that one, fuckers!
Liz ( Big Apple): I think it's unfair for Willie Randolph to take the fall of the Mets issues, and if they don't get in the playoffs why should he get fired and not omar?
Joe Morgan: Neither one will get fired, but I agree with you 100 percent. It's amazing to me; they have this same pitching staff all year, and he's in first place. Now that they don't know who will start day-to-day, it's his fault? I still think they will win their division, but I'm amazed at the heat he has taken when he's had so many injuries on his team. He should get more credit for leading that team to first place. He should be Manager of the Year, not the guy taking the heat. He and Bob Melvin of the Diamondbacks have done the best job managing in the league. KT: The Manager of the Year Award is a dumb species in an already dumb genus (awards), but if you're going to give it out, you pretty much have to give it to Melvin, right? Give it to the guy whose team inexplicably outperformed its pyth by like 84 games. Because: that fact is probably crazy luck, and if they played another 162 game season with the same crew they'd probably go 78-84, but on the off chance his managing somehow had anything to do with it, he wins. I just don't know how you can give it to a guy with a huge payroll whose team has fallen apart at the seams down the stretch. Justify that.
D. Malphabet (Bronx, NYC): Should the Yanks play Giambi at first base, or stick with a better defender for the playoffs?
Joe Morgan: It depends on who you're playing. If they end up playing Cleveland, where Carmona and Sabathia will start, runs will be at a premium, so you wouldn't put Giambi there. If you'll play a team like the Angels, then I think you have to try to score runs, because the Angels pitching staff won't shut you down.
KT: Just to reiterate: if you play the Indians, runs will be at a premium. But -- and here's where the difference lies -- if you play the Angels, then you will have to try to score runs.
Edge slightly to Cleveland, I guess, but it's thin. Game three starters are who, Westbrook or Byrd, and Weaver, maybe? Seems like a push. Bullpens? Both pretty good. I'd take KRod over Joe Borowski and his like 10.87 WHIP.
Mike(NY): Do you think the Mets should bring back Moises Alou or go with the kids in the outfield?
Joe Morgan: Moises Alou can hit.
KT: Moises Alou is 41, makes $7.5m, and has missed half the season with injuries. Yes, he is hitting .345/.396/.529. Which is amazing, really. But he is 41, and has missed half the season with injuries. Not too many 42 year-olds with awesome seasons.
He's always been a great hitter. It'll depend on what they end up with pitching-wise. If they can get good pitching, you need to go with defense out there. If not, you need offense. He's the most consistent
KT: Emphasis mine.
hitter on that ballclub. It all depends on the team makeup.
A lot also depends on whether he will turn 42 next year, which he will.
Paddy (St. Louis, MO): Hi Joe, I've heard 2008 will be Vin Scully's last season in the booth. Do you have any Scully stories, and will you have him as a guest next year?
Joe Morgan: I have stories, but I can't tell them!
KT: One hundred dollars to anyone with an awesome story involving Joe and Vin Scully. Two hundred if it involves cocaine.
Now pay attention, because this next one is fantastic.
Matt H. Denver, CO: Who do you think should win the NL MVP?
Joe Morgan: It hasn't been decided yet. If I had to pick one guy right now, it would be Jimmy Rollins. The MVP award doesn't say "most valuable on a winning team", it says "most valuable". I will contradict myself here by saying that if the Phillies make the playoffs, I would pick Rollins, and if the Brewers do so, I would pick Prince Fielder.
This is just loony. He typed the first part, and then spent the time to type out the contradiction part, then looked at it, decided against editing the first part, and hit "publish." A weird, diseased mind.
Phillip (Baton Rouge, LA): If you could have one player on your team past or present, excluding yourself, who would you want to go into the payoffs with?
KT: First of all, Phil, how could Joe not be on his own team? Second: don't look. Guess who he says.
Joe Morgan: I guess I would say Willie Mays, because he's the greatest player I've ever seen.
Were you right? I guessed Concepcion. He jujitsued me.
Joe Morgan: By next Tuesday, when we have the chat, we'll know who's in the playoffs, who's the NL MVP, and have a lot of other answers.
KT: No, as many of our readers have already pointed out, we will not. The awards are handed out post-postseason.
For years, the debate raged. There were clutch fundamentalists, clutchocaust deniers, the skeptical but clutch-curious...
Put down your halberds, boys. The war is over. You can thank Dave Sessions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Clutch exists, and it can be defined by one statistic: RBI per home run. That's right. It was staring at us right in the face. What dummies we were! Dave?
The Academy Awards have the Razzies. So why doesn't baseball have a Least Valuable Player award?
To be fair, Dave, this doesn't really line up. You guys remember standardized test analogies, right? Wouldn't the correct analogy be:
Movies : Razzies :: Baseball : Least Valuable Player
Or Dave could've gone with:
Academy Awards : Razzies :: Most Valuable Player : Least Valuable Player
Who's bored already? Here's a random analogy, for fun:
Cardamom : Churlishness :: Igneous Rock : ???
Answer to come never. Here are our candidates, who can all take solace in the fact that they'll start 2008 with a chance at winning the Comeback Player of the Year award:
Everybody take a deep breath. Dave Sessions is about to name who he thinks are the least valuable players of 2007. Least. Lessest. If you had a graduated cylinder that measured baseball value in terms of volume of perchloric acid, these players would make the cylinder nearly empty of scalding fluid. Mr. Sessions, your first name is...
Barry Bonds, Giants
Oof. Maybe that's a typo. Maybe he meant to write "Ray Durham, Giants," or "Entire Team, Pirates." Let me take a second look. Nope. Still Bonds. The same Bonds who would lead the NL in OPS and all of MLB in OBP if he had enough at bats. This motherfucker has an OBP of damn near .500!
Sure, he sold a lot of tickets in San Francisco when he hit homer No. 756* and his statistics are much too good to merit LVP selection.
Really. And yet he is the first goddamn name on your stupid list.
P.S. Very clever use of asterisk, will have to make mental note to use that in the future.
But even though he has hit 28 homers this season, he has only 66 RBI because 15 of his prodigious blasts were solo shots. A player's number of RBI per homer strikes us as a worthy measure of his ability to get the job done in clutch situations, and Bonds' average of 2.36 RBI/HR is the second-lowest among the majors' top 25 home run hitters this season.
Oh my Jesus fucking shitdick. So much to hate here. Let's start with "A player's number of RBI per homer strikes us" -- who the fuck is us? Dave Sessions and a lobster pinned to his forehead that speaks Portuguese into his ear?
Wait a minute. Could the reason that Barry Bonds doesn't have many RBI per home run be because no one fucking wants to pitch to him with runners on because he's arguably the best hitter of all time? Dave, you just nominated the best hitter of all time to be the Least Valuable Player. Because he's not clutch. In a season where he OPSed 1.401 with RISP and 2 outs.
Hey, you know what? With RISP, Barry Bonds had 76 at bats and 59 walks. No one pitched to him. Of course they didn't. At one point I believe Barry batted fourth in the Giants' lineup and a great auk batted fifth. It was amazing. The auk gave it his all but grounded out weakly to short.
Does anyone else think Dave Sessions has never seen Barry Bonds or any other human being play a baseball game? Has he not heard that the man is known to take a walk every so often because every pitcher on Earth fears him?
He's too fragile to play every day, he makes $15.5 million a year, and his team could wind up with the worst record in the National League.
There is an argument to be made that $15.5 million is too much to pay someone who doesn't play every day, especially if the franchise has a reasonable payroll. That argument has nothing to do with the ludicrous assumption that RBI/HR has anything to do with clutchitude or heart or balls or HIV-positivity.
P.S. Again: Seriously, Dave Sessions, what do you want Barry Bonds to do when guys throw the ball fifteen feet outside the strike zone? Throw his bat at the ball and hope for the best? Do what Miguel Cabrera did that one time and lean over and smack a double? (Actually, that would be pretty awesome.) You're a weird guy, Dave.
Quick Revisiting of " I Guess I'm Hoping He Was Just Drunk?"
Because his delivery and timing has to be heard to be believed, here's Mike Patrick musing about Britney Spears at the climax of a huge football game. Pay special attention to Todd Blackledge's astonishment/disgust:
Also enjoyable: how serious Patrick gets when he has to interrupt his Britney talk with actual game-calling. "Georgia from the 25 ... " (Holy shit, holy shit, did anyone hear what I just said? Better make my voice extra-serious now. I hope no one heard. I'm going to get fired, aren't I? Serious voice, serious voice!)
"We needed this win. It would have been a huge blow to lose this game, especially after last night," Alex Rodriguez said. "It was like a heavyweight battle. You had the feeling that whoever batted last would get the win."
So...since the game was in New York...you were pretty sure you had it all the way, then?
Crowded FJM house chez Anthony Baseball. We got Junior, Coach, Jimmy Ballgame, Anthony Baseball, Anthony Baseball Sr., Murbles and dak all watching Alabama - Georgia on ESPN. Just waiting for the grill to get warm.
So. Alabama kicks a field goal to go up 23-20 in Overtime. Mike Patrick, apropos of absolutely zero, has something to say. Todd Blackledge plays the part of the baffled color man.
MP: "I have an important question. What is Britney doing with her life?" TB: "Who?" MP: "Britney!" TB: "...Britney who?" MP: "Spears! What is she doing with her career?" TB: "Why do we care at this point?...Is she here?" MP: "I don't think so." TB: "Is she a football fan?" MP: "Oh I'm sure she is." [two seconds pass] "Georgia from the 25."
Pags has a new little ditty over at The BaseLine Report. In this one, he lists every transaction Theo Epstein has made since he became the Sox' GM, and rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. I think he's just baiting us, frankly, but consider me baited.
1/14/03 Claimed 1B/OF Kevin Millar off unconditional release waivers from the Florida Marlins. The Sox pleaded with [Kevin Millar] for months not to go to Japan as if he were the second coming of Babe Ruth. Millar was brought in for his bat but after a solid first half of the 2003 season, struggled tremendously for the next two and a half seasons as a member of the Red Sox. Because of his personality and cozy relationship with both the media and the fans some of his shortcomings are overlooked. Millar was a well below average major league first baseman. He peeked in 2003 with 25 home runs but declined rapidly over his three years culminating in a 2005 season when he hit only nine home runs. Grade: 3.5
In 2004 Kevin Millar hit .297/.383/.474. An .857 OPS (117 OPS+). That's pretty effing good for $2.65m. In 2003 he made $2m and hit 25 HR. And in order to get him they pissed off some Japanese dudes but actually gave up: nothing.
My Grade for the Millar Deal: 7.0 My Grade for Pags' Evaluation: 38.8 (on the 115-point FJM Writing Scale)
7/29/03 Acquired RHP Scott Williamson from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league LHP Phil Dumatrait, a minor league player to be named and cash considerations.
This was theoretically the solution to the bullpen problem that had killed Boston all year long. This was easy to predict even before the season started when Epstein decided to Bill James’ “bullpen ace” model for the 2003 season...Maybe [Epstein] was too busy using up the sixth highest payroll in baseball to sign sabermetric studs like Jeremy Giambi and Kevin Millar to address the bull pen properly...Williamson takes the fall because this move symbolizes the lack of a shut down closer in the pen and the feeling that the Sox did not need to acquire one during the season. Grade: 1
It's hard to judge whether this is a good evaluation of the Williamson deal, because the smoke coming out of Pags' ears due to his fury at non-traditional thinking is clouding my keyboard. More on this insane misreading of Bill James' "Bullpen Ace" model in a minute. For now, allow me only to say that Phil Dumatrait is 26 and made his MLB debut this year, giving up a tidy 39 hits in his first 18 innings. So, I think we can say that this deal is not a "1," because Epstein didn't give anything up except cash. I will also add that in 2004, SWilly gave up 11 hits in 28.2 IP, posting a 388 ERA+. A very small sample size, to be sure, and the guy was always hurt and kind of unreliable. But he gave the '03 and '04 teams some crazy hi-leverage innings, and the image of people flailing at his ceiling-to-floor curve is one of my most lasting memories. (Save your emails, people. Not every single sentence I write has to be fact-based.)
If you're into stats instead of anecdotal musings: in the 2003 postseason, Williamson pitched in eight games, and went 2-0 with 3 saves. He threw 8 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 14 (!) Ks. You're telling me that and the 28 innings he threw in 2004 wasn't worth Phil Dumatrait? Oh -- no, you're not. You're actually telling me that on the 10-point PagsScale that trade gets the worst possible score.
My Grade for Williamson: 7 My Grade for Pags' Write-Up of Williamson: -40 Trumpets (on the -500 to 600 Trumpet evaluation system; remember -- 355 is highest)
7/31/03 Acquired RHP Jeff Suppan, RHP Brandon Lyon and RHP Anastacio Martinez from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for INF Freddy Sanchez, LHP Mike Gonzalez and cash considerations.
This was a deadline day deal in which Epstein looked to bolster the starting rotation. The hope was to gain something in the short term while giving something up in the long term. Turned out they were half right: they gave up something in the long term. Suppan started ten games for the Sox and posted a 3-4 record with a 5.57 ERA. Sanchez on the other hand is a two time all star and also the 2006 NL batting champ with a .344 average. He was one of the most valuable prospects in the entire organization and was given up for a pitcher who ultimately hurt the Red Sox. While Suppan would later find some success in the national league, he was a huge bust in Boston and Theo totally misused one of his most valuable trading pieces. Grade: 2
A lot = bad about this. Yes, Suppan sucked after the trade. But he was the best available starter, and the Sox badly needed one. Second, Sanchez was a decent prospect, but he was blocked in the Red Sox system by Hanley Ramirez, so he was expendable. Third, this was actually a great deal, because originally the Sox were getting Mike Gonzalez, a lefty reliever who could have greatly helped them. I quote from Baseball America:
The Red Sox and Pirates accomplished two things with the trade on Thursday that sent Jeff Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Double-A righthander Anastacio Martinez to Boston and two Triple-A players, infielder Freddy Sanchez and lefthander Mike Gonzalez, plus $500,000 to Pittsburgh. The Red Sox got a much-needed starter in Suppan, while the Pirates got rid of his salary. Secondly, the teams straightened out their July 22 trade.
In that deal, Boston got Scott Sauerbeck and Gonzalez for Lyon and Martinez. The Pirates said Lyon had fraying in his elbow and placed him on the disabled list on July 25. The Red Sox maintained he was healthy and had pitched for them two days before the trade. The net effect of the two transactions is that Boston gets Sauerbeck and Suppan for Sanchez.
When the Bucs started hissing that Lyon had arm problems, the Sox essentially gave them Gonzalez back to soothe their huffy nerves. But the way Pags writes it up here, it seems like the Sox traded Gonzalez and Sanchez for Suppan, which = no. Also, getting to two All-Star Games when you play for the Pirates doesn't mean very much at all, methinks.
My Grade for the Suppan Trade: 4 My Grade for "3:10 to Yuma," Which I Saw Last Night, on the 1-18 Pagliarulos Scale: 14 Pagliarulos
11/14/03 RHP Mike Timlin to a one-year contract.
Epstein game Timlin a two and a half million dollar deal to help improve the bull pen. Timlin was a veteran pitcher who helped with a lot of the younger arms in the pen. On the field he was a reliable, but not shut down, middle relief pitcher. His playoff experience would prove to be valuable down the stretch. Grade: 5
In 2003 Mike Timlin threw 83 innings with a 133 ERA+ and a 65/9 K/BB ratio and a 1.02 WHIP. How is that not a "shut down" middle reliever? That's a better WHIP than Frankie Rodriguez has had in 3 of the last 4 years. And 83 innings is a lot of innings. In 2004 he threw 76 innings with a 1.23 WHIP. Not overwhelming, but pretty good. And by the way, that deal in 2003 was for $850,000 plus incentives. $2.5m was for 2004. So for $850,000, Theo got a guy with a WHIP of 1.02 over 83 innings. That's a really really really good deal. And every year since, he's been on a 1-year deal, so there's no long-term commitment. Also, as if I need to keep going, the guy's got a 1.12 WHIP in 57 innings this year at age 41. What don't you like about the Timlin deal, dummy?
My Grade for the Timlin Deal: 8 My Grade on my Junior Year AP History Report on the Role of "Neo-Yellow Journalism" in U.S. Involvement in Central American Military Conflicts: A-minus
12/13/03 Signed free-agent RHP Keith Foulke to a three-year deal that includes a vested option for a fourth year.
Real quick: the answer is 9. Maybe 8, but almost definitely 9. Keith Foulke should have been the ALCS MVP. He might have been the Sox' team MVP for 2004. His 2005 and '06 were disappointing and injury-riddled, but the guy was lights-out in the regular season, and sold out his body and soul in some of the most hi-lev innings in team history in the playoffs and came through every single time. So, 8-9, and I'd even kick it up to 10 if I were feeling saucy.
Foulke was brought to Boston to be the permanent shut down closer that the Sox decided they didn’t need in 2003. This was blatantly admitting that Bill James’s “bullpen ace” model just didn’t work.
No. No, sorry. That's not true. Foulke was a "bullpen ace," and the actual theory is that the bullpen ace shouldn't always just pitch the ninth inning no matter what the situation is, but rather should be used in the most hi-lev situations, be they in the 6th, 7th, 8th, what have you. So, no, acquiring a bullpen ace was not "blatantly admitting" that the "bullpen ace" model didn't work; it was an attempt to get a better bullpen ace in order to more effectively use the "bullpen ace" model. And maybe if you had thought about what you were writing for ten nanoseconds, or had bothered to read about the theory, you wouldn't have embarrassed yourself by writing that.
Foulke was being paid like a premium closer making over eighteen million dollars in his three years. Unfortunately he only pitched like a premium closer for one year. Foulke was everything he was supposed to be in 2004 and exceeded all expectations when he dominated the post season opposition. He had a miserable season in 2005 and by the first week of the 2006 season he had lost his job to Jonathan Papelbon. While Foulke has to be given credit for the 2004 championship, he was being paid for three years and only performed in one of them. The Sox did not get good value for Foulke at all. Grade: 4
How can you say they did not get value for Foulke? They gave up nothing but cash, and in 2004 they got a .94 WHIP in 83 innings. Then, in a postseason that featured back-to-back extra inning games with the Yankees, when the margin for error was exactly zero, he threw 14 innings, giving up 7 hits, and getting 19 Ks. He gave up one run in those 14 innings.
Keith Foulke won the World Series for the Red Sox. I'm not kidding. Go here and read about what he did in the ALCS, if you don't believe me. They never get out of that series -- not even close -- if not for Keith Foulke. The rest of his tenure fell flat, but that one year was easily worth $18m. Easily.
12/16/03 Acquired IF Mark Bellhorn from Rockies for a player to be named.
Bellhorn was almost the same player as Todd Walker. He was below average defensively and had no range at all. Offensively he was a downgrade. While he did come up with some big hits in the 2004 playoffs, he often went through painful droughts where he wouldn’t be able to hit the ball for weeks at a time. The one positive of the Bellhorn deal was that he came cheap and the Sox were able to get away with him at second for one year. Grade: 4.5
Theo Epstein paid Mark Bellhorn $490,000 in 2004 and he gave them 6.4 WARP3. Plus, the dude was so the Anti-ARod, banging a key 3-run homer in Game Six of the ALCS against the Yankees in New York. And then another go-ahead late-inning dong in WS Game One. ARod would never do that because he is a choker! He chokes and Bellhorn did not. Bellhorn is better than ARod. Jeter Rules!
($490,000 for six and a half wins = well done, Mr. GM.)
12/17/04 Signed SS Edgar Renteria to a four-year contract with a club option for 2009.
This was a classic case of Theo looking only at the talent of a player and not taking into account the player’s make-up and how he would fit into the team. Edgar Renteria is an above average major league shortstop, but he could not play in Boston.
And what, exactly, about Edgar Renteria's past would have indicated this to be the case?
The entire season was a mess all around. At the plate he hit .276 and racked up 100 strikeouts while putting up weak power numbers. He wasn’t any better in the field committing a career worst thirty errors. However, it was letting go of Cabrera that was more of a problem than signing Renteria. Cabrera’s career has taken off since his time in Boston and every Sox fan still dreams of him playing shortstop for the Sox.
I do not dream of that thing.
OCab 2005 EqA: .255 Renteria 2005 EqA: .263
I loved OCab in the stretch run of 2004, because he was fun and energetic and played good defense and did funny handshakes with every member of the team, and also because they traded Nomar to get him, and if I didn't distract myself constantly by saying "Cabrera is good!" I would've ended up crying a lot. Cabrera put up some great AB in the postseason. But if he had been signed to a big 4-year deal, and had put up OPS+ of 82, 95, and 101 in the next three years (like he's done in LA), the love affair would've ended right quick.
Renteria got paid like one of the best shortstops in the game but his play was far from that assessment. Like his former manager Tony La Russa predicted, Renteria struggled mightily under the pressure of Boston. Grade: 1
Yes. We should all listen to Tony La Russa more. That's the problem.
My Grade for the Renteria Deal: 2 My Grade for Tony La Russa -- Just, Like, An Overall Grade for His Whole "Deal": 0
12/23/04 Signed RHP Wade Miller to a one-year contract.
This was a puzzling move. Epstein decided to take a risk on the often injured Miller. Miller lived up to his reputation making only sixteen starts on the year due to injury. He had a 4-4 record with a 4.95 ERA, average numbers at best. Grade: 2.5
It was a 1 year, $1.5m contract laden with incentives. For a guy who at one point was dominant. And for whom they had zero expectations. It didn't work out. They non-tendered him. These are exactly the kind of deals that teams with money to throw around should be making.
My Grade for the Wade Miller Deal: Eh My Wade for the Grade Diller Meal: N/A (nonsense)
There's more of this crap, but I'm going to dinner now. (I do like how he labels the Lugo and Drew deals as "1"s, after one year of 4- and 5-year deals, respectively.)
I'm not even going to write introductions to these things anymore. What's the point? They're all the same.
A-ROD'S CLUTCH SHOWING WEAR
By BRIAN COSTELLO
MR. AUGUST: As the season has cooled off, so has Alex Rodriguez' bat.
Just to short-circuit this whole argument:
Alex Rodriguez, last three years: 1778+ AB, .945 OPS. In September: 291 AB, .995 OPS.
And: drum-roll, please...
This September: .333/.419/.730/1.149.
I am not making this up, people. This idiot is claiming that Alex Rodriguez's bat has gone cold, in a month where he has a fucking .730 SLG and an OPS of 1.149, with 8 HR in 63 AB.
His bat has gone cold. He has an OPS of 1.149.
Justify this, New York Post. I will give you a billion dollars if you can justify this claim.
Signs of Fall are everywhere. The temperature has dipped, leaves are beginning to change colors and Alex Rodriguez looks tighter than Britney Spears' pants.
If Johnny Carson were alive, and still hosting TheTonight Show, and you submitted this joke to him, you would be fired. Come to think of it, if Jay Mohr were doing stand-up at the Ice House in Pasadena and you offered him this joke for free, he would throw a drink in your face.
Also, Alex Rodriguez is "tight" to the tune of a 1.149 OPS this month you terrible hacks.
The Yankee third baseman went 0-for-4 last night, making him 3-for-29 in his last eight games.
Can I just say something about Alex Rodriguez? And thank you, Brian Costello, for bringing this up, because I have been wanting to say this for a while: Alex Rodriguez is a total dick. I'm serious. What other player in baseball would have the gall to go 3 for 29 over an eight game stretch? That is selfish. Do you guys know how much money he makes? I just looked this up. He makes eleventy corbillion dollars a year. For that kind of money, you best not go 3 for 29 over an 8 game stretch. That is selfish and chokey. That is choke-ball. For eleventy corbillion dollars, you better go more like 15 for 29 over an eight game stretch while you also pitch and play three positions including catcher.
Alls I'm saying is, there's a little guy on the Yankees you might have heard of. His name is Derek Motherfucking Jeter. Yeah. You ever heard of him? He's the best athlete in earth's history except for maybe Jim Thorpe. And there is no way -- none -- that Derek Jeter would ever go 3 for 29 (!!!!!!) over an eight game stretch. Not while he's be-pinstripèd. Not while Monument Park is still standing. Not while Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez are--
Derek Jeter, September, thus far: .266/.347/.406. (Sep. 3-Sep. 14: 5-32, one double, no HR.)
-- stop interrupting me! Not while Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez are still breathing God's beautiful Lou Gehrig-flavored air. Until Alex Rodriguez realizes that, all the money in the world can't save his soul from burning in eternal hellfire, that cowardly prick. Also, Paulie O'Neill was the balls!
No one can knock the MVP-caliber season Rodriguez is having, but as he's learned in his first three years in The Bronx, his season ultimately will be measured by what he does during the Yankees' pennant chase and playoff run.
That stupid fact wouldn't have anything to do with...the media, would it?
Fortunately for Rodriguez, the Yankees have not needed his offense. Last night's 2-1 victory over the Orioles was their 12th win in 14 games. They have been winning in spite of the hole in the middle of their lineup wearing No. 13.
The hole in their line-up. The hole in their line-up. Give me a second. I just want to remember everything about this moment -- where I am sitting, what I am wearing, the temperature outside -- because this is the moment that Alex Rod was referred to as a hole in the Yankee line-up, because he had a bad eight games, in a year in which he leads his league in all meaningful (and most unmeaningful) categories.
Live this moment, people. This is real. This is happening to all of us. We are humans, here on earth, with feelings, and consciousness, and this is happening, right now, to us.
Rodriguez left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.
He struck out in second inning against Brian Burres and again in the eighth against Chad Bradford. That ran his strikeout total to 15 since his last home run on Sept. 9 in Kansas City.
It also sent his EqA tumbling all the way down to .337. The best in the league.
On one of the strangest plays of the night, Rodriguez appeared to have a mental slip. In the fifth inning, he was at the plate with Doug Mientkiewicz at third and Bobby Abreu at first and two out.
Burres unleashed a wild pitch that sailed past catcher Ramon Hernandez and reached the backstop. Inexplicably, Rodriguez stayed in the right-handed batter's box as Mientkiewicz broke for home. Foreseeing a collision, plate umpire Mike Reilly grabbed Rodriguez by the arm and pulled him out of the way.
Graig Nettles never would have done that. Drew Henson would never have done that. Enrique Wilson never would have done that. And do I even have to mention that one Dr. Scotthew von Brosius never would have done that? Yes, I do. Scott Brosius never would have done that.
"There was a chance to be a play at the plate so I wanted him to move," Reilly said. "He was standing there. I grabbed his arm and said, 'Alex, I've got to see it.' "
Mientkiewicz said he didn't see Rodriguez standing there because he was running so hard.
"It would have been a double-negative," Mientkiewicz said. "I would have cleaned him out and gotten released tomorrow."
Sorry, are we still talking about this? This makes the news? ARod didn't immediately jump out of the way of Doug Malphabet as Malphabet charged home from 3rd on a wild pitch? This is worth ten column inches? This is proof of something?
Later in the at-bat, Rodriguez had his hardest-hit ball of the night, a long fly to left.
The Yankee Stadium crowd still has not turned on A-Rod, but you get the feeling that if he looks this bad in the playoffs the "MVP" chants will transform back into the boos he heard last season.
I have been Groundhog Day-ing this exact article all effing year, and allow me to say, here, in late September: I hope -- I pray -- that ARod fails miserably in the playoffs, because I dislike his team. And I hope that Yankee Stadium boos him mercilessly, because I want him to leave that team, because he is the best hitter in baseball. I am also interested in what happens if he has a repeat of the 2004 ALCS, where he goes like 8-31 or something...not great, not terrible. Because I think what would happen is: people would savage him anyway. In fact, if he goes 15-20 in the ALDS and the Yankees lose, I think the media would still write that he "still hasn't led his team to victory," and I would find that immensely pleasurable.
The next month may be the most important month in Rodriguez's career. His stay in pinstripes has been shadowed by what he's done in October. This year there is the added factor of him possibly opting out of his contract and leaving New York.
Weirdly, this is the end of the article. Oh well. At least the points he made were well-thought-out and insightful.
A .313 average, 52 home runs, 141 RBIs and 134 runs with two weeks to play? He is the best "hitter" in the game this year, without dispute.
Why is "hitter" in quotes? Is "hitting" an unimportant part of the equation? Sure, he's the best "hitter" in the game. But can he cook? And what's his high score on "Snood?" This is the "Best Player in Baseball" contest, man! Factor this shizz in!
However, defensively he lags behind pretty much any third baseman not named Troy and he's despised by opponents and teammates alike.
Is ARod the best player in MLB this season? No. Because he is despised by people. In order to be good at baseball you have to be well-liked. Take Ty Cobb, for example. Or Ted Williams -- a true mensch. Bob Gibson handed out turkeys to homeless dudes every Thanksgiving. Reggie Jackson was basically a father figure/therapist for his teammates. And Roger Clemens was voted "Sweetest" and "Girls' Choice for Brother" in the 2004 MLB Yearbook.
Also, for what it's worth, ARod is fine defensively. Not the best ever, but fine.
MLB's best player? Magglio Ordonez, Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero, Derek Jeter and a handful of others in the AL alone will split that vote. Apparently exotic dancers really like him though.
Terrible, terrible antecedent problem here, with the last sentence. Also..fuck the heck?
Magglio: 10.6/.351 Ichiro: 11.4/.311 (with a like .435 SLG). Vlad: 8.5/.329 Jetes: 8.7/.294 ARod: 13.7/.361
Where, oh where, is the debate?
(EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this Mooney fellow may just be a reader of the paper, not a writer. Not that it matters, in the long run.)
Matt (Brooklyn, NY): Mike Mussina. Wow, what a comeback! How on earth did he get his fastball up to 90 again? Will he or Hughes, or Kennedy (who has also been impressive), be in the postseason rotation?
Joe Morgan: I talked to Joe Torre before the game on Sunday and he has no idea what the rotation will be. And I have no ideas how he got his fastball back up there between starts, but he did and won the game.
Ken Tremendous: I like it when he's brash. I have no idea! Beats me! And as for the issue of the Yankees' postseason rotation -- I'm not even going to guess! Name as many people as you want -- Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy...I'm not going to guess on even one person. Because I don't have to. Because there are no repercussions for my actions. Next, please.
Derrick Cleveland Ohio: Did Cleveland basically clinch it last night? First Cavs, here comes the Tribe, and let's go Browns!
Joe Morgan: Well no one has clinched, but they are in better position and if you are a betting man you are feeling good about Cleveland. But Cleveland could lose a couple here, so don't get ahead of yourself. Obviously Cleveland looks good, but the Mets looked good a week ago.
KT: Yes, let's not get ahead of ourselves. For example, this site says that there is only a 99.96% chance of the Indians making the playoffs. So be cool, everyone. No celebrating yet.
Mr. Met (Queens, NY): Can you come teach my Mets how to play defense Mr. Morgan?
Joe Morgan: Too late to teach them! Defense is like hitting, it is contagious.
KT: Finish this old-school SAT question.
Defense is like _________. It is contagious.
A. pink eye B. seeing someone yawning and then yawning yourself C. a contagion D. Something that is not "contagious," like "hitting."
When you make mistakes pressure builds up. But it comes down to the individual and his ability to concetrate.
Okay, I'm not altering these at all. And I think -- as I asked in last week's chat -- that Joe believes the word is "concetrate."
Right now the Mets are not concetrating
well on the task at hand. But if you look at the Mets, their offense is giving them the lead, even with the Phillies, and they just can't hold it. That is where the problem lies.
I think their problem lies in the fact that they're trying to concetrate, which is not a thing, and it's frustrating them because it isn't a thing you can do.
Adam, NY: Should Eric Gagne make the Red Sox post-season roster?
Joe Morgan: They put him in that position, and if they are not going to have him on the roster they better make the change today. You cannot let him pitch till the end of the season and then insert someone else in there, who is not used to that position.So if that is what you have to do, do it now, because the new pitcher needs to feel comfortable there.
KT: Good thing they have Okajima, who was the 8th inning guy all year. And Mike Timlin, who was the 8th inning guy for years before that. And Delcarmen, who has pitched in the 8th inning before. So, good analysis -- you only failed to mention three other options they have.
Josh W NY, NY: Who is going to win the NL West - Arizona or San Diego?
Joe Morgan: Well I do not have a crystal ball.
KT: What?! Then what is the point of these chats? I thought the whole point was that you were the one human in the world who could literally divine the future. That's what it says on the ESPN InSider page -- here, look:
Wednesday, September 19
The Morning Buzz, 10 a.m. Fantasy sports w/ Eric Karabell, 11 a.m. NFL with Christ Mortensen, 11 a.m. MLB Hall of Famer and Crystal Ball Owner and Augurer and Knower of That Which Is To Come; He Who Sees Forward, He Who Knows Forward, He Whose Pliant Mind Stretches Hither and Yon Across the Yawning Chasms of Time, He Who Is Everywhere and Nowhere and Somewhere... Joe Morgan, 11:15 a.m. Page 2's DJ Gallo, Noon.
Diego San Juan, Puerto Rico: Who do you like for the AL Cy Young Award?
Joe Morgan: I would say Beckett, Sabbathia, and Lackey are my top three. And as with the MVP, whoever steps up down the stretch will probably get it. And the great thing is that all three of them are playing in meaningful games. All these guys have to win games in order to ensure their team's success.
KT: Up-to-the-second chances the following teams make the playoffs:
Time for Beckett, Sabbathia, and Lackey to step up!
Ryan (NJ): When is Manny Ramirez expected back? He could certainly jump-start the Red Sox just in time for the playoffs...
Joe Morgan: Manny's absence is the reason they are struggling. In clutch, tough sitautions, Manny is the guy you want there along with Ortiz. The young kids looked good for a while but Manny need to be in the lineup for them to be a championship team. I am not sure when he will be back; I heard Thursday, but I am not sure.
KT: Who's your source on that? Because the Sox are off Thursday. But thanks for the update.
dave (milwaukee): No Prince Fielder for NL MVP? Taking nothing away from the other 3 who are all great. But the man is not only putting up huge numbers but he is that teams leader.
Joe Morgan: You are 100% correct. Today's my birthday and I am older and I went blank. I agree with you 100%.
KT: How am I going to work in that it's my birthday? How am I going to work in that it's my birthday? How am I going to work in that it's my birthday? How am I going to work in that it's my birthday? There it is! The opportunity! Go!
Joe Morgan: Thanks for chatting with me today. I am looking forward to some great finishes as the season draws a close. Chat with you next week!
Tuesday Night "Monday Morning Quarterback" Quarterback
I am way, way behind on my e-mail reading, and to those of you who have sent in tips and gotten a wall of angry silence in return, I apologize. I've been out for three days straight celebrating James Spader's Emmy win. But I'm back now, and sobering up, and will post more soon.
I tend to subscribe to the "three dogs barking" theory of internet interest, and even though I feel like picking on Peter King's "10 Things of Things I Think I Think Are Things" column is like shooting fish in a barrel with a barrel-sized fish annihilation laser, enough people sent this quote to me I feel almost a civic duty to link it:
Never a good idea to pitch to Derek Jeter if you could pitch to Bobby Abreu instead. I don't care what the stats say. Ask Curt Schilling if, with first base open, he'll ever want to pitch to the best player of my lifetime again.
Forget OPS match-ups and career stats (most/all of which favor Abreu). Let's just focus on the fact that Peter King, born in 1958, thinks that Derek Jeter is the best player of his lifetime.
With reader Matthew's help, that's a big old handful of f-you to:
Barry Bonds Albert Pujols Mickey Mantle Vlad A-Rod Willie Mays Hank Aaron Gary Sheffield Pete Rose Joe Morgan (just for fun) Rod Carew Tony Gwynn Mike Schmidt Reggie Jackson
You're Joe Morgan. You don't know anything about newfangled baseball statistics, you don't care to learn, and frankly, you mostly stay away from talking about them when you're commenting on a game. Fine.
But at least be knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of the players you're watching. Don't say stuff like this:
Damon doesn't have the strong arm anymore.
Johnny Damon never, never, never had anything close to resembling even an average arm. He's a fairly famous player who in recent years has manned center field for the two marquee teams in baseball. He had dumb hair, even dumber facial hair, he wrote a book, he went on Letterman, he had an attention-whoring wife. This is not an obscure September call-up. It's Johnny Fitzgerald Nitro Damon we're talking about here.
If you're Joe Morgan, isn't it your responsibility to know something, anything about him?
dak and Junior flew in last night, and came over to my place in Partridge today to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game. That's fun, right? No it is not. Because we get the Dodgers-Snakes. Because who wants to watch Yankees-Red Sox on a Saturday in September? At Fenway? Beckett-Wang? Boring.
And then, we're treated to this gem from some dummy on Fox, in re: Juan Pierre:
Some folks talk about his on-base percentage -- it's a little bit lower than some fans would like. I'll take him on my team. Especially with regard to his leadership ability and his work ethic -- as well as those stats!
You can have him, friend. On our team, we will take anyone else.
Try to decipher this one, over at Pags's site. I'm pretty sure it's nonsense.
I like that the X-Axis is labeled: "Period." And what is the Y-Axis? How much he is "worth?" How much the team should pay him? Why is Ian Kennedy worth exactly three million dollars for each of his first three periods in the league? Why is Miranda worth two million in Period One, then up to three million in Period Two, then back down to two million in Period Three?
Senator Mitchell? You can end your investigation, sir. I'm sure you've been doing a lot of hard work, pounding the pavement, rooting around in dark alleys, wearing trenchcoats, smoking pipes. I'm telling you now you can stop and relax. Our long national roidmare is over thanks to a gutsy young muckraker from north of the border, one Mr. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. At the cost of only his own blood, sweat, tears and pancreatic secretions, Mr. Griffin has fingered the culprit behind this whole steroid mess. Yes, there is only one. A lone gunman. A puppeteer behind the scenes. A criminal mastermind. A shadowlord lurking in the spaces our society dares not tread.
Who is it? It's a book. It's called Moneyball. Maybe you've heard of it?
People are always accusing me of misrepresenting what Moneyball was all about,
And it's impossible that you're actually wrong about it, so -- but there are so many facets and interpretations that it's tough to say anyone is really wrong.
I don't believe that's actually true, and certainly in this case, sir, it most undoubtedly is not. What you are about to say about Moneyball is unequivocally, unquestionably, indubitably wrong.
But think about this. One of the Billy Beane precepts was to look for college and, occasionally, high school hitters that were not really the greatest athletes on their team but had the discipline to wait for the right pitch and then smack the hell out of it when they found it. On-base percentage, dude. That's the wave of the future. Forget about how boring those four-hour games get. These were the bargains.
This is wrong, but not the wrongest part. That part we're about to get to. (As a an aside, does Griffin really blame Billy Beane for caring about winning at the expense of game length? We're trying to win games here, people, are we not?)
Take a deep breath, now, and pre-emptively duct tape your jaw so that it does not succumb to gravity, friends:
Now think of a college kid back then in the post-Mark McGwire era who knew he was always going to be on the fringe because he wasn't your most graceful natural athlete, but knew that if only he was a lot stronger, he could learn to play within himself and crush an occasional mistake pitch. As long as he didn't chase bad ones he could make an impact in this century's home run crazy major-league baseball. As for a position in the field, they could teach him to be adequate somewhere. Major league minimum of $319,000 (U.S.) is all that these kids wanted. That's the carrot. He had the stick. The rest was gravy. Before there was steroid testing, who, if they were on the fringe with a clear market for awkward sluggers, wouldn't take that plunge? Moneyball is over.
Wow. Wow. Wow. (The last "wow" was a backwards "wow," I'm so wowed.) It's so clear to me now. Moneyball is the root of all steroids! Bruce Willis is a ghost! Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze! How could we all have been so blind?
I feel that we're cleansed, now, America. Thank you, Mr. Griffin, or as they say in your native Canada, grazie. Now that you've revealed to us the truth, we can truly say that Moneyball, and therefore all steroid use, is finally dead.
This Is What Happens When Rick Sutcliffe Tries To Come Up With Unconventional Wisdom
Red Sox-Yankees, 4:49 PST. Dusty Baker's in the booth and yet somehow Rick Sutcliffe manages to outcrazy him:
Rick Sutcliffe: We were talking last week, OB, about the Cy Young winner, and it's probably going to be Sabathia or whoever wins tomorrow, Chien-Ming Wang or Beckett, but you know who's had the best year? It's been Roy Halladay.
(No one responds.)
Dave O'Brien: The 0-2 ...
Roy Halladay. Cy Young. Hmm. That's thinking outside the bun. What if instead of picking the guy with the best ERA in the league, we pick the guy who has the 19th-best ERA? How about instead of choosing a guy who leads his team in WHIP, we vote for a guy who's third on his own staff (behind Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum (yes, I realize Marcum has some relief appearances thrown in there, but Jesus, it's Shawn Marcum we're talking about here))?
In previous years, yes, Roy Halladay has sometimes been a phenomenal starter. But let's let these very traditional, very digestible statistics speak for themselves:
3.91 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 129 K, 45 BB
Cy ... Young? Has Sutcliffe even watched baseball this year? Maybe someone is pulling an elaborate experiment on him wherein Sut is constantly wearing contact lenses that show him baseball games from 2003 in place of the current year's games. Yes, that must be it.
Later, Robinson Cano strikes out and Sutcliffe tries to remove himself from the giant, crazy person-shaped hole he's just dug.
Rick Sutcliffe: Getting back to Roy Halladay -- the reason I say that is he doesn't have the Yankees or Red Sox lineup behind him, and yet he's gotta face them. I mean, it's so much tougher to pick up a win when you've got to pitch against these two lineups and you don't have that lineup behind you.
There's some grain of truth behind what Sut's saying, but it's obscured by the K2-size mountain of ludicrosity that is picking Roy Halladay for the Cy Young. Yes, Halladay has faced Boston 5(!) times and the Yankees twice. But I'm fairly confident that saying that the quality of lineups he's faced has not, in fact, accounted for the three-quarters of a run in ERA that separates him from some of the best Cy candidates.
By the way, has anyone else noticed that C.C. Sabathia has pitched 40 more innings than Josh Beckett and Chien-Ming Wang to this point in the season? That's pretty fucking incredible. If you're leading the league in innings and you're still third in ERA, you're doing a pretty awesome job at pitching.
Ignoring a nationwide call for a goofiness cease-fire, Joe Morgan has decided to hold another chat. Alfonso (Boston): Hello Joe. How much does Manny Ramirez's defense hurt the team? Would they be better off trading him in the offseason so Jacoby Ellsbury could play everyday.
Joe Morgan: It seems like when we bring young people up at the end of the year and they get off to a good start, people tend to believe they will play that way for an entire season. You know what you get with Ramirez, a great hitter. And Manny's defense does not hurt them as much as his offense helps them. It is hard to replace players that drive in runs the way Manny does.
Ken Tremendous: Joe's not entirely wrong here. I have resisted drinking the Ellsbury Kool-Aid -- although it looks effing delicious -- due to his less-sugary minor league numbers and the fact that historically there is zero correlation between a player's first 40 MLB at bats and his career statistics. (See Pedroia, Dustin.) However. It should be noted that Manny is currently having his worst offensive year since 1994; that he is on the wrong side of 35; that he costs 20m a year; and that while his defense does not quite completely wipe out his offensive contributions, it sure takes the sheen off 'em.
I don't know what the point of all of this is, except that just saying "Manny's a great hitter" isn't quite good enough to pass muster anymore. On a side note, isn't it crazy how little anyone has talked about Barry Bonds since he hit 756? Does he even play baseball anymore?
Frederick (Jackson, Mississippi): Who is more clutch? Gary Sheffield or David Ortiz?
Joe Morgan: That is a difficult question because --
KT: -- I'll finish your thought here, Joe. It is difficult because "clutch hitting" is not an ability, per se, but a random correlation of very few data points whose importance is enhanced by the human inclination to remember the extraordinary and not the mundane. That's what you were about to say, right?
-- both have done a great job in tight situations, but Ortiz has proven to be the best big-game hitter in baseball. I think he has risen to the occasion more than anyone else. I would have to choose Ortiz at this point over anyone else in the game.
KT: Oh. Okay. Well, that's another way to go.
I say this a day after Ortiz hit a walk-off 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the DRays (an .840 WPA, for those of you who love WPA): most evidence seems to suggest that there is no such thing as "clutch hitting ability." There is "clutch hitting". There is the abstract concept of "ability." But there is no "clutch hitting" skill you can learn, in the way that you learn how to hit for power, or control the strike zone, or throw a slider two inches off the black to induce a groundout. Sorry. Take it up with people who are smarter than I am.
While center fielder Carlos Beltran is probably the Mets' best offensive player, the most important might be left fielder Moises Alou. "He's one of the very best clutch hitters in our game," one rival executive says. "He doesn't care about the situation or who is on the mound. If he gets his pitch, he'll beat you." Alou's career numbers with runners in scoring position: .307 BA, .391 OBP, .513 SLG.
One of the best "clutch hitters" in the game -- .307/.391/.513 with RISP! That's clutch. Except that career, overall, he is: .302/.369/.517. That's basically the same. In fact, it might be the case that he is simply a better walker with men on base. And his SLG is actually lower with RISP.
Enough of that. Let's get to some classic Joe comedy, courtesy of his last sentence:
But Sheffield is one of the best offensive players in the history of the game.
Again, he's not wrong, I guess. Gary is tied for 49th all-time in OPS+. I just like it when Joe gets all hot and bothered about Gary Sheffield.
George (Boston, MA): The White Sox are bringing back essentially the same team next year, and now they'll have the same manager too. Meanwhile they've pretty much mailed it in on this season over the past several months. If nothing changes, what's the chances that they'll play any different next year? Thanks.
Joe Morgan: That is a decision that Ken Williams hgad to make. It was amazing to me that their offesne went dormant to start the year, and then a lack of pitching followed. They are counting on Contreras to rebound, and for Dye, Thome, Konerko to turn it around. What I see them doing is bringing this team back because they have so much money invested in these players. I think they are going to see how the first half of next year's season plays out and then react accordingly to how the team plays.
KT: They're going to see how the team plays, and then react accordingly to how the team has played. This innovative strategy of baseball management is called: "Baseball Management." The White Sox invented it.
John (Chicago, IL): Joe, who do you think, in your opinion, is going to represent the AL in the World Series this year and why? I like Boston because they have the best run differential in baseball and their pitching top to bottom has been statistically the best all year. What do you think?
KT: Hey kids! New to our site and want to know why we think Joe Morgan should be fired? Check out this fun answer!
Joe Morgan: Well the run differential means nothing. It is like OPS, it mean nothing in the grander scheme of things. (...)
Run differential "means nothing." The number of runs a team scores, as compared to the number of runs it gives up, means nothing. Nothing at all. It has no bearing on how good a team is. How could it? After all, it is simply a measure of how many runs a team has scored and how many runs the team has given up. What could that possibly tell anyone about anything? I mean, let's look at the teams with the best run differentials in the AL.
Boston New York LA Angels Cleveland
The four worst teams in the league!
Look, run differential isn't perfect. Every year, teams have terrible run differentials and make the playoffs. The Padres and Twinkies had no business winning their divisions last year. The Snakes have no business winning this year, based on RD. But in general -- let's just all use common sense, here -- the number of runs a team scores and the number it allows should roughly correlate to how successful that team is. Just as, say, a statistic that combines a player's on-base percentage and his slugging percentage should correlate to how good a fucking hitter he is. Why is that controversial?
BTW: if you guys are super into math and want to read about Poisson distributions and revised exponents in the Pythagorean theorem application to ExWL, go here. (Warning: NSFW!!!!)
Francisco (Jalisco, Mexico): The A's have had a little success in the past, but wouldn't you say that this year proves that Billy Beane's approach simply doesn't work?
KT: Hmmm. Legit question or Joe-Baiter?
Joe Morgan: I do not think you can just take one year and prove it. But I have never thought anyone could reinvent the wheel as far as how the game is played. Once you get on the field, everything that has gone on for 100 years does not change; and that means outscoring your opponent and pitching well.
And since you are more likely to outscore your opponent if you don't do stupid stuff like bunt and hit-and-run and stuff... it seems like you and Billy Beane are on the same page, Joe!
I do not think this one year proves anything, but the As playoff failures over the years demonstrate that you cannot win it all under that approach.
A. What approach? B. Four division titles in seven years. C. The A's playoff failures do not demonstrate anything except that once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. Anything. The Reds swept the A's in 1990 despite the A's being hugely favored. Billy Beane had nothing to do with that. Kirk Gibson hit a home run off Eck. Dan Gladden hit a grand slam. Ozzie Smith and Scott Podsednik won games with HR. The A's have a payroll of just under eleven thousand dollars every year, and given that, are far more competitive than they should be. Because of the way they put their team together. How can anyone dispute this?
This year just proves that they lost a lot of good players over the past few years and it has finally caught up to them. But I think they have been reevaluating their approach. At one point they only wanted to draft college players, but this past draft they have drafted some high school players, and I think that is a good approach.
KT: They didn't only want to draft college players. They looked at some motherhumping data and concluded that college pitchers tended to be better bets to succeed than high school pitchers, so they erred on the side of drafting college pitchers.
You didn't read the book. You hate the book. You think Billy Beane wrote the book. Shut up about the book unless you man-up and read it, you dummy.
Andrew (Hoboken, NJ): Hi Joe - Always a pleasure reading these chats. I was wondering what you thought about Robinson Cano's future development? He has shown he can put up some great power/rbi numbers for a second baseman.
Joe Morgan: He is one of the guys that since the first time I saw him play I knew he was a great player. I do not see him everyday, but for him to be a superstar he needs to keep a high level of concetration, and some people seem to think he does not always concetrate as much as he should.
KT: dak yelled at me for being too priggish in my assault on Mike Pagliarulo's grammar and syntax. But I have a for-reals question: does Joe think the word is "concetrate?"
Eric (NYC): It seems like there aren't any more "great" teams out there this year, just a lot of mediocrity. In your opinion, what was the last truly great team?
KT: Definitely a Joe-Baiter, I think. "There are no more great teams" is one of Joe's go-to nonsenses. Along with "Gary Sheffield is great," "They need to be consistent." "I am on the Hall of Fame Committee so I don't like to talk about who should and should not get into the Hall of Fame," and "Dave Concepcion should definitely be in the Hall of Fame."
Joe Morgan: It did not just start this year, it has been this way for a bit. A lot of good teams out there, but not many great teams. An great team has no weaknesses. All teams these days have weakensses, most of the time it is starting pitching. The last great teams I think were the Yankee teams that won all those titles. I think Boston, when they won the title were clsoe to beaing great. But I do not see any teams out there right now who I would call complete. The Yankees look great at times, but then they hit these big loosing streaks and that is not what great teams do. So I agree with you that there are not any great teams out there.
KT: Wonderful. A Gettysburg Address for a new generation. Bumbling, ramble-y, riddled with typos (sorry, dak), fact-less, nonsensical, exclusionary (didn't the 2002 Oakland A's win 103 games with some pretty good starting pitching?), halting, and bafflingly choppy. Well done, all-around.
Jerry (Red Bud, IL): Are the Cards officially out of it? Will this weekend's series with the Cubs only give them the ability to play spoiler?
Joe Morgan: I do not think anyone is out of it.
KT: Hear that, Astros?
And they are in a position where they have to sweep the Cubs, and Milwaukee has not been consistent, so if they can sweep the Cubs who knows what can happen.
The first "consistent" in the whole chat. He's improving.
The Cards have hot a rough spot but it is still not impossible. But going back to Yogi, you just never know.
All of Joe's answers could be pictorially represented by a picture of himself shrugging with the caption, "Who can tell?" Joe Morgan: Yesterday I was asked if A-Rod hits 62 home runs would he be considered, in my mind, the legitimate HR season record holder, because he would have done it without any suspicion of steroid use. My answer would be no. It is what it is, and those number that were put up by Bonds and McGwire are there. There has not been any proof about what these guys did, only speculation. So until there is proof I cannot take those numbers away from those guys.
KT: Grand jury testimony, delivered under oath, does not count as proof. Our judicial system has been upended.
Great chat today. I really enjoyed your questions. I am looking forward to next week, when maybe we can discuss this A-Rod question then.
KT: Why not discuss it now? You're already chatting now, why not--
I can't believe I didn't think of this, but Eric did:
A big part of Alou's higher OBP with RISP is intentional walks. Once you factor out those plate appearances, that .391 drops to .370 (against an adjusted career number of .361). However, Alou does have a much higher RBI rate with runners on base...
Also, Ron points out that I really meant "human" where I wrote "humanistic," so mea culpa, and thanks to Ron for holding me to the same standards to which I hold everyone else in the universe.
Alou's stats this year (sample size issues of course, since the man can no longer physically play a full season):
His stats this year with RISP? .221/.300/.397
RISP 2 out? .100/.229/.100
And the ever popular "Close and Late" .243/.300/.351
Despite a .313 EqA, his WPA for 2007 is an astounding -0.92 thanks to a recurring theme of double play balls served up in pretty much any situation with multiple runners on base. So what has happened to his clutchness in the 260 at bats he's had this year?