Gene Wojowhathaveyou on the complete surprise that rich teams can win: The Nation keeps annexing territory that once belonged to the Yankees. And with each championship, the Red Sox are reversing the conventional financial wisdom of the sport. Fat payrolls -- and the Red Sox have the second-fattest in the majors at $143 million -- can work if the people operating the wallet know what they're doing.
Italics, of course, are his. The notion that large payrolls are detrimental is one of the stupidest ideas that have been floating around baseball for a while, and that's saying something. I think it all stems from the wildly overbelieved belief that rich guys simply can't get along, so if you put them all in the same clubhouse, of course it will implode in on itself.
Hey, look: it turns out if you start winning, people love each other. And there is some correlation between how good a player is and how much money he makes.
Here's some more unconventional financial wisdom: more money will buy you a better house, not a shittier one. You're welcome.
Hey, it's football! Emmitt Smith, Brett Favre had one pretty good game. What's your take on SportsCenter tonight?
Brett Favre has taken very good care of himself and very good care of his arm. He has shown time in and week in and week out that he is the best quarterback that's on the football field today.
The best on the field...tonight? Or today as in today, everywhere in the world, including whichever supermodel's spaceship Tom Brady is sleeping in? Because tonight, okay, he was better than Jay Cutler. But in his first seven games, Favre has 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Through six, his QB rating (an imperfect, weirdly scaled tool, but still) was 87.0. Now granted, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady may have the numbers to show all those things, and last year was a suffering year for Brett Favre and the Packers, but this year is something different.
Yes. It is different. For Tom Brady. Who has 30 fucking touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a QB rating of 136.2 on the year. It's like he's 2006 Ben Sheets and touchdowns are strikeouts and interceptions are walks. Right? Anybody? Anybody?
Looking forward to the deluge of terrible A-Rod articles still to come.
HatGuy, Red Sox, Heyman, A-Rod, And Super Special Surprise Guest!
It's all happening at once, people. Let's savor this, the day after the final day of baseball, before we all begin obsessively following Memphis Grizzlies basketball and Columbus Blue Jackets hockey and Columphis Blue Grizzlies Lazyjokemashupball.
The Red Sox had generations of teams that were characterized by 25 players taking 25 cabs. No wonder they spent 86 years between championships. Now, they’ve won twice in four seasons by becoming a band of brothers who seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They have stars, but you think of them as a true team.
Of course! Fuck! Why'd they wait 86 years? Friends are what win in baseball! Friendshipball! Watch out, Red Sox. Your 2008 favorites for the championship: my uncle Steve and his friend Mike. So what if they're only two guys instead of twenty-five and Mike has a shriveled left arm and Steve drinks crystal meth dissolved in Mountain Dew Game Fuel, the Halo 3-themed Mountain Dew. They go deep-sea fishing on the weekends! They're friends!
Now let's readjust our monocles and look at the bread around this idiocy sandwich:
That’s why he won’t end up in Boston. The Red Sox had generations of teams that were characterized by 25 players taking 25 cabs. No wonder they spent 86 years between championships. Now, they’ve won twice in four seasons by becoming a band of brothers who seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They have stars, but you think of them as a true team. To add a person who has never had many friends in the clubhouses he’s inhabited doesn’t make sense.
Zero guesses as to whom HatGuy is referencing. Negative three guesses. Yep, you got it, and I took guesses away from you before you made any. There you have it. Not enough friends = no deal. I like the image of A-Rod calling up his old teammates, begging them to tell the Red Sox that yes indeed, I, Hank Blalock/Jay Buhner/Bobby Ayala/Hideki Irabu, was A-Rod's friend you better believe it.
I am undecided whether A-Rod will be worth the hundreds of millions of dollars he will be seeking, but the number of friends he has on Facebook will be low on my priority list.
The Red Sox disproved the old "crapshoot'' theory espoused by a lot of folks who keep losing in the playoffs. The best team won in 2007, and that is no fluke.
Look, I'm not losing in the playoffs. My favorite team isn't losing in the playoffs. Joe Torre has won a lot in the playoffs. Joe Torre often disagree, but he and I agree on two things: Top Chef is now more enjoyable than Project Runway and as long as the series remain as brief as they are, the playoffs are distinctly, perversely crapshootish. The best team probably won in 2007, but how about just last year? 83-78 sound right to you, Jon? Was that a fluke?
And finally, we grow closer to the emergence of our special guest star for the evening, who appears courtesy of Bob DiCesare:
Rodriguez appeared in the American League Championship Series twice with the Mariners, once with the Yanks, and distinguished himself in none of the three.
Exactly right. None of the three except for the first two, in which he slugged .773 and .516 and slammed a combined 4 HR and 10 RBI. And hey, in that last one he OBP-ed .353 and hit a horrible, team-damaging solo home run.
One number echoes within the mountains of glorious statistics compiled by Rodriguez throughout his career:
13.7, his earth-shattering WARP3!
zero, his number of accrued World Series at-bats.
Fact is, the Yankees are in far greater need of a Scott Brosius, a Bernie Williams, a Paul O’Neill than an uninspired (and uninspiring) A-Rod.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Brosius nostalgia tour continues. May his glorious name live on throughout the offseason and for all offseasons throughout eternity!
Ah, two weeks ago. The nation was young and innocent. The Patriots were a mere 5-0 instead of a dominant 7-0. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was soaring at just above 14,000 instead of struggling at just below 14,000. And the Arizona Diamondbacks were losing to the Colorado Rockies because of their woeful inexperience:
After spending most of the playoffs looking like seasoned contenders, the Arizona Diamondbacks are showing their age.
Arizona's 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday night left the Diamondbacks in a 2-0 hole as the best-of-seven NL championship series heads to Denver.
The young Diamondbacks won't admit it, but their lack of postseason experience may be catching up to them.
Thank you, AP writer Andrew Bagnato. Flash forward to today. The Comebacks has been released, changing the way America sees sports spoof movies. Viva Laughlin has revolutionized the way we think about musical-dramedies set in Laughlin. And the Colorado Rockies are losing to the Boston Red Sox because of their woeful inexperience:
But, on baseball's biggest stage, Colorado has choked.
And that would mean the Rockies are guilty of nothing more than being human.
The Red Sox have been there, done that and got the T-shirts as a reminder of their championship experience.
What's the difference between the clutch hits delivered by Boston third baseman Mike Lowell and the runners stranded by Colorado counterpart Garrett Atkins? It's not talent. It's experience.
Kudos, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. It truly takes a man of courage to blame the Rockies' inexperience after a game in which one Boston rookie goes 4-5 with three doubles, two runs and two RBI, another goes 3-5 with a run and two RBI, and a third gets the win and two RBI of his own.
Colorado has swung the bat so anxiously and thrown so many mistake pitches to think anything except that their hearts are beating too fast. It's a natural overreaction by players in the World Series.
Sure, heartbeat overclocking could be a factor. Also a factor: Josh the Dragonslaying Mediocrity Fogg has ERAs of 4.94, 5.49 and 5.05 the past three years. Not a great pitcher. Ubaldo Jimenez, over six years of minor league play, had a BB/9 rate of 4.47. He was lucky to only give up two runs after yielding eight baserunners in 4.2 innings. Bit much to expect of him to both regulate the speed of his heartbeat and keep the walk-happy Sox from clogging up the basepaths when he couldn't really even do that to minor league hitters.
Yeah, the hitting's been bad. But does experience alone explain why Troy Tulowitzki's hitting .333 while Garrett Atkins is sitting at .100? Or can we just agree that it's an infinitesimal sample size and the Red Sox are, on balance, probably just a little bit better at baseball, not just at slowhearting?
Nope, we can't. If the Red Sox lose tonight, the blame will fall squarely on that inexperienced pre-rookie asshole Tacoby Bellsbury.
As Guillen talked Tuesday about the additions of third-base coach Jeff Cox and bullpen coach Juan Nieves to his staff, he emphasized the Sox will change their preparation radically in an effort to improve dramatically from their 90-loss season.
"You're going to see a lot of crazy stuff in spring training, regardless of the baserunning," Guillen said during a conference call.
Let me just say that Ozzie Guillen is pretty clearly already crazy, based on the quotations you will find if you search for his name on this blog. So when he says, "You're going to see a lot of crazy stuff in spring training," he's basically saying he's going to like drive a Volvo onto the field in the middle of the game, and dress his players up like '30s gangsters, and maybe have guys run right across the mound to second on grounders to the infield, and possibly like fire guns in the air during pre-game pepper drills.
"You're going to see hit-and-run [plays] when it's not a hit-and-run situation. You're going to see people bunting when it's not a bunting situation.
That...that is awesome. A guy who already loves to do two stupid things -- bunt and hit-and-run -- is now telling us that he is going to start doing these things more. Doing them when the situation doesn't even "call" for them. This is the equivalent of saying, "I'm going to start intentionally walking guys with runners on first and second with no outs after an 0-2 count." Or: "I am going to buy extended warranties from Circuit City for products I didn't even purchase."
"Maybe people are going to criticize me for the way we're playing in spring training, but we have to go with a different approach. In spring training we're going to turn the switch on right away."
Someone should remind Dumb-Dumb here that the 2005 team that won the WS was 4th in the league in HR, first in caught-stealings, and had four great starters and a fantastically over-performing bullpen. They did not win because they didn't bunt enough. They won despite how much they bunted and foolishly got caught stealing. Ozzie Guillen is a moron.
Even before Guillen fired Razor Shines and hired Cox to take over, he hinted at such changes.
Cox, 51, will take on more duties in overseeing the bunting and hit-and-run drills, along with former major-league manager Buddy Bell, who was named director of minor league instruction and will help implement the emphasis on bunting and situational hitting at all levels.
Someone in Chicago needs to stop these people. They are dooming this franchise to another 100 years of title-less baseball.
Guillen worked with Cox for three seasons in Montreal and Florida (2001-03) but became impressed with Cox's work in Kansas City in 1995 and said his upbeat personality could fulfill the humor that was missing last year when goofy bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee returned to South Korea.
Reasons the White Sox Stunk Last Year: aging players, injuries, bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching, too much bunting, too much dumb strategy, not enough good hitters.
Not a Reason the White Sox Stunk Last Year: humor void caused by goofy bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee returning to South Korea.
Cox played in 61 games with Oakland in 1980-81. He put down 11 sacrifice bunts in 59 games with the Athletics in 1980, including four squeeze bunts.
Yup. That's the dude you want instructing your hitters. The guy who hit .213/.273/.231 with a 45 OPS+.
The Sox have been lacking in executing hitting fundamentals over the last two seasons. They struck out 1,149 times in 2006 and their .318 on-base percentage was the worst in the majors.
The strikeouts are meaningless. The 2004 Red Sox led the league in Ks and won the World Series. Philly, Colorado, and Cleveland were all in the top 7 in MLB in Ks this year and they all made the playoffs. It's the OBP you should worry about. You know what doesn't increase a team OBP? Sac bunts, dumbasses.
"I'm tired of being afraid to put on the hit-and-run because we don't know if we're going to put it in play," Guillen said. "I'm tired of striking out.
Hey -- I have an idea. Don't put on the hit-and-run.
Guillen warned everyone not to be surprised if A.J. Pierzynski is laying down a bunt or executing a hit-and-run in spring training, and that even the core hitters (Paul Konerko, Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye) will be asked to work on situational hitting.
You seriously want to try to make Jim Thome try to move runners over with ground balls? You want to make Paul Konerko go the other way, instead of letting him just do his thing? Really? That's your solution? Trying to strip your only power hitters of their power? What else you got in store for the off-season, genius? You going to sign David Eck--
The Sox could give [SS Juan] Uribe a $300,000 buyout and attempt to re-sign him if they fail to land a free agent like David Eckstein, who can bat leadoff and play shortstop, or fail to trade for a younger shortstop.
"Guillen worked with Cox for three seasons in Montreal and Florida (2001-03) but became impressed with Cox's work in Kansas City in 1995"
In 1995, the Kansas City Royals finished last in the AL in runs scored, home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS+. They had the second-worst OBP. Maybe they bunted the ball really really well, I don't know.
The Yankees have about three weeks left to decide how much Alex Rodriguez is worth to them. This is what they should do: Let him go if he wants to go.
Sure. That's an option. Absolutely. No question, they could do this, and there is probably an argument in favor of doing it, if the Yankees wish to go in a different direction (that direction = "worse.")
.355 EqA 54 HR .314/.422/.645
Please replace that at third. Or even when spread out over a number of different positions. Especially when you are about to lose Posada's numbers (even if he stays, the dude has to act his age eventually, right?) and maybe Abreu's, and your best option at first is Shelley Duncan (please please please please keep Shelley Duncan at first. Please. I beg you. It will be so funny if you think Shelley Duncan can be an everyday first baseman. Please.)
By now you know the deal about his deal. The Yankees say that if Rodriguez exercises a contractual right to become a free agent within 10 days after the World Series ends, then they will tell him not to let the clubhouse door at Yankee Stadium hit him in the exact same place where he and the Yankees have ended up in October since he came to town.
The Yankees have ended up...in ARod's ass?
Because here is the question, not just for Yankee fans, but for any good sports fan of the city of New York: How much do YOU think A-Rod is worth?
Well, now, that's a good question. He is probably worth more to the Yankees and their new stadium than he is to anyone else, because they can pay any amount of money they want, and because he is the best hitter in baseball, and because of their other free agents. I would say he is probably worth $30m+ per year to the Yankees. How much do you think he's worth, Lupy?
At a time when A-Rod and his bagman, Scott Boras - who loves the sound of his own voice lately the way Mother Teresa loved the poor - want the Yankees or somebody else to invest more money in him per season than any ballplayer in history, how invested are YOU in A-Rod's future?
A lot, and I'm a Red Sox fan. Imagine the difference between a line-up with him and without him. Without him = Smiles Times for me.
Boras, the agent, is one of the great buttoned-down phonies of baseball in this way: Every time he has a big client looking for the biggest possible money, he talks about organizations and relationships and "dynamics." Boras is huge on dynamics. But everybody who knows his record and his client's record knows that the only dynamic here is the most money.
Scott Boras: hate the player, love the game. He's an agent for God's sake. What is he supposed to do? Give the other side a break? Compromise? What kind of agent would he be if he didn't try to maximize the amount of money his clients get paid? Answer: he would be a "bad" agent.
This is not about loyalty to the Yankees, or Yankee tradition - and doesn't have to be, by the way. Boras is a businessman and A-Rod is a businessman and they can shoot for the moon again, the way they did with the Texas Rangers seven years ago when he became a free agent the first time.
Correct. What point are you making?
Just don't suggest, even for a New York minute, that this has anything to do with who the next manager of the Yankees is. Rodriguez couldn't care less as long as he gets paid $30 million a year or $35 million a year or whatever he and Boras are looking for.
Refresher course: he gets $27m next year, of which the Yankees pay about $16m if he stays. Then he gets 32m in 2009 and '10. So, he's going to get that money. Either way. And I do think that a guy like ARod does care a little about the constitution of the franchise for which he plays. Doesn't everyone? A little?
This is about getting paid. Or A-Rod was just passing through here the way Hillary Clinton was.
Ha ha! Screw Hilary. She's a chick. What does a chick know about anything? Nothing, that's what. Carpetbagger. Just like ARod...who waived his no-trade to come to New York and changed positions and will have won two MVPs in four years and lifted up the entire team and heaved it into the playoffs pretty much all by himself when he was the only dude on the team hitting a lick in the first few months of the season. Carpetbagger!
Understand: If the Yankees allow him to break the Bank of Steinbrenner as a way of keeping him away from free agency, they are not just saying that he stays on as their third baseman and cleanup man and top run producer. It is so much more than that, both realistically and symbolically.
You cannot break the Bank of Steinbrenner. The Bank of Steinbrenner made a $10m investment a few years ago that is now worth well north of a billion dollars. The Bank of Steinbrenner is bottomless. It's like Scrooge McDuck's gold coin-filled pool.
Pay A-Rod this way and they are officially making him the centerpiece of their franchise and the face of their franchise for the next decade.
It won't be Derek Jeter, won't be the new manager and won't be Joba Chamberlain.
Derek Jeter is a mediocre defensive SS who's turning 34 next year and whose HR totals have dropped for four straight years. The next manager is going to fill out line-up cards and answer questions from dummies like you, but that's about it. Joba Chamberlain appears to be very very good, but he's either going to be converted to a starter (and he's had arm problems in the past) or he's going to throw about 50 innings next year. Alex Rodriguez should be the centerpiece of the franchise. Because he's the best hitter in baseball.
It will be A-Rod, who puts up huge numbers except at the time of year when the greatness of the New York Yankees has been grandly defined. Bucky Dent has a more impressive October résumé with one swing.
Bucky Dent, career, postseason:
23-83, two extra-base hits. .277/.310/.301. (.301 SLG!)
ARod, career, postseason:
41-147, 16 XBH (including 7 HR). .279/.361/.483. Even with several far-below-average series in a row now, the guy is so much better than Bucky Dent in the postseason it's like comparing apples to turds.
People say A-Rod's not the only one who let the Yankees down. He's not. But he's the guy routinely called the best player in the game, the one who's supposed to break the all-time home run record someday, the one who is obsessed, along with Boras, with breaking contract records.
The bar is supposed to be set higher for him.
This is fair. The bar should be set higher for him, and in that way, yes, he has been a disappointment. But he would not have been able to disappoint people if he weren't the best player in baseball, because if he weren't the best player in baseball, the Yankees wouldn't have gotten to the postseason. The Yankees won the WC by 6 games over Seattle. ARod was worth 13.7 wins to his team. If Casey Blake (a pretty good third baseman) and his 6.3 WARP were the Yankees' third baseman, the Mariners take the WC. Same with the 1999 or 2000 version of Scott Brosius.
We keep hearing how "random" the playoffs are. Hear it about the outgoing manager especially. Well, somebody down in Tampa asked this question to Joe Torre the other day, and it was a pretty good one if you ask me: How come we never heard about how random things were in the playoffs until the Yankees stopped winning them?
Because you were writing about how magnificent and calm-eyed and wonderiferous and scrumtrellescent the Yankees were. (You also weren't writing about their pitching.) You were writing about Jeter and Mr. November and The Flip and all kinds of stuff that you attributed to Derek Jeter being a Winner. You weren't writing about how Jeter went .211/.318/.211 in the "Flip" series against the A's in 2000***, or 2-17 (.118/.200/.118) in the 2001 ALCS against the Mariners or 4-27 (148/.179/.259) in the World Series against the DBacks (when he was dubbed "Mr. November, BTW). Because they were winning, for a lot of other reasons. Like pitching. And the biggest reason the Yankees lost to the Indians this year was Chien Ming Wang. It was not ARod. ARod is like sixth. And #5 is: bugs. Tell me that shit isn't random.
The Red Sox are in the same random, crapshoot playoffs and have now gotten off the deck and come back from 3-0 down and 3-1 down in the last four years, and which of A-Rod's Yankee teams do you think were capable of that?
Josh Beckett. Curt Schilling. The bullpen. Some lucky bounces. Good hitting. The fact that it was a longer series. All of these things were factors.
The Red Sox were able to do this because their biggest stars - David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez - stepped up to the plate in all ways.
Ortiz was 1-9 with a walk in the last two games.
Now A-Rod wants to be paid as if he's indispensable, because the Yankees wouldn't have made it to the playoffs this year without him. True enough. Here's something else that is true: They sure don't make the World Series very much with him on their side.
Causality takes another beating. Jeez. They also haven't won very many World Series with Jason Giambi on the roster. Or Mike Mussina. Or Robby Cano. Or with George W. as President. Or ever since Woody Allen started using Scarlett Johansson in his movies.
It is why the Yankees should absolutely call his bluff about opting out. If he really wants to go, let him.
I'm guessing this is the last one. If so, it was a helluva ride. Can you believe it was just a few short months ago that we first had a 2007 JoeChat? Best of luck, seniors!
Joe Morgan: It was a very good ALCS going seven games, however, there were not many close games besides the 4-2 Indians win.
Ken Tremendous: How about Game 2, that went 11 innings? The final was not close, but the game was won in extra innings. How about Game 7, wherein the Sox were barely hanging on to a 3-2 lead in the 7th when Kenny Lofton was inexplicably held up at 3rd on a ball Manny Ramirez was probably planning to lob back to second? That was a close game. Game Five was 2-1 through six. So that's four out of seven games I would describe as "close," or at least "tense."
The one thing I learned is that Boston is a better team than they appeared to be when the series first started.
You mean, better than a team that had co-led the majors in wins and swept the ALDS and won Game 1 10-3? What are you even talking about?
Trent (Cleveland): I must admit I am disappointed with the Indians ultimate demise, how can I not be with a 3-1 lead in the ALCS, but what do you forsee over the next few seasons for the tribe? I think we are in great shape.
Joe Morgan: Well anytime you get to Game 7 of the ALCS you are in good shape, and they learned a lot from this series. But you have to rememeber, baseball is a sport that you cannnot just say wait till next year, because that can become the battle cry for years. But I think Cleveland is a very good team, and along with Boston one of the top 2 teams in the AL.
KT: "Rememeber" is the new "concetrate." He makes that typo a lot. Also, your hard-earned entertainment dollars are helping to pay the salary of a man who declares the ALCS runner-up as "one of the top 2 teams in the AL."
Jason (DC): Joe -- can the Rockies overcome the 8 day layoff (and the snow)? Seems like it could be a challenge to bring the proper concetration and consistency, after their break.
KT: Ahhhh, Jason. Concetration and consistency. Bless you.
Joe Morgan: The long layoff is a big challenge which they could not control. What they need is for two or three guys to step up in Boston to help the team get their timing back. It is a huge challenge, however, especially with what a roll they were on.
I would like a video demonstration of the proper way to "step up in order to help one's team get its timing back." What would that entail, I wonder? What kind of non-baseball-related sorcery is this? What kind of b'witchèd blacke magik must one conjure? Or are you just saying: "Some guys need to hit well?" In which case: why didn't you just say that?
Kyle (NJ): Hey Joe, can the Brewers win the Central next year?
Joe Morgan: Well they could have wonn it this year! But the Brewers played as poorly as the Cubs and did not make it. I think they can win it next year, but they need to be more consistent.
Bingo bango bongo! Congratulations, everyone. This is the fifty millionth use of "consistent" in JoeChat history. Everyone on this blog gets a free dozen donuts, compliments of our friends at Dunkin' Donuts.
That horrible stretch this season cost them the division. But I do expect them to be one of the main challengers. But with Baker in Cincinnati I expect the Reds to be in the mix as well.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): Can the Rockies stop Josh Beckett? What do the hitters have to do to get to a player that has been lights out this postseason?
Joe Morgan: Well the Rockies have more good hitters/consistent hitters than Cleveland. I think the Rockies lineup will be a little tougher for Beckett, but he is and ace and can beat anyone.
KT: 50,000,001 for "consistent." And I guess "what they have to do" to get to Beckett is: "...?"
Aaron (houston): What do the 'stros need to do to get back on track next year?
Joe Morgan: Well they need offense. Their offense made the pitching look worse than it was. They had no consistency in that lineup outside of Lee.
They need to be able to score runs consistently.
50,000,003. This is exciting!
Hugh (WPB, Florida): How exciting is Dustin Pedroia?? Do you see a little bit of yourself in the way he plays? I think he can be a very consistent hitter for years to come.
KT: Sorry, Hugh. This nice bit of JoeBaiting comes too late. He's already consistency'd out.
Jason (DC): Joe -- with a fully healed Gary Sheffield and all the other big guns coming back, will Detroit dethrone Cleveland in the AL Central next year?
KT: Gary Sheffield, who makes Joe Morgan's heart race like no other, is going to be 39 next year. He's coming off his worst season in years -- possibly ever -- one that was filled with injuries. One might -- were one thinking clearly -- be tempted to suggest that the key to the AL Central race next year (a race that features Carmona, Sabathia, Verlander, Bonderman, Sizemore, Martinez, Polanco, Zumaya, Betancourt, Hafner, Guillen, et al.) does not really depend all that much on Gary Sheffield and his 12.9 VORP.
Joe Morgan: It is hard to say, but Detroit with Sheffield is a much better team. I think that is a very good question, but you never know in basbeall. A team may emerge out of nowhere. But yes, Detroit and Cleveland at the moment have to be the favorites if everyone is healthy.
One might also be tempted, were one Joe Morgan to write: "Hard to say...good question...you never know...some other team might also be good...but given certain conditions..."
Ed (Boston): Joe what did you think of the Red Sox coming back from a 3-1 defecit?
Joe Morgan: It was not as dramatic as the 3-0 comaeback against the Yankees. But when I was in Boston, earlier there was a feeling amongst the fans that Boston would win. That feeling was felt by the players as well. They beat Sabbathia and Carmona to get back, and when you beat two aces like that it says a lot about your team. Beckett beat Sabathia on his own.
Josh Beckett's hitting stats against C.C. Sabathia in Game Five: 10-29, 2 BB, 1 HR. Hell of an effort at the plate from Josh Beckett.
Beckett had nothing to do with beating Sabathia. He beat the other guys on the team. That is how baseball works.
Craig (Richmond): Joe what does Cleveland need in order to take them to that next level, ie and World Series birth?
Joe Morgan: They were one game from that next level, so they do not need to do too much... They do not need to make a lot of moves, they just need to learn how to close out a series.
KT: There's a class you can take for that at the Y, I think. Should be no problem. I might also recommend trying to trade for another starter, maybe, or looking to replace Kenny Lofton, or moving Betancourt to the closer/relief ace role and picking up or developing another reliever. But definitely the most important thing is to take that class on how to close out a series. Because most people just think you need to win the fourth game, but there's a lot more to it than that, and this class will teach you everything. It's like $349/person but it's totally worth it.
Joe Morgan: I have to run. But enjoy the Game1!
KT: Those of you who spend a lot of time on the internet know that it is very common for excited people accidentally to type the numeral 1 when ending a sentence, often mixed in with exclamation points. (Ex. "OMG Zac Efron is the dreamiest!!1!!!1!!!!!") My question is: was Joe typing "Enjoy the Game" and accidentally typed the "1" as if he were a young girl talking about Zac Efron, or did he write "Enjoy the Game 1!" and forget to leave a space?
This is a question I will spend all day trying to figure out.
DM: What is it like to hit a game-deciding homer in the World Series?
TM: It's numbing more than anything else. You're almost aesthetically going around the bases.
Maybe he meant "almost anaesthetically," but even that doesn't really make sense. Just a strange thing to say. "Almost aesthetically" does have a certain aesthetic appeal. Does this count as alliteration?
A lot of funny/sad McCarver moments last night. There was the time he asserted confidently that Josh Beckett had retired six batters in a row -- no, wait, it's been ten. Apologies, it was nine. Very soon after that, he talked about how impressed he was about Beckett's low pitch count even with his high strikeout total -- 63 pitches! No, wait, it's 73 (the graphic had just appeared on screen -- and by the time he corrected himself, hey, it was 74 already). There was the seemingly endless digression on the impressiveness of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all during a close ALCS elimination game.
But perhaps nothing encapsulates the inanity of the broadcast more than the keys to the game:
RED SOX: WIN OR SEE YOU IN FORT MYERS
INDIANS: FINISH THE JOB... NO TRIP BACK TO BOSTON
You see, baseball laypeople, take it from me, Tim McCarver, a baseball expert: the key to winning the game is to win the game. Here is my reasoning: I will tell you the cities to which these teams will travel if they do not win the game.
Torre > Brosius? It cannot be. I will not hear such blasphemy, Sir Buster.
Look, Joe Torre seems like a good enough guy. Grandfatherly mien, reassuring eyes, a calm, arms-folded presence in the dugout. No obvious assholish tendencies. Sure, we're all emotional about his departure. I ask you, though, Buster Olney, when you wake up one year from now, will you still really believe this paragraph? How about five years? Fifty?
I always will believe that during the 1996-2001 dynasty, Mariano Rivera was the only uniformed member of the organization more important to the Yankees' success than Torre. They could not have won so much without him, and it remains to be seen if any Yankee manager can ever be as successful or as adept as Joe Torre.
Oh. "Always." You will always believe that no player besides Mariano Rivera was more valuable than Joe Torre. Seriously, when Derek Jeter retires, are you really going to write that, hey, Jetes was a pretty sweet shortstop, but he was no Joe Torre when it comes to winning baseball games? If you had a crazy combo draft of players and managers in 2001, are you really taking Torre over Derek Fucking Fitzgerald Jeter, God of Baseball and Winner of Life?
I'm sorry. This is a heartfelt piece by Buster. He's emotional. There's stuff in there about fatherly pats on the cheek (his words, not mine) and cancer and Scott Brosius' dying dad that I'm not even going to touch. Buster, I understand that you know the man and that you empathize with him. You spent time with him. You know more about Joe Torre the person than everyone reading this blog except for Don Mattingly (hi, Don!). But you can honor Joey T-Bones without resorting to this kind of run of the mill, knee-jerk, Baseball Tonight Bold Prediction-type sports-writing/-commentary hyperbole.
And let's take a step back. Again, we're all sad. Torre is leaving. Stand-up guy. Might be a bad decision for the club. But we're talking about a situation where you're feeling misty-eyed for a guy who's turning down a five million dollar base salary because it is a fucking insult to him. Five million dollars. And he's not hitting 97-mph Josh Beckett fastballs or spearing Curtis Granderson laser beams. He's not doing something that only a select few hundred human beings have the physical and mental capacity to do. He's choosing what order to write down names in a lineup (sometimes poorly). He's deciding when to put a relief pitcher in a game (often incorrectly).
Managing is easier than playing.
Which brings us to value, or as Buster frames it, "importance." Mariano Rivera: extremely important. Thanks for the concession, Buster. And now, a smattering of stats from some of the players who helped the Yankees win four championships in five years. I'm not saying that Joe Torre didn't contribute. I bet he did. Some. But these guys effing played the games.
Tino Martinez, 1996-2001: 175 HR Derek Jeter, 1996-2001: 1187 hits Bernie Williams, 1996-2001: 6 consecutive years of OPS+s over 131 Andy Pettitte, 1996-2001: 1274 2/3 IP, ranging from good to outstanding Paul O'Neill, 1996-2001: 604 RBI
And these are just some of the really good guys. The list, honestly, is endless. Forget these guys. Forget even the regulars: the Brosiuses, the Knoblauchs, the Stantons. How about Chili Davis' 476 okay at bats at DH? At least he got hits and scored runs. Hideki Irabu sucked, but at least he got some outs.
The much belabored point is this: Joe Torre managed supertalented teams for a super long time in a super overexposed media market. For that he is a saint in the eyes of many. But he is a human man, a man who was an okay to pretty good baseball manager doing a job that probably a fair number of other people might have been fine doing as well. Baseball managers do not play the game. They do not have as much influence on the outcome of the game as say, football coaches or Ramiro Mendozas. Search your pinstripe-tattooed soul. You know this to be true.
Now excuse me while I finish crying about Joe's departure. I started several days ago and am not ready to stop just yet.
For a while now, ESPN has been trying to tap into some sort of long tail/Web 2.0/wikiality Internet community thing with ESPN Conversation (superscript Beta), a feature that allows readers to comment on certain ESPN news stories. What's the problem? There are many. The overall level of discourse in the comments is quite low. I'm assuming ESPN is perpetrating some sort of censorship, since they're a site run by The Man and can't allow delicate sensibilities to be offended. And to make matters worse, the Worldwide Leader has recently begun trumpeting ESPN Conversation (superscript Beta) with a rather large box on the ESPN frontpage wherein a Featured Comment, presumably one hand-picked from a pool of thousands for its originality, thoughtfulness, humor, and/or analytical value, proudly displays itself in 24-point sans-serif font.
The current Featured Comment reads, unabridged, as follows:
"Torre just turned down the Yankees' one-year deal. Holy cow!" --saltydog0007
This is taking up three square inches of my web life. This is Internet Three Point One Million. America, this is you (sung to the tune of America's Funniest Home Videos theme song).
I know it's hard to be thought-provoking in ten words or less. It's hard to be thorough. It's hard to say anything even remotely of interest. But surely there is a) one comment, or two, or even three, of more substance and sustenance than saltydog0007's "Holy cow!" and b) if, in fact, there is not, then perhaps ESPN should rethink dedicating valuable frontpage space to complete and utter non-ideas in gigantic fonts instead of, may I suggest, even more automatically-loading videos that I don't wish to watch.
Let's break it down. The first seven (or eight, if you count "one-year" as two words) words of saltydog0007's comment merely summarize a news story that already sits in the glorious Front and Center Top Story Box, adorned with the pithy headline "Joe Says No!" I've already read and enjoyed reading "Joe Says No!" I understand what it means and I appreciate the rhyme scheme and aforementioned pith of the headline. Then my eyes scan downwards and to the right, and there I find it -- another re-summary of this very same article, but this time more than twice as long and less than half as rhyme-y!
And then: "Holy cow"? "Holy cow"?! I will now list two-word phrases I would've rather read following the seven- (or eight-) word rehash of a news story that I've clearly already gotten wind of from further up on the very same page, and I will not stop until I get bored (not likely!).
What a week. Mrs. Tremendous and I moved last Sunday, to a slightly larger house right outside Partidge, KS, in South Hutchinson. The friendly confines of Partridge were a little too confining...because Mrs. Tremendous is expecting! That's right, friends. It is my great joy to announce that Mrs. Tremendous is with child, and that little Timothy McCarver Joseph Morgan HatBoy Tremendous will arrive in our world sometime next Spring. I am as proud as a basement-dwelling Insurance Pension Plan Monitor can be.
But back to what's really important: this blog. In my distracted absence, I have neglected my duties, and that ends today. Let's check in with Joe, as he checks in with his perpetually-confused readers.
Joe Morgan: It's been a very unusual postseason, with all the sweeps. They surprised me because most of the teams were evenly matched. It just tells how a bounce here and there or a call here or there can change everything.
Ken Tremendous: Please remember that when you talk about how important wins are as a pitching stat.
Jon (Audubon, NJ): What should the Rockies concetrate on over the next 9 days until the World Series starts?
KT: Oh, Jon. Your use of "concetrate" warms my heart.
Joe Morgan: It's going to be difficult to stay sharp, because hitting is something you need to keep your timing on. It's difficult to do because unless you're facing game action, it's tough to keep your timing. Intrasquad games don't do it very well because there is not the same intensity. It's probably easier for pitchers to stay sharp. In any case, it'll be difficult for them to stay at the level they're playing at now.
KT: Possibly. Also, their pitchers get a ton of rest and they can travel comfortably and have won 20 out or 21 or something, so they're sitting kind of pretty, I'd say. Who knows. What do you guys think of "Plaschke" as a first name?
Jug (Benicia): Which team has the best home field advantage Joe? Rockies, Red Sox or Indians? Each park is so unique?
Joe Morgan: I would say the Red Sox and Rockies because of the way the game is played in their parks. Fenway has the Green Monster, which they take advantage of, and balls fly out of Coors, so positioning is important. Those ballparks confer a unique advantage to the home team.
KT: Balls fly out of Coors Field...so positioning is important. It is important to position the outfielders in the left field bleachers. Then they can catch those balls. Also, the Indians, Red Sox, Rockies, and D-Backs had nearly identical home-away records this year. For what it's worth.
Seth (Denver, CO): Mr. Morgan, how do you feel about the Rockies current run compared to what you and the Reds accomplished in '76? Even as a Rockies fan I must admit the Reds' run in the playoffs, at least to this point, is more impressive, but do you see similarities in how the Rox have handled themselves during this streak and the great Reds' team that went undefeated in the postseason?
KT: How is Joe going to claim that being 6.5 out on Sep. 15th and 2 out with 2 to play and then winning a one-game playoff and sweeping two postseason series is not as impressive than what the 1976 Reds did? Let's find out!
Joe Morgan: I have to say that the Rockies' streak is very impressive, because in my opinion, a lot of the teams that they played were equally matched up against them. To win seven games against teams that are your equal is more impressive than what the Reds did, because that team set a lot of records and were "the team". The only other difference would be that the Rockies did it against teams they were familiar with.
Ah. Very clever. He says that the 1976 Reds were so good that nothing they did was really impressive because they were just so damn good.
Jeremy (Blacksburg, VA): how long do you think the game will be between slow pitching byrd and wakefield?
Joe Morgan: I don't think it'll be five hours and fifteen minutes, but obviously it will not be played at a fast pace. Wakefield will throw a lot of pitches, will walk some guys, and let up some steals, and Byrd will pitch carefully. It will not be a faster-paced game like last night's was.
KT: Time of game: 3:12. Time of previous game: 3:28. Why do people keep insisting that Wakefield is a slow pitcher?
Ryan (San Francisco): These Sox are killing me. Their offense is just not playing consistent baseball. Maybe they should stop trying to blast HR's and try a little small ball. With the number of guys in that lineup who could potentially reach Coopertown one day, there is not excuse to only get two runs off of Westbrook.
KT: Oh, Ryan. Such lovely Joe-baiting. Coopertown. Small ball. Maybe I'm just emotional because my wife has produced an heir to the Tremendous family name, but...God love ya!
Joe Morgan: I talked to David Ortiz yesterday, and this reflects back to the question about the Rockies and their 9-day layoff. David Ortiz told me they'd only played five games in 14 days. That doesn't keep you sharp as a hitter, although he's hit the ball as hard as possible each time. That could be part of the problem, having that many layoffs of games in between. They'll have another off day after today. It will be a problem for the Rockies as well.
KT: Indians don't seem to be having a problem. Maybe it's...good pitching? Nah.
Pete (Miami): Is Todd Helton a Hall of Fame player?
Joe Morgan: A Hall of Fame player is supposed to be the dominant player at your position during your era, so you could answer the question yourself using that criteria. Has he been the dominant first baseman in his era?
KT: I'm thinking Joe means: no, he is not. Now, Helton is only 33, and obviously the next few years will tell us yea or nay. But his career line is .332/.430/.583, and his career EqA is .315, and he's an excellent fielder. I'd say he has a decent shot. How about "Big Red Machine Tremendous?" Is that good?
Brosef (NJ): Is Kaz Matsui this years David Eckstein in the playoffs?
Joe Morgan: Any time you go into the playoffs or World Series, guys who are unheralded have a chance to stand out more, because they will pitch to them more. David Ortiz has walked a lot of times, for instance, so they will not pitch to him like they will to a guy like Kaz Matsui.
KT: For the last time, (not really), David Eckstein is heralded. He's wildly heralded. Everyone in the sports journalism world heralds David Eckstein. He is actually way way over-heralded. How else can a guy who was 8-41 with 2 extra-base hits in the 2006 NLDS and NLCS emerge from that postseason and be considered a clutch playoff hitter?
Andrew (Toledo): Does Ryan have a counting problem, I only see one sure fire bet for the Hall from the Sox (Manny) and one maybe (Ortiz). Is the Red Sox lineup overrated?
Joe Morgan: I'm starting to wonder if a lot of lineups are overrated during the regular season. The Yankees scored tons of runs not just this year, but last year as well, and they got shut down in the playoffs both years.
KT: You think the Yankees' line-up was overrated? Seriously? How? How can that be? They had seven regulars score 90+ runs. They led the league in runs. They led the league in hits. They led the league in HR and were 3rd in walks. They led the league in OBP, SLG, and thus OPS, and OPS+. They hadn't seen Carmona or Sabathia at all during the regular season***, and lost a best-of-five series to those dudes, and your conclusion is that the Yankee offense is overrated?!
Mike, Brunswick Ohio: Who do you think wins? Cleveland or Boston?
Joe Morgan: The edge goes to Cleveland, because I think their pitching is set up better than Boston's is.
And because when you wrote this they were up 2-1 in the series.
Jon (Audubon, NJ): Why do some players like Eric Byrnes get a pass when they have a bad series because they play the game hard, but guys like Alex Rodriguez get blasted by the fans and media for not being clutch? Shouldnt all players be judged the same way, as one series is such a small sample size of overall performance?
KT: Jon, you're insane. Take this "logic" and shove it, friend. Leave baseball analysis to the experts, and go look at some birds or something. Am I right?
Joe Morgan: Unfortunately, the world is not fair, and baseball is the same way. If you look at it another way, Jeter was three for 17 and grounded into three key doubles plays, but there's nothing said about him because he's done well before. You're right; Byrnes and the other players should be judged the same way on a series-by-series basis, but it's not the way of the world. Personally, I think all players play hard, especially in the playoffs, but players like Byrnes, who I like a lot, have effort that is easier to see than someone else's.
I'm suspicious. I don't think Joe wrote this. I think he had a coughing fit and Rob Neyer snuck into the booth or something.
Joe Morgan: The one thing I have noticed is that I don't think the umpiring has been as consistent in these few games that I've seen. I'm not used to it being this inconsistent. The umpring has been a little erratic in the games that I've seen, though I have not seen each and every game. Even some of the calls on the bases have not been consistent. Thanks for your questions!
If this is the last JoeChat of the year, I am very glad that we got a send-off with three "consistents" in one paragraph. At least he's consistent.
Also, by "consistent" here, I think he means "accurate."
You people, that is. It's only been a couple of hours, but of course we've been deluged with e-mails from good citizens who've bothered to do some work instead of just making fun of our friend Timothy like we typically do around here.
Using retrosheet data from 2000-2006 and a couple of quickie programs (written in ten minutes) to parse the data, we see the following result (best viewed in fixed font). This is for all of MLB combined; I didn't bother to separate out AL and NL:
2000: 1139 Leadoff HR => 294 2+ run innings, 25.81% 2705 Leadoff BB => 622 2+ run innings, 22.99%
2001: 1026 Leadoff HR => 247 2+ run innings, 24.07% 2238 Leadoff BB => 473 2+ run innings, 21.13%
2002: 1015 Leadoff HR => 229 2+ run innings, 22.56% 2296 Leadoff BB => 508 2+ run innings, 22.12%
2003: 1051 Leadoff HR => 252 2+ run innings, 23.97% 2261 Leadoff BB => 479 2+ run innings, 21.18%
2004: 1071 Leadoff HR => 246 2+ run innings, 22.96% 2321 Leadoff BB => 443 2+ run innings, 19.08%
2005: 979 Leadoff HR => 210 2+ run innings, 21.45% 2135 Leadoff BB => 462 2+ run innings, 21.63%
2006: 1069 Leadoff HR => 260 2+ run innings, 24.32% 2154 Leadoff BB => 490 2+ run innings, 22.75%
(Obviously, "2+ run innings" means innings in which 2 or more runs were scored).
Assuming that the retrosheet data is correct and that I don't suck at programming (iffy), this would seem to support what your correspondents are writing. Also note that Top Analyst Timmy (tm) would have been right in 2005 by the slimmest of margins.
And this from Joel:
Took a stab at the question with the data that I have in my database. It's just Cincinnati Reds games from 2001 to 2006, but it's still 973 games for reference and I checked both the Reds and their opponents in those games.
There were 1179 innings that had a lead-off walk. In those 1179 innings, at least one run score 515 times. At least 2 runs scored 328 times (27.8%). And there was a total of 1132 runs scored in those innings.
There were 589 inning with a lead-off home run. Obviously every inning had a run scored. There were 188 multi-run innings (31.9%) and a total of 956 runs scored in those innings.
I'm pretty sure my queries were right, but I only spot checked them. I'm sure you'll get a plethora of data dumps from nerds like myself. Hopefully we can draw some sort of a conclusion from it.
More analysis welcome, of course. I like to make jokes about dicks and poop and poop-covered dicks and dick-covered poop, but it's also nice to actually be right about something now and then. I think we're nearing a weird through the looking glass point where maybe Timmy wasn't so crazy to be surprised about the study he cited. Nah, still crazy.
I should have posted on this a long time ago, but then I left the country and just moved and blah blah blah. The point is, I got a few emails from people after my super snarky post about McCarver calling Stats. Inc. that showed he wasn't as crazy as I thought he was, and I never posted them. Pure neglect on my part.
Junior -- did we ever solve the mathematical accuracy of the Expected Runs Matrix for Bases Empty, No One Out when the leadoff guy homers? Is it (1+) .whatever? Or just .whatever?
Someone actually wrote in about this. I think it's 1+.whatever, because Tangotiger's system has to do with ... well, here:
I just thought I'd just chime in on the question about expected runs matrix when the lead off guy homers. So, if you assume that the inning is a Markov Chain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markov_chain) that is the state of an inning is completely described by the number of outs and what bases are occupied (not really true) then the answer to your question of what is the expected number of runs given that the leadoff guy homers is simply 1 + expected number of runs with no outs and no one on.
This is because you can separate what happens in the past (the lead off guy homers) with what happens in the future, due to the Markov property.
Of course, this is not exactly true, since other things change if the pitcher gives up a homer, such as the likelihood that the pitcher will get pulled. That make this model just an estimate.
Love your blog, James
P.S. Simple proof that it must be 1+whatever and not whatever: (Lets call "whatever" the variable A) Assume that the answer is A, then what if the first B batters (with B > A) all hit homeruns. Then we still have no one on and no outs, but we have B runs scored, this would mean that the expected number of runs (A) is less than the number of runs actually scored, which is a contradiction.
Seriously. My mind is spinning. I'm not sure what to make of this, but here's an e-mail from Richard on leadoff homers versus leadoff walks:
... a leadoff walk is more likely to lead to a multi-run inning than a leadoff homer. (McCarver has his own fact wrong.) I've counted enough innings -- thousands of them -- now to feel comfortable saying this is true.
I've looked so far at the 2007 Angels and Astros seasons (they're first alphabetically), and
-- LA Angels 2007: 120 leadoff walks leading to 124 runs with 33 multiple-run innings (27 percent). 30 leadoff homers leading to 37 runs, with 5 crooked numbers (17 percent).
-- Astros 2007: 102 leadoff walks leading to 83 runs with 24 multiple-run innings (23.5 percent). 42 leadoff homers leading to 57 runs, with 8 multiple-run innings (19 percent).
Basically, if you lead off with a homer, you're going to get one run. If you lead off with a walk, you're probably going to get zero but your chance of getting more than one is higher than it is with a leadoff homer.
Thoughts, people who have enough time and energy to research this type of thing?
Also, I got this from Jacob, and it seems to make sense:
For once, I think you're kind of missing the point on the lead off walk vs lead off HR thing . In either situation, the potential second run of the inning comes to the plate. In terms of whether there will be a multi-run inning or not, it doesn't really matter all that much where the first runner is, since the second guy has to score regardless. Like when you're down two, it doesn't matter a whole lot if the first guy doubles or homers, because the next guy has to score either way.
That being said, McCarver is still an idiot because a) a HR is more indicative of a guy pitching poorly and thus giving up future hits than a walk, and b) the next guy could always hit into a DP if the first guy walks.
Get it? Oops! ... He Did It Again? I'm sure that reference is sailing over your heads. Sorry, guys. I just like to stay on the cutting edge of pop culture. I'm a pop culture maven. I love music and being topical and showing off my knowledge of up-to-the-minute musical references.
Anyway, remember when Tim McCarver said this on Saturday, September 29 (My friends and I keep a record of stupid things Tim McCarver says and post it on an Internet blog with date and time stamps. Don't worry about it. We're pretty awesome.)?
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.
Well, he said it again, almost verbatim, last night during the Indians' merciless bludgeoning of the very nearly moribund Boston Red Sox. I cannot believe that Timmy cannot believe this very obvious fact, and that he is so disbelieving that he has wasted our time in two different nationally broadcasted baseball games with his imbecilic disbelief.
For the last time: a leadoff home run guarantees at least one run, leaving you only needing one more run to create two total runs and thus a multi-run inning. A leadoff walk means a guy is on first.
Francis improved to 5-0 at Chase Field, and he has allowed only five earned runs in his last 33 1/3 innings here.
"I can't explain my success in this park," he said. "I think it's just a small sample size of me having a good run against one team."
If we enjoyed creating fake awards as much as Andrew Sullivan does, this might be the time to create a new Jeff Francis Award for players who seem to have some semblance of an understanding of how statistics work.
The man you see on the left of your screen is named Gerry Fraley. I don't believe we've had the pleasure of writing about you before, Gerry. Welcome.
I see you've chosen to write about a New York ballclub. Ah, the Yankees. Excellent choice. Untrod soil. Virgin territory. You're a regular Vasco da Gama.
Cleveland put the New York Yankees out of their misery on Monday night, bouncing them from the American League playoffs. What comes next is an exodus from the Bronx.
Well, no. What comes next are your opinions on who should exit the Bronx. It's very possible any or all of your opinions are wrong, or certainly that your recommendations will not be heeded. Very very very possible. Astoundingly possible. You're Gerry Fraley, and they are the Yankees.
Manager Joe Torre should go.
He's not terrible. The general feeling around here is that unless he's absolute human garbage, a manager doesn't impact the team all that much. Why should he go?
The Yankees of recent seasons did not play with the same verve as the clubs early in his tenure.
Oh. Verve. I think that's in the contract actually. The Bittersweet Symphony clause. If verve drops below 46 verve points, manager cannot continue in any capacity. Your 2008 Yankees manager: the bassist for the Verve Pipe.
I've always wanted to artlessly jam references to both the Verve and the Verve Pipe into a single paragraph in a blog about sports commentary.
That says as much about the players as it does about the manager.
So, right. Kick Torre's ass to the curb. Excellent point.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez should go, exercising the escape clause in his contract.
You are feeding our monster here, you know that, Gerry? Well done, sir. You are quite an enabler. What his new employer will get is the player whom peers refer to as "The Cooler." Rodriguez will put up big numbers and vanish when most needed.
New metric: number of derogatory nicknames based on William H. Macy motion pictures player has earned. A-Rod's Bill Macy Derogatory Nickname Count: 1. Until next year, when he will be referred to as both "The Shoveller" and "Jurassic Park III."
He did it again in the division series, going 4-for-15 with a meaningless homer late in the final game. When the Yankees needed Rodriguez to do something in the first inning, when they had two on against canny Paul Byrd, he struck out.
Again with the meaningless tag to that homer. Folks, a four-run lead is not insurmountable for the Yankees offense. If Derek Jeter doesn't hit into a double play the inning previous, maybe the homer isn't so meaningless. Christ, what am I talking about? It's a run! In a playoff game! How can that be meaningless? Silly A-Rod. Should've known the at bat he'd be crucified for ex post facto was the one in the first inning.
Catcher Jorge Posada should go.
He's old. He also posted a .426 OBP last year. That is no typo. .970 OPS. What? Those are cartoon numbers. Those numbers don't believe in their own existence. But yeah, fuck him. Jose Molina time or whatever.
Commercial star Roger Clemens should go.
Zing! Has anyone else noticed how awful Clemstone's wife is in that cell phone ad? Hamity ham ham sandwich, Clemens' wife. Tone it down.
In truth, Clemens has hurt his team in each of the last two seasons. Houston went 9-10 in his well-paid starts last season, and the Yankees were 8-10.
Holy assChrist. Yeah, Clemens was unimpressive this year. But last year? You're saying he hurt his team last year? 2.30 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16 out of 19 starts with 2 or fewer earned runs allowed ... that's ungodly dominance. A reader sent the following in, so I'm not sure if it's accurate, but what the hell: "Clemens had a 3.09 ERA. Not overall, but in Houston's LOSSES. That would rank 2nd in the NL in 2006. Yeah, the damage he did to that 2006 Astros team is irreparable."
But of course --
Houston went 9-10 in his well-paid starts last season
Nice cherry-pick, Gerry. Good to have you on board.
Closer Mariano Rivera should go.
Given the hunger for relievers, Rivera will have appeal on the free-agent market. He may want to sign on with another contender rather than hang around for the razing and rebuilding that lies ahead for the Yankees.
This doesn't explain why the Yankees should let him go. Weirdly, you turned around and took Mo's point of view on this one. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. You are, in fact, a crazy person.
I can't wait for the years and years of razing and rebuilding that the New York Fucking Yankees are going to undergo. They won't be back in the playoffs for decades!!!
Those of you who know me well -- dak, Junior, John Rocker, Cloris Leachman, et al. -- know that I love nothing more than puns. Ex-pecially in headlines of articles advocating team-killing roster moves.
Despite Jones' limitations, GORDON WITTENMYER thinks Cubs would be smart to keep him around
Let's do our normal FJM due diligence here. (I'm going to write it as if it is a Playbill bio from a Broadway show.)
Jacque Jones (mediocre outfielder) is a mediocre outfielder for the Chicago Cubs. In 2007, at the age of 32, he went .285/.335/.400 (OPS+ of 87), with a below-league-average EqA of .255. In 453 at bats, Jones hit an astonishing five home runs, and walked 34 times, which is very not good for an outfielder. Jones has previously appeared in Equus, Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, and the 1999-2005 Minnesota Twins, for which he won no prestigious awards.
Assuming the blank checks are as elusive for the Cubs this winter as a done deal on the sale of the team -- which assumes no A-Rod sweepstakes and no $15 million free agents of any ilk -- the top of the Cubs' offseason list of priorities in 2008 becomes pretty simple.
No. 1 on that list: Don't trade Jacque Jones.
Pretend you are Mark Cuban, and you have just bribed Bud Selig with enough green to convince him to let you buy the Cubbies. You look over the roster, and your assistant GM (Dirk Nowitzki) asks you what your first move is going to be. What is your reply?
Let's try to convince the greatest hitter in the game to come play third for us! Let's somehow try to pry Johan Santana away from the Twinkies! Let's sign Mariano Rivera to close games -- his weak GB pitching style is perfect for Wrigley! Easy! Don't trade Jacque Jones!
Trick question. Your first move is to announce that you are moving the team to Cabo. Which is why Bud Selig will never sell it to you.
(By the way, I know I'm rambling here, but this is the caption of a photo of Jacque Jones that accompanies this article...)
Jacque Jones was the Cubs’ leading hitter after the All-Star break, and he can teach a teammate or two a few things about effort.
That strikes me as a funny caption. It's like, "Okay, relax. Stop yelling at me."
Also (further diversion) here is the photo credit: (Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)
That strikes me as the stage name a gay porn star might choose. Okay. Now back to the article, if you're still somehow reading this.
Heavily criticized, regularly booed and on the trading block for much of his two seasons with the Cubs,
Sign him! Lock him up!
the outfielder who nearly was traded to the Florida Marlins in June should be considered a must-keep player going into next season.
Actual "Must-Keep" Players on the Cubs:
Ramirez Zambrano Lee Soriano That's it, I think.
The most immediate reason is the Cubs don't have a better center-field option going into next season -- again, assuming they won't be in the market for high-priced free agents such as Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand or Andruw Jones.
Why wouldn't they be? Jones makes like $5.something next year. Someone will take him.
Felix Pie? Forget it. He has speed and a strong arm, but he's not a major-league hitter, and it's questionable whether he ever will be. In fact, the Cubs would be better off trading Pie now, while his perceived value is high enough to get serious return for him. It was obvious by the end of the season -- and after a .216 batting average during his three shots at the starting center-field job -- that manager Lou Piniella isn't convinced the reality matches the hype with Pie.
Pie is 22 and has a total of 177 AB in his life. Now is probably not the time to give up on him. In 1952, at the age of 21, Willie Mays had 127 AB and hit .236. Am I saying Felix Pie will turn out to be as good as Willie Mays? Yes. In fact, I am guaranteeing it. If Felix Pie does not turn out to be as good as Willie Mays, I will give everyone who reads this blog one hundred dollars.
Keep Pie if you want. Give him a shot in center next spring, even. But Jones had better be around to take over when it doesn't work.
You are extremely certain that Felix Pie is going to fail, considering that the man has had 177 AB and is 22. In 1967, Reggie Jackson was 21 and had 118 AB. He hit .178/.269/.305. Now, am I saying that Felix Pie will end up being as good as Reggie Jackson? Absolutely. In fact, if Felix Pie retires with fewer home runs than Reggie's 563, I will get a tattoo of Joe Morgan's face over my entire face and I will name my first son Timothy McCarver Is Tremendous and I will give everyone who reads this blog one hundred thousand dollars. Book it.
And that's just the small-picture, immediate reason for keeping Jones in the final season of his contract, which calls for him to made a modest $5 million in 2008.
The bigger reason is that he's one of the few guys on the roster -- particularly among the veterans -- who exemplifies the culture change this team talks about making.
Just quickly to reiterate: the small reason to keep him is that he's like "eh" at baseball. The big reason to keep him is: he exemplifies the culture change this team talks about making. Which equates to wins: nebulously.
Jones' critics can scoff all they want, but as bad as he might look at times on a throw from the outfield or chasing an outside pitch in the dirt, he plays the game the way the Arizona Diamondbacks do.
Nowitzki: Mark, listen. Hear me out. Yes, he stinks. He can't throw, he can't hit, and if you throw him a breaking pitch he swings with his eyes closed like a 4th-grade girl playing tee-ball in gym who just wants to strike out so she can go talk to her friends. But: Jacque Jones plays like a D-Back!
Cuban: You're fired.
Nowitzki: Fine. I don't really even like this game anyway. (grabs basketball; heads to door)
Cuban: No -- you're fired from the Mavs. Because you're too valuable as an assistant GM! Sign Jacque Jones to a lifetime deal! And tell him to being that Diamondbacks mentality to our team! I am assuming it was their mentality and not luck that led to their success!
Nowitzki: (hits fadeaway three)
And the success he has had -- and that his teams have had during his career -- has as much do with that approach as the D-backs' approach had in sweeping the Cubs out of the playoffs.
Take note, people who don't know how to process information or separate cause and effect:
Jacque Jones -- responsible for Twins' and Cubs' recent success
General Mentality of Diamondbacks, Which Bears Some Kind of Similarity to Jacque Jones' Mentality -- responsible for Diamondbacks' recent success
No. 1, the guy can hit in the major leagues.
5% worse than the average baseball player last year.
Jones strikes out a lot, but he also is a career .280 hitter -- .285 this season, including a team-leading .332 average after the All-Star break. Strikeouts aren't ideal, but they don't keep you from winning consistently or from winning in the playoffs. The D-backs struck out more than the Cubs during the season, then struck out an astounding 35 times in three games and still swept the Cubs.
Yes, strikeouts do not keep you from winning consistently. That is correct. If you are Ryan Howard or Jim Thome or Manny Ramirez and you are walking a lot and hitting a lot, striking out isn't a big deal at all. But if you are Jacque Jones, and your career K/BB ratio is more than 3:1, and you hit for very little power, then you are not a very valuable hitter.
Jones also can hit for power. His career-low five homers in 2007 were an aberration that might have been caused as much by his early-season turmoil as anything.
Jones can play the guitar. The fact that we just watched him try to play the guitar for six months and he clearly cannot should be attributed to psychological factors.
Although he probably won't admit it, clubhouse insiders said Jones lost more than 10 pounds during that stressful period when the Cubs benched him, traded him, then called off the trade, and it's not a reach to think that affected his power when he started hitting again in July.
Either way, what he went through should make him that much better and stronger entering next season (not to mention it's a contract year).
Jones was bad last year at age 32. He should be much better this year, at age 33.
But this is the biggest reason to keep Jones: The next time he takes a play off will be the first. Criticize him for his arm or for some of the baserunning gaffes that got him booed in 2006,
In other words, criticize him for being bad at baseball...
but he runs out every grounder and pop-up,
A trait he shares with nearly every major- and minor- and Babe Ruth- and Little League baseball payer in the world.
and even his harshest critics must admit he's the rare outfielder on this team willing to go into the ivy to catch a ball.
For what it's worth -- and as always we should point out that it might not be worth all that much -- BP has Jones as a decent fielder (46 FRAA career). Also, cold hard stats have him as a guy with a career .329 OBP.
The Cubs have players making three times his salary who give up on catchable fly balls, who make early U-turns to the dugout on popups (if they get 30 feet out of the box at all), who too often gaze at balls off the wall and who spend too much time getting angry when their immense talent fails that they forget to finish the play or keep their head in the rest of the inning.
I'm looking at you, Jason Kendall. Yes, your immense talent and hitting prowess amazes critics and children alike, but that does not entitle you to phone it in. (I assume he's actually talking about Ramirez or Soriano, to which I can only reply: those guys are way better than Jacque Jones.)
That's far more damaging to a team's chances of winning than an honest, aggressive effort by a good player that falls short.
Sorry, I don't think that's true. I'll take the slacker weirdo who hits home runs over the earnest hustler who does not.
Just ask anybody who has played with A.J. Pierzynski, whose personality issues never have caused anybody to question his effort or fire on the field -- and who happens to come from the same heralded Minnesota Twins organization as Jones.
This is terrible journalism. What does Pierzynski have to do with the Jones/anti-Jones binary system you have been describing? The point you were making was: I would rather have a guy who tries hard all the time and isn't very good at baseball, than a guy who is great at baseball but half-asses it sometimes. Then you cited Pierzynski. Pierzynski, by all accounts, is a complete dick who is sort of fine at baseball, and seems to try all the time. It's not the same thing. And the fact that they both played for the Twins is: immaterial.
If the Cubs want to be competitive again next season and want that culture change to continue moving in the right direction, then they will start by --
Signing ARod? Going after Johan? Luring Posada away from the Yankees? Going after Mike Lowell?
-- keeping Jones.
Ah. Of course. Lock up the 33 year-old OF with the career 100 OPS+.
In 2005, at the age of 20, Pie made the "toughest transition in the minors" by hitting .304/.349/.554 in 262 AA plate appearances. Last season, at 22, Pie hit .362/.410/.563 in 251 AAA plate appearances. Last year's Pecota projects him to hit .290/.346/.492 in 2008, with a 30% chance of being a "star" or better, and a 20% chance of being a "superstar." And he was born in 1985. AND, he will cost approximately 7% of what Jaques Jones will cost next season.
My suggestion: trade Jones to Pittsburg for Domaso Marte. They might just be dumb enough to do it.
We've covered Manny Acta before, but it's just, I don't know, pleasant to find out that a current baseball manager seems so eminently sane. Here is the man giving an interview to some sort of Internet computer blog:
SB: What’s your stance on bunting and other one run strategies?
MA: Bunting is pretty outdated. Everybody scores so many runs nowadays, it doesn’t make sense to play for one run unless it’s late in the game and it’s close. I hardly ever bunt early in a game, unless it’s with a pitcher. A big inning can win you a game. One run in the third inning can’t, unless you have Pedro pitching.
Correct. Even throws in an interesting point about the increased run-scoring environment of the modern game. Outs are precious. Manny Acta understands this.
SB: Lightning Round. Best hitter in the game, non-Barry division.
MA: Albert Pujols. No question.
Fine with this. Down year this year, but Albert has been superhuman for several seasons now.
SB: Best pitcher.
MA: Roy Oswalt. He’s just tough as nails. He comes at you like nobody else. That’s a tough place to pitch, and he’s been very consistent.
Would've chosen Santana probably. Oswalt is on the downslide. Joe's c-word rears its head. But still, read on for Manny to redeem himself.
SB: Best player.
MA: Alex Rodriguez.
SB: What’s your favorite blog?
MA: Squawking Baseball, of course. I read Baseball Prospectus a lot too. Will Carroll writes some of my favorite stuff. I also loved Mind Game.
He reads several blogs? The Prospy? Wilfred B. Carroll? We gotta start rooting for this guy, right? I point this out not only to raise Acta's profile a little, but also to show that you can read nerdy computer number Blackberry Internet iPhone shit and still manage a team without everything falling apart. I think the Nats actually outperformed expectations -- not that Acta necessarily was responsible for this, but still.
A gentle sorbet courtesy of Kenny Smith's Eastern Conference rankings: 3. Miami Heat – Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade tasted the sweet smell of success two years ago and have the tools to get back to the NBA finals.
Oddly, the sweet smell of success actually tastes like the texture of an orchestra playing Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." Ask Shaq about this next time you see him.
It sneaks up on you sometimes. One day you're the heart and soul of a team. People can't praise your intangibles enough. Your grit. Your heart. Your leadership. You're white, you sort of suck at getting on base, you make a lot of serious faces on the field. All the ingredients are there.
Then one day you wake up and you're no longer a grinder -- and Joel Sherman is writing articles about your team with headlines like this:
SHAKE IT UP METS WOULD GET MUCH-NEEDED JOLT FROM ROWAND AND ECKSTEIN
Hey, Paul Lo Duca just walked in. I'm going to let him type a little bit. Hold on --
Rowand? Eckstein? What about me, Paulie Bignuts?! I'm the Jolt cola on this team! I'm the hard-working stubbly lunch pailer! What happened to all those articles about how when Glassesface DePodesta traded me away the Dodgers lost their soul? I AM TEAM CHEMISTRY.
I am a pending free agent -- why isn't this article all about resigning me? Randolph is now enlisted for next year and the Mets should work to build a team that works for him. Here's what Hardball would strongly consider:
1. MORE PASSION
Fuck me! (It's still Paulie here.) I just hit Open Apple-F in Firefox and searched for "Lo Duca." I'm not even mentioned in the article! Va fangoule, Joel Sherman! That's-a spicy-a meatball-a! In general, I dismiss the emotional/chemistry stuff. Usually onlookers see what they want based on results (David Wells is a real-guy gamer when he succeeds and an out-of-shape dirtbag when he loses). But by the end of the disappointing season, Randolph and many of his key veterans were acknowledging a core that lacked urgency and ardor. There was too much privilege among this group, as if it were Duke waiting for its NCAA tourney invite rather than earning its way in.
Okay, Junior here. I've wrested the keyboard away from Lo Dukes. It's covered in marinara sauce. Sherman, seriously, it's hard to have it both ways here. How can you say "I dismiss the emotional/chemistry stuff" and then advocate signing a no-hit, no-field, aging Eckstein with your next breath?
Now the Mets lost because they had no "ardor"? Jesus Christ, man. What do you think ardor legitimately cost them? Two games? Three?
Lo Duca wants me to type that he's still extremely ardorous. Okay. Okay. I did it. Stop hitting me with your chicken parm sub.
There is a term in baseball, grinder, to describe those who bring it every day and treat each at-bat like a mini holy war.
What the Mets need is an Osama bin Laden-type in the two-hole. You know who was a phenomenal grinder? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Too bad he was killed by a a laser-guided GBU-12 and GPS-guided GBU-38. Thanks a lot, troops!
The Mets need a whole lot fewer whiners and lawyers who sap the energy/togetherness in their clubhouse, and more grinders, especially because Randolph is so non-confrontational even with his worst offenders.
Tell me, please, which of these Metropolitans qualify as whiner-lawyers:
David Wright Jose Reyes Luis Castillo Carlos Delgado Moises Alou Carlos Beltran Shawn Green Paul Lo Duca Tom Glavine Pedro Martinez John Maine Orlando Hernandez Billy Wagner
You get the point. Actually, no. Let me spell it out for you. If the Mets win two more games, this is the exact same group of guys we're saying has incredible chemistry, whose unbreakable camaraderie bonded them together as the Phillies made their run, whose kinship and brotherhood and passion for the game carried them through tough times and led them to the playoffs. Am I wrong?
Look, the Diamondbacks are a club that believes in statistical analysis, yet recently gave Eric Byrnes a three-year, $30 million extension in recognition of what his daily zeal does for the group.
I'm really unclear on how much of that 30 million Josh Byrnes earmarked for daily zeal. Was it a 5 million zeal bonus? I think it was 2.5 million for the hair, 3.5 for falling down every time you throw the ball. So the Mets should look seriously at free agents Aaron Rowand to play center field and David Eckstein to play second base, and/or see if they could pry someone such as the Angels' jack-in-the-box Chone Figgins to be their jack-of-all-trades.
Okay, Aaron Rowand had a great year last year. Career year. WARP3 of 9.6. Here are his WARP3s from the last three years: 3.3 (missed some games), 6.0, 6.8. If you're the Mets, don't you already have a guy playing center field? A Carlos somebody? Who had a mild down year to the tune of 9.5 WARP? Who has posted WARP3s of 11.9, 5.6, and 9.9 recently?
By signing Rowand, the Mets would rob the NL East champ Phillies of a big piece. Putting Carlos Beltran in right field might diminish his leg injuries.
Maybe Sherman knows more about Beltran's injuries than I do, but it seems like a pretty big waste to play a good defensive center fielder in right in order to sign an inferior center fielder. With Eckstein, you must believe he could play second, that his body is not deteriorating fast at 32, and that he would accept a one- or two-year deal. If you buy all of that, Eckstein's peskiness and seriousness about winning would enliven the Mets.
Exactly like, say, Luis Castillo, a guy who was supposed to be pesky and winning-y and grinderish and who was already on the Mets this year? Castillo has 17 points of career OBP on Eck and he's faster, too. And he already plays second base.
Joel Sherman says the Mets need passion. Let's go through some of those 2007 Mets again.
David Wright Great character guy. MVP-type. Leader. Incredibly mature for his age. Works hard, plays hard. Passionate. Smiles.
Jose Reyes Fiery. Sparkplug. Catalyst. MVP-type talent. The future. Puts pressure on pitchers. Passionate.
Luis Castillo Veteran. Pesky. Bat control guy. Comes from Twins' winning system. Passionate. Smallballer.
Carlos Delgado Veteran. Knows how to win. Former MVP-type. Subject of innumerable Gammo articles praising his leadership and the way he mentors Beltran. Passionate.
Moises Alou Veteran. Pisses on hands.
Carlos Beltran Veteran. Uber-talent. Solid clubhouse presence.
Shawn Green Jew.
Paul Lo Duca Veteran. Heart, soul, heartsoul, leader, heartleader, guides pitching staff. Passionate. Hates to lose. Co-wrote this post. White.
Pedro Martinez Once threatened to drill Babe Ruth, a dead man, in the ass. Passionate.
Really, you see a bad, passionless apple in this suitcase full of apples?
Ah, fuck it. Just sign Eckstein and win the World Series. Do it.