FIRE JOE MORGAN: The Selfish Meme


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Friday, April 11, 2008


The Selfish Meme

Title is a half-assed play on words on a Richard Dawkins book title. Deal with it. Yesterday we saw a dude call Alfonso Soriano selfish because he had six bad games. (Has anyone noticed that noted egomaniac David Ortiz is 3-36? Diva!) Today's selfish oaf: Carlos Lee (HR totals the past five years: 32, 37, 32, 31, 31). I'm sensing a trend about selfish players -- they're freaking awesome.

There're some more gems in here, so let's get started, shall we, Joe Cowley?

Williams emulates a Twinning formula
Sox GM realizes talent alone doesn't guarantee anything

Talent, as we all know from years of sports journalism dogma, is anathema to winning. Teams win in spite of talent. Talent creates egos, egos create selfishness, selfishness results in too many damn home runs.

Keep your talent. Give me guys who volunteer at soup kitchens. Then I'll have a baseball team.

He spent years watching, studying and even copying it, to the point where it won him a World Series in 2005.

The truth is finally out there: Ken Williams is copying the formula of the 1989 Trumbull, Connecticut World Champion Little League team. Expect a call, Chris Drury.

Now White Sox general manager Ken Williams hopes he has moved a step closer to perfecting the model.

Thanks, Minnesota Twins.

So Ken, you're going to emulate the Twins' uncanny scouting and player development machine and work on bilking Brian Sabean out of Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for one year of A.J. Pierzynski?

No, of course not. You're going to spout off some nonsense about reducing the amount of talent you want on your team.

''This job is one in which you never stop learning,'' Williams said Monday, hours before the Sox rallied to beat the Twins 7-4 in the home opener. ''Early on, I thought throwing talent at the wall would bring a championship, and, for three or four years, on paper we had the best team in the division.

''There were at least two of those years where Minnesota won the division and then came out and even said, 'That team there [the Sox] has more talent than us.' That really made me rethink some of the things we were doing, the approach we were taking.''


It also forged the word ''grinder'' into his head.


White Sox fans: your general manager is officially building a baseball team based on a nebulous buzzword that's a synonym for submarine sandwich. Fear him. Fear him greatly.

He saw players such as A.J. Pierzynski, the Twins' cocky catcher who needled opponents with his antics to no end, all in the pursuit of winning. Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Denny Hocking, Doug Mientkiewicz -- the Twins' roster seemed perfectly put together to play the game the right way, frustrating bigger-budget teams along the way.

How about the fact that Hunter regularly hit 25 bombs a year, or that Pierzynski was an above-average hitter at the catcher spot, or that Mientkiewicz was one of the very best defensive first basemen in the game? No? Not important? You're right, it was probably Pierzynski's off-color jokes about what he did to Joe Crede's sisters that won the Twins the division. That's playing the game the right way!

Not only has Williams admitted to copying that model,


All you've said so far is that they're "grinders" and the roster "seemed perfectly put together" to "play the game the right way." Oh, and that you shouldn't "have the best team on paper." How are these not just read straight off page 1 of General Manager Press Conference Clich├ęs, The Handbook?

but he also has had more money to budget his replica. Add a few tweaks of his own, such as adding players from outside the organization, rather than inside as the cheaply run Twins do, and ... ta-da!

That's another thing. The Chicago White Sox have the fifth-highest payroll in baseball, just behind the Red Sox. They're one Gagne away from equaling Theo's budget. Consider that when you think about what kind of job Kenny Williams is doing. Baseball Prospectus has the South Siders finishing with a sweet 77 wins. Prove them wrong, Kenny. Prove them wrong.

Williams signed Pierzynski, traded away selfish, all-or-nothing hitters such as Carlos Lee and built a stellar starting rotation before the '05 season.

Carlos Lee, EqAs since the trade: .274, .301, .300.
The guy they traded Carlos Lee for, EqAs since the trade: .264, .249, .244.

And last year Scotty Pods earned that .244 EqA in just 235 at bats because he was so banged-up and shitty the Sox never wanted to play him. Then, of course, at the end of the year, they just straight-up released him. The whole time, he was extremely grindy, though. He starred in that movie Grindhouse. I think he was the lady with the machine gun for a leg.

El Caballo, meanwhile, just keeps putting up 90-30-100 year after year after year. Get that shit off my team.

Credit where credit's due -- it was a wonderful pitching staff the White Sox had in 2005. But let's be honest, a lot of dudes were having career years. Garland, Contreras, even Buehrle -- all of them posted the highest full-season ERA+s of their careers in 2005, and none of them have really been the same since. This is to say nothing of the freakish, otherworldly performances of Messrs. Hermanson, Cotts, and Politte, who, as we love to point out here on FJM, all had ERA+s of 220 or higher. That's 1989 Dennis Eckersley shit. Fun fact: none of these three guys are even on major league rosters this year. The Podsednik-Pierzynski effect? Or (ahem) just a little bit of good fortune?

Bullpens are unpredictable and fickle; it seems like every year the eventual World Series champ gets out-of-nowhere contributions from their 'pen. Just last year, the Red Sox had Okajima and Delcarmen pitching out of their minds. But seriously, to get 185 innings of sub-2.00 ERA ball from the ne plus ultra of journeyman reliever triumvirates -- Hermanson, Cotts, and Politte -- is remarkably remark-worthy. And for the last time, it has nothing to do with grinding or scrapping from hardworking, undersized, fiery white hitters.

But the underlying trait Williams searches for is what he calls a ''Chicago toughness.''

You're right. I take it all back.

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posted by Junior  # 2:37 PM
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