FIRE JOE MORGAN: An Open Letter to Theo Epstein: Version 2


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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


An Open Letter to Theo Epstein: Version 2

This is the second in a series of FJM's Peabody- and MacArthur Genius Grant Award-winning essays on the topic: "Should the Boston Red Sox sign Barry L. Bonds to replace the injured David Ortiz's production in the line-up?" In Vol. 1 of this series, dak argued: "Yes." In order to make things interesting, and because it is the correct answer, I have decided to take the position: "no."


Dear Mr. Epstein,

First, allow me to apologize for the inappropriate and juvenile way that my friend dak tried to forge a bond with you in his essay. His odd attempts to raise tenuous "connections" with you, based on nothing more than childhood geography and Jewishness was, in a word, embarrassing. I know that you do not stand for that sort of thing, because you and I totally met at the 2003 Hot Stove, Cool Music and talked for several minutes and we're basically best friends, so, again, I apologize, and also let's hang out.

To the matter at hand, though: you shouldn't sign Barry Bonds, even in a theoretical world in which you might be contemplating signing Barry Bonds, which is not this world, because you are not a crazy insane mad man.

Normally on this site, and in my life as a rule, I prefer to use numbers and statistics to back up my points, so let's start there and gradually work our way toward my final point.

dak seems to think signing Barry Bonds is a good idea, for an offensively-needy club like yours. This, as Baruch Spinoza famously said, is fucking insane. Here are like 11 reasons why: (I don't even know if I have 11, but I am so confident I can come up with 11 I'm just going for it):

1. dak suggests that Barry Bonds, who is 43 (that's 78 in "I never took steroids" years), could just waltz onto an MLB 40-man roster, walk 100 times and OBP .480 and hit like 28 HR (pro-rated, I guess). I doubt this. PECOTA's 50% projections had Barry at .233/.387/.462, EqA of .293. That ain't bad, but it's not a .480 OBP and 28 HR.

Now, obviously, this is a dude who has been blowing away 50% PECOTA projections ever since he started using zinc and flaxseed oil, but the fact remains: there isn't a good reason to think that the guy will hold up that well, especially since it turns out that the zinc and flaxseed oil he was using was actually (spoiler alert! stop reading now if you are a simpleton who believes that Barry Bonds never used steroids) Winstrol/Stanozolol, Deca-Durabolin, HGH, The Cream, and The Clear, among other things. Without that kind of zinc and flaxseed oil, this could be one broken-down 43 year-old pituitary case.

2. Bond's VORP was set at 12.1. I think you can probably make up 12.1 runs (pro-rated) by DHing Manny and playing both Crisp and Ellsbury in the OF every day -- those two have to be worth 12 runs of defense over Manny and either of them. Manny is -73 FRAA over the last five years (14+ runs of badness/year). So, already, without doing anything, you are probably better off without Bonds.

3. Barry Bonds hasn't played baseball yet this year.

4. Barry Bonds has never played in the American League.

5. Barry Bonds hated Boston and thought it was racist, before he had ever been there. That seems like a dude you definitely want on your team, which plays in Boston.

6. Let's see...what else...oh -- he is the world's biggest douchebag. Now. I know we're supposed to be objective here, and we're supposed to get all stat-y and rational and everything, but this dude is actually the #1 Douchebag in America, according to a recent study by professors at the College of Excellence. Consider that he (a) has been cheating at baseball for like 10 years and (b) lied about it the whole time and (c) cheated on his wife and used non-IRS-reported cash to buy his mistress a house in Arizona and (d) claimed racism everywhere he went for whatever reason if it suited his purposes and (e) once dragged his fucking kids into a press conference and used them as literal human shields to try to protect himself from questions about whether he was using steroids (which, again, he totally was) and to try to make the reporters who were asking the questions feel guilty for asking them and (f) didn't even show up to the fucking HR-hitting contest held at his own fucking ballpark, thus essentially producing his weiner from his XXXXXXXXL pants and urinating on the one group of fans anywhere, in any city, that still liked him.

Now, I know a lot of guys in professional sports can proudly claim one or more of (a)-(f). But only one has all of them. And you want to put that guy -- that 43 year-old mini-scrotumed douchebag -- on your team?

7. You don't really need him that bad. Your team has scored 309 runs, 2nd in the AL. That'll take a hit with Ortiz out, but again, DHing Manny and having Crisp in CF every day will help on the other end.

8. The core of this current team has won two WS in four years. There is no urgency here. This is not 2004, when it'd been 86 years and Pedro was old and leaving and Lowe was leaving and Damon and Tek and all those dudes were either leaving or about to start sucking. There is no urgency. None. Boston always wants to win, but after '04 and '07 we don't have to. You don't have to do every single thing in the world to try to win. (This simple fact should prevent you from signing the World's Biggest Douchebag, and should be thought of as a corollary to #'s 2 and 7, which pretty easily show that there is no guarantee the guy would even help that much, overall.)

9. Let me ask you something -- and you too, dak. Is there any part of you...any part at all...that thinks that this would go well:

"Hi. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Dan Shaughnessey."

You want that? You want what follows that in your clubhouse?

10. Your real problem, Mr. Epstein, is pitching, and we all know it. SSS warnings here, but: Oki is more hittable and more wild this year...Francona is starting to have to rely very heavily on Craig Hansen in the late innings...Justin Masterson is not going to remain undefeated the whole year...Schilling is a ?...Wakefield is Wakefield...Beckett is suddenly allowing HR at his 2006 rate...Buchholz is a ?...none of these problems can be solved by a 43 year-old asshole who's being chased by like 11 government agencies at once and whose blood contains certain mutated proteins heretofore found only in syphilitic sharks.

11. I guess for my final salvo, I shall respond to one of dak's points. He charmingly writes:
The real issue, of course, is steroids. Or cheating. Or lying about cheating? I don't really know. Let's put it this way: the other night, my friend Junior asked me, "Would you want the Red Sox to win the 2008 World Series if, on the same night they clinched, Red Sox DH Barry Bonds tested positive for steroids and HGH and let's say, for the fun of it, black tar heroin?"

Yes. Yes yes. Yes yes yes. I want the Red Sox to win the World Series.
This is lunacy. With this logic, there is no crime, no matter how heinous, that a player on your favorite team could commit that would sour a positive result on the playing field -- an amusingly inane brand of consequentialism usually reserved for budding fascists and Machiavelli enthusiasts whose underdeveloped brains and beatings at the hands of older jocks have driven them to the conclusion that murdering the high school quarterback is actually a utilitarian good.

Why, dak, why? Why allow your team to win at any cost? Are you out of your fucking mind? Great, the Sox won the Series. Now we get fucking SpyGate II for the next 25 years. And every time anyone brings up the Red Sox' World Championships of 2004-2008, instead of remembering Roberts stealing second or Bellhorn's HR or Schilling's sock or coming back from 3-1 down against Cleveland, the first thing everyone remembers is -- how about that time they clinched the Series and that night it came out that Bonds was a one-man farmacia?

With similar logic, dumbass, would you want the Red Sox to win the 2008 WS if on the night they clinched it came out that DH Barry Bonds had fixed the games? That he had personally taken some of the not-reported-to-the-IRS cash (which he got from ripping kids off at autograph sessions) that was originally earmarked for another house for his mistress, and gone to the Cubs' pitchers and said, "I know you guys need money -- what if I give you this untraceable cash in exchange for you blowing the games?" and they'd said: "Okay, that sounds good. We will further embarrass and enrage the city of Chicago for $25,000 a piece." Would you still savor your sweet victory then, dak?

After two WS wins, you'd welcome a third, no matter how bad the scandal that accompanies it? That is insane.

Listen, people, (I forgot whom I'm even talking to at this point), there are a lot of dudes out there who can give you 12.1 VORP. Brandon Moss might be able to give you 12.1 VORP, even appendixless. Coco Crisp might be able to give you 12.1 FRAA. Maybe Youkilis and Drew will step it up in Ortiz's absence. Maybe a rest in the middle of the season will even do him good...

Barry Bonds is a horrorshow. Barry Bonds is the single most hated and divisive and polarizing figure in the history of sports. He's also 43 and hasn't played baseball this year. I want the Red Sox to win the World Series too, but Jesus, man. Come on.

(My high school debate coach taught me that you should end every debate with: "Jesus, man, come on," so I'll stop there.)

*Sorry I called you an asshole.

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