Monthly archives: November 2002
Rupe a Dupe? (A Note
Rupe a Dupe? (A Note from Epstein's Mother of a Pickup)
Reportedly prepubescent (So what? He's 28. Get over it.) and newly-appointed Red Sox GM Theo Epstein made his first personnel move today. Was it the signing of free-agent star Jim Thome to fill the void at first? No. Was it to claim Neifi Perez off the waiver wires and juggle him and other ex-pat shortstop Rey Sanchez at second base? No. Was it to place Nomar Garciaparra on the DL in order to get ready for the regular season? No.
It was Ryan Rupe, a man unceremoniously waived by the lowly Devil Rays. Was it just to get Red Sox fan's ulcers ready for the regular season? No, I think this could be a nice pickup for young Theo. (Was he even alive when Buckner missed the Mookie Ball? I'm only kidding.) Rupe is a big kid (27), who was hurried through three minor league levels in 18 games in parts of two seasons. He jumped from Double-A to the majors in 1999. It looked like a good decision in his first year but has turned sour ever since. I think this guy could blossom in the right atmosphere. With what the Sox have done with errant arms in the past few years, I wouldn't be surprised if he turned into a reliable end-of-rotation starter, which is all the Red Sox need with Martinez, Lowe, and Wakefield at the top of the order. This quiet pickup could be big if Rupe fulfills his potential. If not, at least the price is right.
Fixing a Whole, IV
Fixing a Whole, IV
I received an email from the guys over at Elephants in Oakland, and they don't agree with my resolution on ticket prices. Here's what they had to say:
We think you caved too early in your argument about baseball ticket prices, et al.
And here's my response:
Fixing a Whole, III
Fixing a Whole, III
For a quick list I introduced as "Just for fun", my 25 baseball boo-boos are generating a bit of email. A number of people are questioning my statement that Francisco Rodriguez's inclusion on the Angels' playoff roster was legal. Here's my response:
Actually, the rule reads as follows (from Baseball Roster Central):
Secondly, my first two items (Bud Selig and the media) have been at issue with some people. Here's a clarification:
First, the second point has nothing to do with point 1. Rather it deals with major-league clubs being owned by corporations that also own large players in the media markets. Refer to this post if you are interested.
I hope that clears things up a bit. By the way, no one has brought up the alleged dire financial state of all but-what was it?-three teams, which was such a looming problem just a few months ago during the labor negotiations. Are we that jaded as a society that we have already acknowlegded and accepted that this was just a bargaining tactic? I thought it was just me.
Also, no one has had a problem with issue number 15 (I feel like John McLaughlin), Thom Brenniman and Steve Lyons: never again.
Dog With a Bone? This
Dog With a Bone?
This NY Daily News story contends that the Phils are fixated on the three free agents that they are pursuing. The article theorizes that the Mets will end up losing to the Phils in the Tom Glavine turkey rival. It also quotes one baseball exec, who seems to think the Phils have gone stark raving mad:
"No one knows how to respond where the Phillies are involved...They seem ready to go to great lengths to sign the people they think they need."
I think that all of the Phils' transactions have to be viewed with a few things in mind. A) The Phils move into a new stadium in 2004. B) The Rolen fiasco was a rather large black eye for the team and drove away fans when the team was in need of garnering local support to begun with. C) The Phils have been making money hand-over-fist in the revenue sharing deal mostly because of... And D) the Phils have had only modest forays into free agency since some poor signees blew up in their faces in the '90s. Their management has acted as a small-market team for years.
So every action that they take is to dig them out of the hole that they have created over the last 20 years. They must win back the fans to benefit from the windfall they will have in the new stadium. Seeking out high-profile free agents is the cheapest and fastest way to rectify the situation. It's disingenuous and will kill the team in four years, but the team doesn't care if it gets fannies in the seats in the next two years.
Bell was a bit prohibitive, but $4.25 M per year is not that expensive if he turns out to be another Mikeirillo. Rey Ordonez was given $6.25 for 2003 by the Mets for heaven's sake. It is a bit more glaring a sum in these austere times, but with the Phils' Jack Benny-like frugality their coffers are teeming.
Of course, as they pursue these free agents to the exclusion of all others-Why not pursue Alfonzo as well as Bell? Moyer and Maddux as well as Glavine-they drive up their price and tick off the other owners. They also in the process make up some questionable deals. Time will tell, how bad they may be, but the results may be registered on the balance sheet and not the field.
I'm Telling Mom Chuck Bausman
I'm Telling Mom
Chuck Bausman of the Philadelphia Daily News is upset that some Phils games at Shea in 2003 were downgraded to "value" (read cheap) seats. Having grown up in Philly and lived in NYC, I love witnessing the City of Brotherly Love's inferiority complex in action as well as the Big Apple's insouciance in dealing with its neighbor. Philly reads volumes into how New York deals with it, and it's a non-issue for New York. I'm sure that the ticket prices were set by some blind pricing algorithm, not as "a well-intended slap" at Philly. Like the Mets would take in less money just to rib Philadelphia? Great fun.
Crazy Tommy? II Neyer has
Crazy Tommy? II
Neyer has a good piece on this today.
Crazy Tommy? The stakes have
The stakes have gone up in the Tom Glavine sweepstakes. The going price is now $45 M over 4 years. Who upped their ante you ask? Why Glavine himself of course.
Baseball's version of Bob Barker sent his counterproposal to the Phillies, Mets, and Braves yesterday. I am left wondering why one of them doesn't drop out and pursue Greg Maddux. They are both 36. Though both are strong Hall-of-Fame candidates, Maddux has been a far better pitcher over his career (Maddux' park-adjusted ERA is 45% better than average and twice as good as Glavine's, which is only 22% above average). I would also submit that Maddux was a better pitcher in 2002 (BP's Support-Neutral Wins Above Replacement (SNWAR) favors Maddux 5.8 to 5.3).
One last thing: if I were choosing between the two as far as which will be productive until and at age 40, I would have to go with Maddux. Glavine has had some average years mixed in with the great (e.g., 1994 and 1999). Maddux has been a superior pitcher every year since 1988, inclusive. The only advantage Glavine has is having won 20 games five times as opposed to two for Maddux. Given that wins have a great deal to do with luck, I wouldn't invest $45 M in Glavine without exploring Maddux as an option. I don't know what he's asking but can it be more than the Glavine auction?
Ode to Joe: The Joe
Ode to Joe: The Joe Morgan Chat Day The Universe Changed
I know, the season's over and Joe's chats are no more until next spring. But...
O friends, not these sounds!
Or words to that effect. I have unearthed a Joe Morgan Chat Day from April 26. Why, you ask? Well, I am reminded of a quote by Erasmus, I believe. No, wait. It was Cliff Clavin. When asked why you drink cold beer on a hot day, he responded that it balances out your inner and outer temperatures-that's not the quote, wait for it. When asked why you drink cold beer on a cold day, Cliff queried, "What else are you going to with it?"
Besides, I found an historical antecedent to Joe Morgan and I'm kvelling about it. It's Tycho Brahe, but before you say gesundheit, let me explain. Well, first here's Basil Exposition to explain what Joe Morgan Chat Day is all about. We (I'm schizophrenic and so am I) here at Mike's Baseball Rants love the Joe Morgan Chat Day. We love the Joe Morgan-he was one of our favorite players, a charter member of my beloved Wheeze kids. He was the greatest second baseman I ever had the pleasure to see play and had one of my favorite batting stances. As a baseball analyst he is the apogee of analysis in a post-modern world. His comments can be dead on are they can be supercalifragilisticexpialiwacky. He reaches his epiphanic apotheosis when he achieves dead-on wackiness. And, oh brother, does he ever in this chat session. I think I've found the perfect quote, pure Joe perfection.
Anyway, back to our show. In 1572 a nova appeared in the constellation of Cassiopeia. It was so bright that it burned for two years and was visible in daylight. Wild explanations abounded. God was angry. The crystalline spheres that underpinned the universe were being destroyed. And those were the scholars of the day.
Aristotelian cosmology held that the perfect and unchanging cosmos was divided into eight crystalline spheres that wheeled around the earth. The church adopted this view as it could be fitted to creationism. God was the creator and prime mover. The heavens were divided from the earth because of their curved movements. Everything on earth moved in straight lines, up and down or side-to-side.
There were some problems. Ptolemy qualified the system to explain why certain planets (e.g. Mars) changed direction occasionally. You see, they were on mini-spheres within their main crystalline sphere. Never mind that it took over 80 over these mini-spheres to define the known universe.
When calendar reform became an issue-why did the sun and moon not agree?-Copernicus developed a heliocentric (i.e., sun-centered) explanation. The earth was no longer the center of the universe nor was it stoically unchanging, but Copernican theory was not so earth-shattering (excuse the pun) as it seemed for it was just what the name implied, theory. It was not considered reality but a mathematical construct. At least that's what Copernicus meant it to be. He was a priest working at the pope's behest, for goodness sake.
In 1573, a twenty-seven-year-old Dane named Tycho (i.e., Tygo latinized) Brahe published his theory regarding the pesky nova in a volume audaciously entitled The New Star. You see, there couldn't be a new star because the heavens were perfect and unchanging. Things could change and often did in the earth's realm, rainbows, aurora borealis, etc. Brahe claimed that the skies were not unchanging at all and he could prove it by observation, thereby disproving Aristotle in the real, and not theoretical, world for the first time.
Brahe had studied the skies above nightly from about the age of sixteen using highly accurate tools of his own making (the telescope would not be available until Galileo made his fortune selling them to local merchants, who would use them to identify incoming ships and set the market prices accordingly in advance). The King of Denmark rewarded Brahe for his masterstroke with his own personal island fiefdom, a place called Hven.
Brahe spent the next four years studying the skies nocturnally and refining and recalibrating his instruments. Since the telescope was not yet invented, Brahe would use the naked eye and tools like giant quadrants to record reams of figures and calculations. Some reports held that Brahe's right eye became larger because of this.
Brahe was rewarded for his hard work with another cosmic phenomenon, a comet. He proved by the change in parallax that the comet was further away than the moon, on the closest crystalline sphere, and that it was moving in an elliptical trajectory (well, he recorded it in his data but it wasn't discovered until later). So what happened to all the crystalline spheres it should have been collided with? Wrote Brahe:
There are not really any spheres in the Heavens...it seems futile to undertake this labour of trying to find a real sphere, to which a comet may be attached...[Comets] cannot by any means be proved to be drawn round by any sphere."
Doesn't that sound just like Joe?
Brahe adopted the view that the sun still revolved around the earth but that everything but everything else besides the moon revolved around the sun. He never resolved the issue of the elliptical paths nor the reason for the planets staying in the sky without crystalline spheres. He spent the rest of his life gazing at the sky and recording his data. He also acted a bit too draconian and ticked off too many people causing him to be ousted from Hven and forcibly re-located to Prague.
Brahe, besides being the godfather of astronomy ("Say it loud. I'm Danish and I'm proud."), was perhaps the progenitor of the mad scientist stereotype. While at school, he got into a fierce argument with another student over, of all things, mathematics. They mistakenly dueled in the twilight to settle their differences, and Brahe ended up losing the tip of his nose. He wore a metal prosthetic nose for the rest of his life (as They Might Be Giants always said, "Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads."). While taking up residence on his feudal island, he built underground observatories, employed a dwarf as a jester, and domesticated a moose, who would later die after an intoxicated fall down a flight of stairs. Brahe would eventually die from, or so was for centuries claimed, holding his bladder at a dinner party. After his body was exhumed in 1996, it was found that the cause of his death was apparently mercury poisoning, possibly from overexposure to his astronomy instruments.
The two questions he asked were very soon answered by two other men. A math professor in Padua spent the next 18 years trying to answer the second question, that of heavenly bodies being suspended in space without crystalline spheres. He timed balls in motion and found that they fell they accelerated at a constant rate, 32 feet per second squared. He also surmised that the reason that when a ball was dropped, it didn't fall to the west of the point they were dropped from was that the earth was like a ship at sea in that to the passengers the movement was not apparent. This explanation destroyed Aristotle's idea that secular and heavenly motion were different and introduced a mathematical explanation to the universe. The next thing he did drove this man from academic obscurity to a household name. He pointed a telescope at the sky and recorded in a little book called The Starry Messenger that Jupiter had moons while orbiting the sun. He proposed the logical theory that the earth itself could too be just a planet revolving around the sun. As if this weren't enough, he had the gall to insist in writing that not only was scientific investigation separate from the Bible, and therefore didn't gainsay what was contained therein, he then revealed his preference for sensory-based investigation. He traveled to Rome in 1624 to insist on total scientific freedom even as he was told that these new ideas had to introduced slowly so as not to cause Catholics to totally lose faith. Finally, he published The Dialogue of the Two Chief Systems of the World, in which he argued that opposition to the Copernican system was spurious. It became a sensation, and he became famously tried, placed under house arrest for life for heresy, and dead in 1642. He was, of course, Galileo Galilei, and he was the father of scientific thought.
The other question, that of elliptical paths, was answered by a student and assistant of Brahe's, who inherited all of his voluminous data upon his death (as well as his post as Imperial Mathematician). In a few years of studying Brahe's figures, Johan Kepler found the universal laws that governed the "clockwork" cosmos. Kepler noted that Mars, as it traveled in its elliptical path, got slower the farther it was from the sun. At his wedding in 1612, he noted that the wine merchants measured the amount of wine remaining in a barrel with a dipstick held diagonally across the barrel. What he found curious was the fact that the same dipstick was used no matter the shape of the barrel. Surely that couldn't be a precise means to measure the contents. He spent four years on and off studying the measurement of win barrels (by the way, the dipstick did work), and the means that he employed he would then use for astronomical calculations. This led him to his first three laws (Planets move in ellipses with the Sun at one focus, the radius vector describes equal areas in equal times, and the squares of the periodic times are to each other as the cubes of the mean distances). These laws informed Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity as he was looking for the underlying causes leading to Brahe and Kepler's observations.
So there you have it. Like Joe Morgan, Tycho Brahe made observations nightly for years on end. Like Joe, Brahe's avocation, or rather obsession, was related to his occupation-astronomy for the Imperial Mathematician Brahe and baseball for the baseball analyst Morgan. In both cases the points of view were based on the prevailing dogma of the day. In both, their theories were proven wrong eventually (or at least Joe's will be). Also, in both cases, they left large volume of data that was used to inform and advance the research of the day.
To that end, let us delve into this Joe Morgan Chat Day or as Joe would say, "It's time to talk baseball.":
David (New Orleans): Hello Joe, wadda you know? Read your article on the all time greats yesterday. First, do you feel your own statistics would be better/worse/same if you were playing today. Second, I got as excited as anyone when Mark McGwire stepped to the plate, but an all time great? Nothing but home runs, Joe. Speaking of your recent great players, ever heard of Tony Gwynn?? Thanks Joe.
Joe Morgan: Would you compare Gwynn to Mays?
My numbers would be better, but that doesn't mean I'd be a better player.
As for McGwire, a first baseman's job is to produce runs. If you look, he got on base a lot. Any time you hit close to 600 homers and drive in a lot of runs and are an intimidator at the player, that qualifies you.
[Mike: Good insight on the 2002 version of little Joe. Right in the money re. The Gwynn vs. McGwire debate. By the way, McGwire had a .394 on-base percentage, a ,588 slugging average, and his resulting .963 OPS was 68% better than average over his career (with league and park adjustments), good for a tie for eleventh place all-time. Gwynn's OBP was close (.388), but his slugging was 125+ points lower (.459), and his OPS (.847) was only 32% better than average, very good to be sure but not in the top 100 all-time.]
Bryon(Charlotte): What's your opinion on the Situation with Omar's book, revealing that Albert Belle's bat is corked? I know its wrong but isn't there a written rule about what happen in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse?
Joe Morgan: I agree with you 100 percent. I'm sure there are things Omar did he wouldn't like the public to know. It should not have come out.
[Mike: Right, Vizquel continually proves that he is one of the most conceited and narcissistic players in MLB. How he ever got a book deal in the first place is remarkable. By the way, how do we know that his revelations are true? A few spicy prevarications would -and did-help sell his uninteresting bio.]
Kyle, Winneconne WI: Do you think that Greg Maddux can bounce back from his rocky outing last night and fully recover from his back injury to be the Greg Maddux we've seen in the past?
Joe Morgan: He pitched well before last night's bad game. It could have just been a bad day. The back becomes an easy excuse. But he had won a few games already. No one said anything about his back before. I'm sure his back will bother him off and on. It's something he'll have to deal with.
[Mike: Right. Even great pitchers have a bad outing once in a while. The outing they are discussing is a 10-run (6 earned), 4-2/3 inning, 5-walk outing that resulted in an 11-5 loss to Arizona. He had one other outing that was that bad all year, a 7-run (all earned), two-run effort on September 13 against Florida in a 13-3 loss.]
cj_chitown: Do you know what a knuckle-curve is, such as the one thrown by Mike Mussina? I thought knuckle balls had no spin. If a knuckle ball has no spin, how could it also be a curve ball?
Joe Morgan: For a knuckler, you get as many fingertips on it to take the spin off. For a knuckle-curve, you put two fingers on top, and the ball rotates forward. It doesn't rotate as fast, but it does a little. And the ball drops.
[Mike: I thought Charles Johnson left Chitown after the 2000 season. I'm glad that Joe was able to help him with the definition of the pitches he has to catch.]
Darius(Mpls): Joe, I was wondering why you think Mike Piazza doesn't want to leave the catcher position, Is it a comfort thing? You would think he could prolong his career playing another position
Joe Morgan: He's a catcher. To be a good one, it takes a certain mentality. Just like being second baseman takes a certain mentality. He has geared his whole career around catching. It's great he's a catcher. It separates him from everybody else. He may be the greatest hitting catcher of all time. If he played outfield or first base, he wouldn't be the best. He has dedicated himself to catching, and I think that's great.
[Mike: Is that Darius from the of the Minneapolis Mxyztplks? I heard he shortened his last name. Anyway, right you are, Joe. Well, it's hard to predict what his stats would look like without the constant wear and tear from the position of ignorance, but he's entitled to his opinion.]
Syed Omar (Malaysia): Who have the most devestating pitch you ever faced and what pitch was it?
Joe Morgan: I still think the fastball is the toughest pitch to hit, and there have been a lot of variations. Sometimes, a sinking one (like Kevin Brown) or a rising one (like Koufax threw) or a splitter (by Bruce Sutter) are extremely tough. Koufax, Ryan and Gibson had the best fastballs I faced.
[Mike: OK, but I'm a little disappointed Lefty Carlton's slider isn't in there.]
Bash Brother Marques (Mayaguez, PR): I think Jose Canseco can still be productive, inability to field aside. Why doesnt a team such as the Anaheim Angels - who are fielding lite-hitting Scott Spiezio - sign him and make him play first base, if not DH? Anyone can play first base.
Joe Morgan: He was with the Angels last spring, and they released. He was with Montreal, and they released him. I'm a big fan of his, and he did a good job with the White Sox last year. But obviously those teams don't feel the same way we do.
[Mike: Mayaguez? Probably a fan of Los Indios. As far as Canseco is concerned, I'm not sure if the guy can play first base, and not just anyone can, look at Frank Thomas. He's never played first in a major-league game. But Jose Canseco sure can hit. He had an OPS that was 18% percent above an average player (park- and league-adjusted) with Chicago in 2001. His .832 OPS as a DH was good for fourth for DHs with over 200 at-bats (behind Manny Ramirez, Edgar Martinez, Ellis Burks, and Ruben Sierra, not bad company). I never understood what the Expos were doing with him, but he could very easily have been a useful DH somewhere in 2002. I guess that his defensive liabilities, age, and rep had kind of marginalized his career. Now, whether or not he's a Hall-of-Famer...]
miguel: cres que el picheo de atlanta pueda mejorar o se debilitara hasta final de temporada
Joe Morgan: No se.
[Miguel: Quien es mas macho? Joe Morgan es. Creo que el es fresco como un pepino (I think he's as cool as a cucumber). (By the way, Miguel asked if Joe thought that the pitching in Atlanta would improve or worsen for the remainder for the season. "I don't know (No Se)" is a perfectly valid response.)]
Matt (Dallas): Hi Joe! Judging by the start they are off to, what do you think the Rangers are going to do with Pudge Rodriguez if they continue on a downward spiral?
Joe Morgan: I would think if they keep going down and the team doesn't improve, they may try to trade him if he's willing. I still think he's a very valuable part of that club.
[Mike: Pudge is valuable but A-Rod isn't? Pudge is valuable if he's healthy and he hasn't been for over 120 games since 1999. He was a bad bet to be healthy for the whole year this year and wasn't (108 games).]
Peter(Cleveland): Liked your article on the great players playing today. I just thought Maddux was an even greater pitcher because he does so well without intimidating hitters. Isn't it easier to be "great" with great stuff?
Joe Morgan: No. It's not easy to do anything. Then what is greatness? You have to be blessed with ability to be a great player. It's not just working hard. You have to have a certain amount of ability. You are missing the point. My point was all-time greatest pitchers. I would choose Koufax, Gibson and those guys first. The guy who reminds me of them is Johnson. That's the way I view it. Others may view things differently.
[Mike: Joe, you had me until Koufax. Koufax and Gibson were great, but it's a difficult argument to say that they were the greatest of all time. Both were helped a good deal by their circumstances (Koufax by his stadium and Gibson by his era).
Patricio (Santiago, Chile): Do you think the Mariners are better than last year?? Do you think they need another power hitter??
Joe Morgan: I already said they are a better team, but they may not win 116 games. And everybody can use another power hitter. They have enough to win the championship. That doesn't mean they will.
[Mike: This is an unfortunate prediction. Hindsight being 20-20, we all know now that the Mariners had one of the worst dropoffs in history. But could they have looked like a better team a the beginning of the year? The added Ruben Sierra and replaced David Bell with Jeff Cirillo. Joel Piniero would enjoy his first full year in the majors. Sure, Aaron Sele had left but James Baldwin was tabbed to replace him. Who could have known that Ichiro, Garcia, and Olerud would have severe dropoffs in the second half? Who could know that Edgar would miss over a third of the season, that Mikeameron would implode, that Paul Abbott would go from serviceable to awful, or that Bret Boone would have a terrible first half after an MVP-claiber season last year?
Well, I submit that it was a poor prediction, yet one that many made at the beginning of the year. First, the Mariners had key players (Olerud, Martinez, Sierra, McLemore, Cirillo, Boone, Wilson, and Moyer) in important roles. The likelihood of all of them surviving the season without injury or a declining performance was low. Second, Boone was due for a re-adjustment after an anomalous career year. This year was arguably the second best of his career and it was dwarfed by last year's effort. Ichiro was still an unknown commodity: the league adjusted and so far he has not. Howeverm pitching is what killed them. Baldwin and Abbott were choices for players to built a rotation around. When Garcia faded in the second half, there wasn't enough of a staff left to get them back on the A's-Angels level. Joe admits that last year's record would be hard to attain for the 2002 club, but still contends that they improved. I don't see any evidence that that was the case even when things looked rosy in April.]
Joe (Pittsburgh): Hi Joe. I believe you and I were the only people in America to think so at the beginning of the year, but I felt and still feel the Pirates are for real. They will get healthy, Kendall will start hitting, Ramirez and Jack Wilson are poised for career years, the bullpen is very deep, and Kris Benson will boost the starters. Do you still believe in them? Thanks Joe.
Joe Morgan: If I believed in them before they won a game, I guess I still do now that they are 13-7. It's early, but they have the potential to surprise a lot of people. They got off to a good start, and that's what they needed to do.
[Mike: This is a rather unfortunate prediction given that the Pirates ended up 72-89 (59-82 from that point on). I don't know what he saw in this team after 2001. They had a staff ERA over 5. Their best starting pitcher in 2001, Todd Ritchie, had an ERA just shy of 4.50, and he was off to the White Sox. Kip Wells replaced him well, and rookie Josh Fogg was dependable (he was great in April 1.43 ERA), but that's all they had. Their bullpen was a revelation holding the staff ERA down at 4.23. On the offensive side, the still had the incredibly underrated Brian Giles and apparently a budding star in Aramis Ramirez. It was difficult to foresee Ramirez's unfortunate decline in 2002, but he did have three trials prior to 2001 with numbers more in line with this year's. John Vander Wal's bat was gone, but they would have Craig Wilson for an entire season in 2002. They also had great defense up the middle with Jack Wilson and 2002 addition Pokey Reese. But how much better could this team possibly be. They batted .247 with a .706 OPS in 2001. This year was about the same (.244 and .700).]
jake(york): If the White Sox pitching can live up to its potential,and they keep racking up runs,are they a possible World Series contender?
Joe Morgan: They will definitely hit. The question is pitching and how good it is. They are a contender, but you have to have the pitching. It's just too early to tell as far as their pitching is concerned.
[Mike: Well, they had good young pitching but it still needs some time to develop. Each pitcher almost to a man took a slight step back this year. All except Kip Wells, unfortunately he was on the Pirates. The loss of veterans David Well and James Baldwin seemed to put maybe too much pressure on the kids. The ERA remained constant between the two years (4.58 and 4.53). 2003 should be a very interesting year for their staff. Their offensive numbers were almost identical between the two years (.269 batting average and .785-.787 OPS). They were third in runs and fourth in OPS in 2002-that part of the prediction was OK.]
Chris (NYC): I'm a diehard Mets fan and have been dissapointed over their defense especialy with ordonez. Is this just a fluke or should i be getting worried?
Joe Morgan: Defense is like hitting. You go into slumps in both. Defense is more mental than anything. But like hitting, you have to go back to the fundamentals and start over. I think he will straighten himself out. Before the season is over, he will be playing very good defense.
[Mike: "Defense is more mental than anything."-What? Defense is positioning, knowing what the pitcher is throwing and where the batter tends to hit the ball, quickness, speed (using the typical analyst definition of both), good hands, good footwork, and a good arm). There is a mental aspect, but how can it be more mental than anything? "Slumps"? You go into "slumps" defensively when you get hurt or old? Ordonez made 19 errors this year. In 12 more games in 1999, he made only 4. That's quite a difference. His range still is pretty good, but a) he was never that great, b) he is 31 and will only get worse, c) can't hit worth a dime, and d) made $6 M this year and will make $6.25 M next year. That's quite a package. Oh, and as far as "playing very good defense", has he ever been very good? Maybe for the first couple years of his career. He's been pretty good since but see a) through d) above.]
Ryan (Clovis, CA): Joe, in the heyday of your rivalry with the Dodgers in the '70's, who was the player on their team that garnered the most respect from the Reds? Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Joe Morgan: We respected all the players. They had a lot of good ones; it wasn't just one. They had Garvey, Cey, Smith, Lopes, Baker. They had a lot of players who could beat you. There wasn't one player we feared more than another.
[Mike: There's the decisive Joe I love. Just offer an opinion. By the way, I would say that Reggie Smith was the class of this field. An extremely underrated player.]
JOE IS MY HERO!!!!! (Morganville): What team would you consider the nest of all time, besides the 75 reds of course.
Joe Morgan: It's hard to do that. General consensus used to be the '27 Yankees. For some reason, when the Yankees won 114 games, they wanted to compare them to us. When Seattle won 116, nobody thought they were the best. I don't think you can pick the best anymore. Times have changed.
[Mike: Yeah, that was me. Joe, times are always a-changing. Just offer an opinion. They're free. I prefer the Yankees of the late 1930s, but hey, that's me.]
Timothy(San Antonio): Why doesn't Art Howe get credit as a great manager that others receive?
Joe Morgan: Is he a great manager? And what is one? He was a teammate of mine and does a tremendous job. But he hasn't won a championship. I don't know what you consider a great manager. But I think he's done a nice job with the A's. I can't say he's a great manager, though. If you want to, you can.
[Mike: Thanks, Joe. So winning a championship is the be-all and end-all. Gene Mauch never won a championship, and he was a tremendous manager. Actually, I do agree with his assessment of Howe though.]
MIKE(Knoxville, TN): The Expos are in first place. The fans are averaging less than 6,000! IF they make the playoffs, will the fans comes in doves? It would look down-right stupid to see them in the playoffs with a half-empty stadium. What's your thoughts about the Expos's chances this year?
Joe Morgan: The Expos won't draw people. It's a hockey town. They have some good players and are off to a good start. Their confidence is rising. Will they win anything? I'd say it's too early where they would finish.
[Mike: Boston's a hockey town. New York is a hockey town. Detroit's a hockey town. So what? Montreal is a town with fans smart enough not to support a franchise that does not care about them.]
Chris (Sugar Land): Does Paul Konerko's hot start mean he is ready to join the ranks of Jeff Bagwell, Todd Helton, and Jason Giambi amongst baseball's top first baggers?
Joe Morgan: I've been a fan of Konerko's, even when he was a catcher. And he had potential with his bat. But compared to the other three, he has to wait. They have put up great numbers every year. Konerko, though, has a chance to be a very good first baseman.
[Mike: Again Joe wants his young players brimming with years of experience. A great player can and very often will establish his greatness right out of the box. That said, I don't consider Konerko a great player, but I do disagree with Joe's assessment of his chances for being very good. He already is very good. He's been very good since his first year as a starter in 1999. He has hit for power and a decent average, and he gets on base. His OPS has consistently been in the .850 range since 1999. He's not as good as the three Chris mentioned an while you're at it throw in Thome, Sweeney, Palmeiro, and Delgado. Konerko is in the second tier with Olerud, Klesko, Sexson, McGriff, Derrek Lee, and Huff (when he plays first), very fine players all.]
Jeff (Lexington,KY): Joe, I'm a huge Bonds/Giants fan, so I want to know what you think about Barry playing through this hamstring injury. If you were Dusty Baker, would you put him on the 15 day DL?
Joe Morgan: I don't think they want to put him on the DL. He was in a groove, although he's not swinging as well now. If Barry feels he can play, Dusty should let him play. It's Barry's decision. He feels he can work his way through it.
[Mike: Well, you have to weigh Bonds' desire to play with the long-term goals of the team. Barry Bonds is not the only person making this decision, there are trainers, coachers, the manager, etc. Apparently, they did the right thing with the season that Bonds and the Giants had, but I'm sure it wasn't Bonds' decision in a vacuum.]
John Ondrey (Minneapolis, MN): How can Selig say even if the Twins keep winning that it wouldn't change the contraction issue? What is your take on this issue?
Joe Morgan: They don't even have to win; they just have to compete and not be contracted. I don't think any team is in danger except the Expos. If the fans show support, I don't think they will be eliminated. Montreal won't show it wants the team. Right now they don't even care about baseball.
[Mike: Well, the point is now moot, at least until the current CBA expires, but I disagree. Selig said repeatedly that a team's on-field performance had nothing to do with contraction. It was their long-term fiscal state that concerned the powers that be. If the fans supported a team with a stadium lease that prevented them from being viable, they would go on the chopping block. That is, if you believe that contraction was seriously being considered by the owners and not just another chip in the negotiation process. Either way, fan support only entered it into the equation indirectly.]
The Ugly-Like a man with a prosthetic nose
Scottyk77 (kc): Mr. Morgan, I recently read your article, 5 tools of a leadoff man. Why wasn't On Base Percentage at the top of the list. I also noticed that speed was. You can steal first base you know.
Joe Morgan: Just read the article again. I explained it in there why speed is important. On-base percentage only gets you on base. Speed does much more. Mark McGwire on first doesn't disrupt the defense. Sluggers have the highest on-base percentage, but all they can do is stand on first. Speed puts pressure on the defense.
[Mike: I don't know what to say. Let's just first list his 5 tools:
"On-base percentages are overrated for a leadoff hitter"?!? By whom? On-base percentage has been shown to be the best stat to correlate with runs scored. And what do you want from your leadoff hitter but to score runs. And why are speed and stealing bases both listed? Speed is very important. If you have a leadoff hitter who can steal, go from first to third, and break up the double play, that's great. But if he can't get to first, what good is it. Like Tycho Brahe seeing the evidence in front of his eyes for years that the Aristotelian universe was wrong, Morgan has watched the game for years and still cannot see the forest for the trees.]
Nirvana-the best Joe quote ever
Adam(NYC): Joe, I respect your opinion, but you can't compare Barry Bonds to the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, as I heard you a couple of weeks ago, for starters those three gentlemen are winners, and althought I agree with you about the Ted Williams comparison, Barry Bonds can't be put on that level at least until he carries his team out of the division series, which he's had a chance to do plenty times and came back empty
Joe Morgan: First of all, you have to understand baseball. It's tougher in baseball for one player to lead a team to a championship. Bonds hasn't won a championship; I'm talking about individual ability. Teams won't let Barry hit in a lot of situations. One of the weaknesses of baseball is you can stop the best players if you want to, just by walking them and putting them on first base. You couldn't take the ball out of the hands of Jordan, Bird and Magic in basketball, and that's why they won titles.
[Mike: That's not it yet. It's the setup. I just want to say that baseball differs from the others in that the defense holds the ball and can neutralize someone on the offense in certain ways. In the other sports offenses hold the ball and may decide to neutralize a defensive player by ignoring him, i.e., trying to score against a weaker defender. And before we approach perfection, I just want to say that I do not see it as a weakness but rather part of what separates baseball from the other sports. Sorry to interrupt.]
Vern: Joe, I disagree that baseball's weakness is that you can stop the best players by walking them. That proves that baseball is the ultimate team sport in that a single player, no matter how dominant, cannot win a championship himself. That's a good thing, no? Besides, walking Bonds is not the same thing as stopping him. Walks are bad for pitchers, good for hitters. The Giants would be better if Barry walked every at-bat - think of the RBI opportunities for Kent and Sanders.
Joe Morgan: If he walks in every at-bat, who will drive in the other guys? Kent left more guys on base than anyone last year. He should have driven in 150. Part of my reason for doing the column and to broadcast is to help educate the fans. Maybe I'm not doing a good job. You have to understand you can take the best player out of the game. If they walked him every time, he wouldn't have hit 73 homers. Kent would have to drive in 250. That is a weakness, that the stars can be taken out. If they could keep the ball away from Jordan for 48 minutes, how good would he be? The education continues. If they can't do their thing, how good would they be?
[Mike: Lordy Mama, sing the Blues. Educate us, Joe. "The education continues"-that's rich. Pearls of wisdom before us swine.
First, I have to agree that if the opposition walked Bonds every time up, it would be nearly impossible for him to hit 73 home runs.
Kent drove in 106 runs in 2001 batting mostly in the four hole. Bonds batted 3rd. Aurilia 2nd. Calvin Murray and Marvin Bernard led off to the tune of a .315 (!) on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. (But they do have speed.) A motley crew batted fifth (including Snow, Rios, Santiago, Galarraga, Rios, Vander Wal, and Eric Davis) and managed only a .714 OPS. The rest of their offense was about average (except for the #8 spot which had a .756 OPS, the best outside or Aurilia, Bonds, and Kent). The Giants had a three-man offense basically. Could Kent have driven in 250?
Of the 607 at-bats Kent had in 2001, 307 were with the bases empty (remember Bonds' 73 HRs). He did hit 13 home runs with the bases empty. He did have 132 opportunities with a man on 1st only (Bonds after a walk?) and he hit .38 with 3 HRs, 11 RBI, and a .950 Ops. The only glitch in his armor were his 65 at-bats with men on first and second (Aurlia and Bonds?). He batted .185 with 1 HR, 11 RBI, and a .561 OPS. One could offer an explanation that the opposition knew that they had to get Kent in this situation and then it was smooth sailing. Let's just say for the sake of argument that he batted .370 with a 1.122 OPS, double the actual, in this situation. Even if we double his RBI, it would only put him at 117. 250 seems a bit farfetched.
Now as to the argument that the opposition took Bonds out of the game by walking him, Bonds scored his usual 120+ runs in 2001. Since 1993 Bonds has scored in the 120 range in each of his full seasons. (Bonds dropped to 117 this year, but did miss 19 games.) So it didn't hamper his scoring. As far as his driving in runs, his career high was 137 in 2001. San Fransisco ended up 10th in the majors in runs scored with no one leading off, great hitters batting 2 through 4, and mediocrity from there on. That seems pretty good to me.]
Joe, beautiful divine spark, etc.
[Note: the basis for the Brahe research was James Burke's wonderful The Day the Universe Changed television series and book.]
Fixing a Whole, II Regarding
Fixing a Whole, II
Regarding #13 on my list of baseball woes, Ticket prices. I received the following email from Scott A. McConnell:
I really enjoy your blog, however I think you are completely wrong when you
Towit I responded:
Thanks for the email and for keeping me honest. You are correct. Ticket prices themselves have not risen significantly for the past 50 years, and I was being imprecise in saying so. I am familiar with the Zimbalist research and it is very compelling. What I meant (and this is based on the three stadia in my vicinity Vets, Shea, and Yankee) was that the entire baseball experience soup, or rather parking, to nuts was too expensive.
Fixing a Whole Peter Gammons
Fixing a Whole
Peter Gammons writes that there are 25 things wrong with baseball. My first reaction was, "That's all?" After reading it, I am left wondering if Peter Gammons actually watches the game of baseball or just sits in back rooms schmoozing GMs. Those are the "people who care about baseball", to whom he refers.
I do agree with his intro:
One thing the National Football League does much better than Major League Baseball is address conventional thinking and tradition and make annual changes to better the sport, and the business. Baseball has had trouble differentiating between tradition and traditional thinking.
But from there it's all down hill (J.D. Souther?).
Here are his 25 venal baseball sins-for each of which Bud Selig will have to spent 25 years in Montreal as punishment-and my reactions to each:
1. Teams that allow public relations to dictate personnel and organizational decisions.
That's his number one? It goes without saying. No baseball exec will admit that he allowed PR to rule a decision, but it is an entertainment business, and it needs to attract the public via its relationships with them. It's a balancing act. Some teams do it better than others. Some do it more wisely than others. And some have a little more luck than others. It's not an exact science however.
The Phillies for example have ignored (quality) free agents for years, and the results are an inferior product and poor fan support. They are attempting to lure back that fan base with free agent signings in anticipation of moving into a new stadium in 2004. The deals are a bit overly generous, but with their frugality over the years and their market size, they can afford it. The long-term deals may be unwise in and of themselves especially in this off-season's baseball economy, but if they help lure fans back to the stadium, the Phils may be able to swallow them with ease. One could argue that if the Phils had made wise investments in the past (Danny Tartabull?) and fielded a quality product all along, they wouldn't be in a position where they had to create a buzz to entice the fans back. But as David St. Hubbins once said, "That's nit-picking, isn't it?"
2. The notion that a team absolutely has to have a closer...
This is a matter of strategy. At times having a Dennis Eckersley on your staff makes sense. At other times, employing a bullpen by committee is the way to go. A team that designates a player to be the closer when it is inappropriate to do so, will pay for the poor decision. It boils down to how well a team evaluates its talent and uses that talent to its fullest. However, I wouldn't call it a problem.
By the way, Beane traded for the ever-average Billy Koch. The A's reliance on him hasn't helped of late.
3. No-trade clauses.
No-trade clauses have been a bit of a sticky wicket of late with a couple of high-profile trades being held up and even dropped because of them. He quotes a GM who calls them "extortion licenses." Basically, this is on the list because of Gammons frequent hobnobbing with the GMs.
A no-trade clause is just a concession-some would say a sop-given to a player to retain his services. No one holds a gun to the GMs head to force him to offer a no-trade clause. Likewise, the owners have negotiated the so-called "five-and-ten" rule, which states that no player with five years with his current team and ten years in total cannot be traded without his consent. The rule applied to both Williams and Walker in the failed Colorado-Arizona trade, but they also may have no-trade clauses stipulated in their contracts.
The idea was to reward players for their long service and loyalty or to assure free agents that the deal they are signing will not change without their consent. The GMs can stop offering no-trade clauses but will have to make it up to the players with higher salaries (well, maybe not in this economy). How would you feel if you were told that your company has traded you to a sister company in Cleveland and you have to pick up stakes and move, now! Oh, and you have no say in the matter.
There are tons of these incentives built into contracts: loans, bonuses, gifts to charities, deferred payments, etc. Why not stop offering achievement-based incentives (All-Star game appearances, coming in 7th in MVP voting, etc.)? When you sign A-Rod to a $25 M-per-year contract, it's understood that the expectation is that he will perform at the highest level.
All of these incentives are used by creative GMs to acquire and retain talent. None are just given out as the quoted GM states. They are part of the negotiation process. Good GMs use them well; bad ones complain to Gammons about them.
4. American League teams that bunt before the seventh inning.
In the 1132 games played during the 2002 season, there were 262 bunts in the AL before the seventh inning. Do they really constitute such a large problem for the sport?
He goes on to quote a GM who supports the idea of an automatic bunt given that the extra out you lose lessens your chance of scoring. Well, that's a GM with a firm grasp for the obvious. Bunts lessen the chance for the big inning. When used properly and executed well in the right situation, they help increase the odds of scoring one run. Overuse of any strategy is bad, but it's especially bad with the bunt because even when successful it costs you an out. Good managers know when to use this strategy, and bad ones don't.
Beside, for the last four seasons bunts per plate appearance are at a historic low. They are almost 50% lower than they were in 1978 and about half of what they were in 1946. This is a non-issue.
5. That baseball allows pennants to be decided by minor leaguers.
I agree that it is a bit unfair to allow September call-ups to affect the result of a pennant race, but what's the alternative? No September call-ups? If you allow just the non-contenders to recall players from the minors in the last month of the season, then they get an unfair advantage. If you have no call-ups, then teams will be unable to transition jobs to young players in anticipation of the next season without cutting the veteran he is replacing. Getting to see young players in actual major-league games is invaluable for teams evaluating their prospects for the upcoming season.
This situation is not ideal, but I think that it's the best solution possible right now.
6. "While we're at it," adds one AL executive, "how about enforcing the rules on transactions?
First, let me say that no rules were broken when Francisco Rodriguez joined the Angels in the playoffs. He replaced a player on the 60-day DL, which the rules state is OK.
The problem is not in enforcing the rules but in the wording of the rules themselves. The rules should stipulate that the player that is being replaced must play during the season, or even better after the All-Star game, prior to getting injured. As the rule currently stands, a team cam promote a player on the minor-league DL to get the extra spot for the playoffs. No one wants to see a player being played out of position to fill in for a player injured after August 31. But by the same token, no one wants another ringer brought up just prior to the playoffs. Just close that loophole.
7. Players who slide into first base.
Yeah, it's dumb, but isn't this just a pet peeve.
8. "The entire Montreal situation continues to embarrass baseball," offers one executive.
This is the first item that belongs on the list. What MLB is doing with this franchise, its players, its staff, and its fans is deplorable. Of course, the GM-minded Gammons is just concerned with potential trades that may be a conflict of interest.
9. Meaningless steals of third base.
"Meaningless steals", isn't that redundant? Who cares?
10. Empty dugouts during close games.
Yeah, another pet peeve. Who cares?
11. One NL GM asks why have a tie game when rain is an issue?
Why not just keep the rule, and just play the game in its entirety as soon as possible, even if it forces a (gasp!) doubleheader?
12. The best-of-five Division Series.
Right. Go to seven games and add a few doubleheaders during the year. They say they cannot add the extra two games without shortening the schedule. So why did we have to wait four days between the league championship series and the World Series this year?
13. The stigma against right-handed pitchers under 6-foot-1.
This is a problem? Kind of like MLB's Stupendous Scenarios calling a season a moment. Besides, who cares? It gets back to evaluating talent and doing it well or not.
14. Traditionalist baseball thinking that continues to draft and sign far more high school than college players.
See 13. The smart GMs have already figured this out.
15. Speaking of scouting: Why do so many teams hire friends or enthusiasts based on how little they can pay them, to determine whom they draft and sign and build their organizations?
Again bad organizations make bad decisions. It's not really an endemic problem with the sport.
16. The fact that the Gold Gloves Awards are handed to three outfielders...
True, but the awards are a joke anyway. Who cares? Why not define the MVP award to get rid of the annual egg baseball has to remove from its face. What about the Gold Glove Rafael Palmeiro won in 1999 for playing 28 games at first base?
17. Teams not taking infield practice, at least four times a week.
Heaven forefend!?! Who cares?
18. Lack of change in the arbitration process.
What change? Arbitration was an owner-proposed compromise that they negotiated with the players years ago. Would you rather have every player become a free agent after his first year?
19. Armor on hitters.
The whole hits batsmen situation stinks and should by addressed. First, why are players allowed to erase the back line of the box and why are they not required to stay within the box? Eckstein is one to talk. He doesn't even avoid being hit. He just turns into the ball to get a free pass. As far as body armor: first, they should be more strict in allowing players to wear the stuff. If a player does need it for medical reasons, let him wear it but don't compensate him for being hit on it. Just don't count it as part of his equipment. If he gets hit on his prosthetic, then the ball is dead and the ump makes a ball-strike call. He is allowed to protect against injury but is not unfairly compensated for the protection.
20. The notion that a leadoff hitter has to be fast.
Brian Downing figured this out a while ago. Again, how it is a problem is beyond me. If a team cannot properly evaluate its talent, it's their own problem not the sport's.
21. National League managers who intentionally walk the eighth hitter.
Again this is a strategy that should not be overused. Oh, and who cares?
22. Radar-gun readings determining a pitcher's worth.
So now all of baseball's problems boil down to managers not knowing when to employ a given stratagem or GMs not being able to evaluate talent. See 15.
23. "Uniforms," says one AL executive, "that aren't uniform.
Who cares? Teams have always tried to spruce things up to draw fans and now to sell merchandising. (see 1916 Giants and satin uniforms for night games).
24. One National League GM insists "we need stricter consequences for an intentional walk. Should an intentional walk advance all baserunners? Fans should be allowed to enjoy Barry Bonds more, even if it beats us."
A) The only alternatives that remotely make sense are to outlaw the intentional walk or (as Neyer proposed) to reward the recipient with two bases to make the defense think twice before so freely issuing them. I think no change is the best answer because...
B) Aside from Barry Bonds, intentional walks are down. Here are the totals since they started recording intentional walks in 1955:
Year BB IBB % IBB TPA IBB/TPA R R/TPA 1955 9044 722 7.98% 95025 0.76% 11068 0.1165 1956 8997 783 8.70% 95231 0.82% 11031 0.1158 1957 8167 740 9.06% 95386 0.78% 10636 0.1115 1958 8127 679 8.35% 94143 0.72% 10578 0.1124 1959 8184 707 8.64% 94714 0.75% 10853 0.1146 1960 8384 729 8.70% 94771 0.77% 10664 0.1125 1961 9897 732 7.40% 109568 0.67% 12940 0.1181 1962 10936 818 7.48% 124540 0.66% 14461 0.1161 1963 9591 933 9.73% 122336 0.76% 12780 0.1045 1964 9621 1015 10.55% 122980 0.83% 13123 0.1067 1965 10036 1130 11.26% 122749 0.92% 12945 0.1055 1966 9331 1088 11.66% 121677 0.89% 12900 0.1060 1967 9665 1295 13.40% 121839 1.06% 12210 0.1002 1968 9156 1223 13.36% 120816 1.01% 11109 0.0919 1969 13429 1436 10.69% 148181 0.97% 15849 0.1070 1970 13727 1464 10.67% 149312 0.98% 16880 0.1131 1971 12535 1396 11.14% 146685 0.95% 15073 0.1028 1972 11727 1378 11.75% 139947 0.98% 13706 0.0979 1973 13100 1357 10.36% 148777 0.91% 16372 0.1100 1974 12963 1353 10.44% 148831 0.91% 16041 0.1078 1975 13402 1338 9.98% 148596 0.90% 16291 0.1096 1976 12391 1156 9.33% 147576 0.78% 15486 0.1049 1977 13757 1297 9.43% 161517 0.80% 18798 0.1164 1978 13566 1338 9.86% 159165 0.84% 17247 0.1084 1979 13601 1366 10.04% 160357 0.85% 18712 0.1167 1980 13190 1435 10.88% 161186 0.89% 18053 0.1120 1981 8868 895 10.09% 105880 0.85% 11146 0.1053 1982 13301 1319 9.92% 161017 0.82% 18105 0.1124 1983 13518 1379 10.20% 160590 0.86% 18166 0.1131 1984 13320 1270 9.53% 160538 0.79% 17915 0.1116 1985 13838 1337 9.66% 160305 0.83% 18215 0.1136 1986 14227 1289 9.06% 160835 0.80% 18543 0.1153 1987 14389 1287 8.94% 161891 0.79% 19883 0.1228 1988 12984 1367 10.53% 159365 0.86% 17378 0.1090 1989 13528 1446 10.69% 160016 0.90% 17402 0.1088 1990 13852 1384 9.99% 160301 0.86% 17918 0.1118 1991 13984 1228 8.78% 160730 0.76% 18127 0.1128 1992 13682 1315 9.61% 160516 0.82% 17340 0.1080 1993 15110 1477 9.77% 174546 0.85% 20862 0.1195 1994 11131 1008 9.06% 124472 0.81% 15751 0.1265 1995 14240 1105 7.76% 156691 0.71% 19554 0.1248 1996 16088 1341 8.34% 177219 0.76% 22827 0.1288 1997 15666 1168 7.46% 175512 0.67% 21602 0.1231 1998 16447 1067 6.49% 188257 0.57% 23297 0.1238 1999 17891 1105 6.18% 189677 0.58% 24690 0.1302 2000 18238 1210 6.63% 190242 0.64% 24971 0.1313 2001 15806 1383 8.75% 186961 0.74% 23199 0.1241 2002 16250 1452 8.94% 186647 0.78% 22411 0.1201 Total 602882 56740 9.41% 6978113 0.81% 795108 0.1139 Avg 12560 1182 9.53% 145377 0.82% 16565 0.1132
Note that the totals for 2002 are well below average. They are about a third higher than three or four years ago, but much lower than they were 10 years ago.
Note also that as runs go up, intentional walks drop. They become a less desirable strategy. However, scoring has remained high for so long in the last 10 years that the IBBs have started to go back up in the last two years. Evidently, the strategy of walking the opposition's power hitter holds sway. Once that approach has been tried for a long enough time, if it is found lacking, the smart teams will disregard it.
Again it is not a problem per se, but I wouldn't argue if they changed the compensation to two bases. As long as they realize that there will be a number of consequences resulting from that change.
25. The notion that shortstops must be plus runners with guns for arms.
The notion that professional writers should be able to write coherent, complete sentences. Again, GM's are angry because they can't evaluate talent properly.
Just for fun here's my list:
1) Bud Selig: too much baggage and questionable activity.
Baseball Matters to 20K John
Baseball Matters to 20K
John J Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters reports that his site has just crossed the 20K-visitor threshold. You'll recall that John recently ran a Pete Rose summit acting as a sort of piazza (not that there's anything wrong with it) for the internet intelligentsia -and even me- to present their ideas. John has always been a creative blogger and a supportive comrade on the net. Go check out his site and help him get to 50K soon.
The Tolling of the Iron
The Tolling of the Iron Bell Calls the Faithful to Their Knees
The Phils signed free-agent third baseman David Bell today to a 4-year, $17 million contract. Hopes are that this will be the first of three signings-Jim Thome an Tom Glavine being the others. And it is encouraging to hear that Bell turned down a similar proposal from his old team, the Giants, especially since I was just beginning to feel that the Phils would be used by all the free agents to elicit better deals elsewhere:
"So many factors went into this decision," Bell said. "But I had to go with what I felt in my heart, and I felt that going to the Phillies was where I wanted to be."
Bell's career with the Phils will inevitably be compared to the man whom he replaces, Scott Rolen. Rolen was traded to the Cardinals during the 2002 season because his relationship with the team had soured after they had failed to work out a new deal in the off-season. It is an unfair comparison for Bell. Bell is not as good a player as Rolen either at the plate or in the field. Also, Rolen is three years Bell's junior, though Bell will be thre years younger when his deal runs out than Rolen would be at the end of the proposed Phils' deal. Bell showed me during the playoffs that he is a better all-around than I had been led to believe though he will have the occasional lapse in the field. One thing to keep in mind is that the Phils' last offer to Rolen was 10 years at $140 M. Bell is considerably cheaper and relatively cheap when you see salaries like $4.25 M to Neifi Perez and $6.25 to Rey Ordonez bandied about. If the Phils can sign Jim Thome to $75 M contract, they would have signed two productive players for about $50 M less than they were willing to pay Rolen (though over a longer period of time). That would be a pretty good turnaround.
New York Three-Way The New
New York Three-Way
The New York Daily News reports that the Yankees, Mets, and Rockies are putting together a three-way trade. In the trade the Rockies would rid themselves of Denny Neagle and some of his remaining three remaining seasons at $37 M ($9 M in 2003 and 2004, $10 M in 2005, plus a $9M buyout of $12.5 M in 2006). The money would be distributed among the three teams ($10 M from each of the New York teams spread over three years and $8M plus the $9 M buyout from the Rockies). Colorado would get either Jeromy Burnitz or Rey Ordonez from the Mets and Rondell White and Raul Mondesi from the Yankees, all of whom are in their last year of their present contract. The Rockies would assume the $5 M for White's contract, the $7 M Yankee portion for Mondesi's (he receives $13 M in total with the remainder having been assumed by Toronto as part of its trade with the Yankees), $6.25 M for Ordonez, and/or $11.5 for Burnitz. The Mets would get Neagle (who will again be paid by the Yankees without actually playing for them), and the Yankees would get a whole lot of nothing.
One baseball source is quoted as saying:
"It's a pretty creative idea."
So was charging interest. It doesn't mean we have to like it.
The reason each team is doing it is a testament to the virulent nature of the concessions the players made in the last labor agreement. The teams are all trading their own mistakes to gain certain advantages under the vitiated CBA.
The Yankees, in trading two former starters and taking on $10 M in payments to a player who will never wear a Yankee uniform while he is paid, free up almost $9 M in payroll for 2003. They acquired too many overpriced outfielders in 2003 and needed to reduce their payroll to take less of a hit from revenue sharing and the luxury tax.
The Rockies are retooling their staff with young, low-priced starters (why not?). Taking on large salaries for 2003 is preferable to paying Neagle larger sums over three years while actually having to pitch him. The will have rid themselves of both Mike Hampton's and Neagle's contracts, a major coup. They will, however, have added three starting outfielders. They already have the nearly-traded Larry Walker, mid-season pickup Jay Payton, and Preston Wilson, who they acquired in the Hampton deal. That's pretty crowded, but then again their off-season moves may not yet be done.
The Mets would rid themselves of some high-priced dead weight and add a potentially useful arm.
If this goes through after the Hampton trade, I wouldn't be surprised to see teams start trading parts of contracts while actually retaining the players. It's gotten to the point where the contracts involved are more important than the players. It'sgoing to take us a few years to evaluate the new CBA, but I get the feeling that after the current contracts run out, things will be very different. And I'm not talking about the high-end contracts, the death knell of which the media are currently ringing. I mean the mid-tier $5-$10 M-per-year contracts.
It's exactly what Andrew Zimbalist predicted at the beginning of last year in the article entitled Competitive Balance in Majo League Baseball:
The real impact would come indirectly, through the incentive effect of this local revenue tax. Assuming the tax was set at 50 percent, each increment to a team's net local revenue would be reduced by 48.3 percent. This is because half would be taken away by the tax and 1.67 percent would be returned by the equal distribution from the pool to each club. .Now, suppose Steinbrenner were contemplating signing Johnny Damon and estimated that, with Damon in the Yankee outfield, the team would generate an additional $16 million in annual local revenue. Without the local revenue tax, Steinbrenner should be willing to offer Damon any salary up to $16 million. With the tax, he should be willing to offer only $8.27 million [$16 million X (1 0.483)].
Actually, the new CBA sets revenue sharing at 34%, but there is also a 17% luxury tax for payrolls over $117 M, which the Yankees most probably will exceed. The Yankees own one 29th of the Expos so one would anticipate them receiving one 29th not one 30th of the revenue sharing distributions. However, the first phase of the Central Revenue Fund begins in 2003. It is set initially to around $43.5 M (but gradually increases to $72.2 by 2005) and is paid by the net payers (including the Yankees). Therefore, the amount that the Yankees' can spend on new payroll would be reduced by potentially more than the 48.3% that Zimbalist suggests.
Looking at it this way, I think that the plan that went through is potentially worse for the sport than a salary cap. A cap would at least be far to all parties. This is a rather blunted tool to deal with competitive balance. It clearly is an extremely precise one when it comes to dealing with players' salaries however.
Yankees Brassed Off, Maybe They
Yankees Brassed Off, Maybe They Were Expecting Gamera?
The Yankees brass apparently left Japan without meeting with free agent Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui, which was the apparent goal of their visit. This article implies that his disappointing All-Star Series performance had something to do with it, but Brain Cashman and his coterie left as the series was ending. Perhaps the Yankees changed their minds in acquiring another potential high-salary outfielder until the jettison one or two of their current ones.
Musical Bleachers Seats I am
Musical Bleachers Seats
I am getting the feeling that the Phillies are being used by the three free agents that they are avidly pursuing (Jime Thome, Tom Glavine, and David Bell) to drive up the offers from their other pursuers. Both Bell and Thome have gone back to their teams from 2002 and asked for them to up the ante while Glavine will play his three wooers against each other to get the four-year contract he desires. It may just that they are bargaining in good faith, but I get the feeling-and maybe this is just a good old normal inferiority complex that attends all Phillies' fans-that none of these players intends to play for the lowly Phils, especially after their rather public feud with their former star, Scott Rolen.
Perhaps the Phillies will find that you can't run your team like a White Castle franchise for 10 years and then expect people to believe you when you act like Tavern On The Green. Even if the money is what they crave, the players know better.
Glavine-izing Tom Glavine is the
Tom Glavine is the belle of the ball. He has three suitors and now must decide with whom he will dance next. The Mets seem the most dashing, offering $28.5 over the next three years. But diamonds alone are not a lefty's best friend. It seems that the young caller must also provide an additional year to win over the heart of our blushing Brave:
"I want to have the opportunity to win 300 games, and I think in order to do that, I have to pitch four (more) years. So I don't want to make a decision and in three years have to find a team to pitch for in the fourth year. That fourth year is an important part of it."
Tom Glavine will be 37 at the start of next season. In four years if Euclid serves, he will be 40. Glavine is coming off a fine season in which he went 18-11 with a 2.96. He has won two Cy Young awards and by all accounts already has a plaque reserved with his likeness in Cooperstown. But our young Tom wants to make sure that the he is settled long enough to win the 58 games necessary to reach the 300-win plateau. One could answer that if he were that close to 300 wins after three seasons, the team that he signs with will dole over whatever he wants to lock him up for a now once-in-a-lifetime event, a pitcher's 300th win, which will generate a good deal of press and fan interest. Tom is just trying to wheedle the extra year with his high market value today.
I would rather take him at his word and assume that the four years that he yearns for are to lock up the milestone, but it made me wonder how often a Hall-of-Fame pitcher indeed wn that many games in the four seasons after his 37th birthday. Well here they are, let's see:
FirstName LastName Threw W L ERA WHIP K:BB WARREN SPAHN L 85 49 3.13 1.18 1.98 CY YOUNG R 78 71 2.20 0.96 5.16 PHIL NIEKRO R 73 69 3.40 1.29 1.86 EDDIE PLANK L 70 43 2.43 1.10 2.25 DAZZY VANCE R 64 51 2.93 1.17 2.86 GAYLORD PERRY R 63 43 3.09 1.20 2.55 EARLY WYNN R 63 55 3.78 1.35 1.59 PETE ALEXANDER R 60 36 2.98 1.18 1.55 DON SUTTON R 54 44 3.67 1.22 2.45 LEFTY GROVE L 53 23 3.11 1.32 1.63 STEVE CARLTON L 52 42 3.25 1.25 2.56 TED LYONS R 47 35 3.36 1.27 1.67 TOM SEAVER R 45 49 3.82 1.27 1.78 RED FABER R 45 38 3.87 1.40 0.95 NOLAN RYAN R 42 47 3.25 1.18 2.61 EPPA RIXEY L 42 51 4.05 1.41 0.75 WALTER JOHNSON R 40 29 3.68 1.28 1.59 JESSE HAINES R 37 22 3.65 1.41 1.18 CARL HUBBELL L 37 33 3.84 1.34 1.49 MORDECAI BROWN R 33 22 2.91 1.18 1.71 HOYT WILHELM R 32 33 2.63 1.09 2.74 BURLEIGH GRIMES R 30 32 4.26 1.50 0.78 RED RUFFING R 29 13 3.37 1.20 1.47 HERB PENNOCK L 29 15 4.39 1.53 1.50 ROBIN ROBERTS R 28 24 3.29 1.22 2.52 JIM BUNNING R 28 37 4.22 1.34 2.38 BOB GIBSON R 26 33 3.69 1.36 1.48 FERGIE JENKINS R 25 32 3.83 1.37 1.90 STAN COVELESKI R 21 13 3.60 1.47 0.53 JOE MCGINNITY R 11 7 2.27 1.23 1.49 WAITE HOYT R 8 12 3.54 1.31 1.66 JIM PALMER R 5 7 5.15 1.53 1.06 WHITEY FORD L 4 9 2.15 1.30 1.94 RUBE MARQUARD L 3 10 4.83 1.65 0.73 ROLLIE FINGERS R 2 8 3.64 1.27 2.00 BOB FELLER R 0 4 4.97 1.48 0.78 DIZZY DEAN R 0 0 0.00 1.00 0.00 JUAN MARICHAL R 0 1 13.50 2.67 0.20 CLARK GRIFFITH R 0 1 7.55 2.38 1.00 BOB LEMON R 0 1 5.34 2.25 0.50
I think that Glavine will find a way to wrangle an extra year out of one of the teams, most likely the pitching-poor Mets. I think that the odds that Glavine will be a productive pitcher for all four of those years is low. He has had a few unimpressive years in with his great ones (e.g., 1988-'90, '94, and '99). I think the odds are good that at least one of those four years will again be unimpressive for Glavine. The odds would apparently increase as he gets older. I also think that he will get close enough to 300 that he will be able to hang on long enough to achieve that goal. The cautionary tale of Bert Blyleven should be incentive enough.
No Deal! The four-for-one Diamondbacks-Rockies
The four-for-one Diamondbacks-Rockies deal is no more. Whether Matt Wiliams or Larry Walker invoked his no-trade clause was not revealed, but neither player was happy with the terms. Walker was asked to defer $25 M of his contract by the D-Backs, and Williams would have a child custody issue with his three kids now living in Arizona.
Bush Leaguer In this week's
In this week's episode of "Love that Ari":
Fleischer. Ari Fleischer.
Oh, Canada? With all the
With all the bad press Montreal has been receiving over the years as a poor baseball city, the perception that Canadians would rather watch checking Czechs than an expert Expo or a bashing Blue Jay has become a common one. ESPN reports that a new independent league, the Canadian Baseball League, is willing to put that assertion to the test. They are scheduled to begin play next May with eight teams across Canada, including one team in Montreal. The Royales-the name that the Montreal team will bear, a nod to Jackie Robinson's first team in white organized ball-may even play in Le Stade Olympique though the rental fees may be too high. But wouldn't it be the first time Canadians formed their own league. They have even had independent leagues in their past.
Canadian organized baseball dates back to 1864 when the Young Canadian club of Woodstock, Ontario, fell victim, 75-11, to the seminal Atlantics of Brooklyn, who were en route to a undefeated (20-0-1) season. That year the Atlantics tallied the best record in the National Association of Base Ball Players, baseball's first organization. Woodstock would not play another NABBP team until 1868 when they again were bested by the Atlantics, 30-17 (this year the Atlantics ended at 47-7, good for the second best record behind the 47-3 Athletic club of Philadelphia). The Young Canadians would never formally join the NABBP, but they would play five games in total over five years against the organization's teams, losing them all.
In 1869, the first Canadian team joined organized ball, the Maple Leaf club of Guelph, Ontario. Guelph proved to be something of a powerhouse, going 8-2 in its two years in the NABBP. The organization pulled apart in 1871 as the professional teams re-organization as the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players and the NABBP added the qualifier "Amateur" to its moniker before fading into oblivion. (By the way, here is a re-print of an 1868 Guelph-Woodstock game report).
The Guelph Maple Leafs later joined the "minor" league International Association when it was created in 1877. That season proved to be their last as they finished 4-12. The champion of the league was also Canadian-the 13-4 London Tecumsehs. The Tecumsehs lasted one more year, and then the league bereft of international teams reorganized as the one-year National Association. The London Tecumsehs were again a charter member of the International Association when it re-organized in 1888. London had professional baseball until 1941. Tecumsehs was the nickname of choice until the team renamed itself Indians in 1925. London also had an Eastern League team called the Tigers from 1989 to 1993.
The earliest Canadian league was the independent Ontario League in 1884, which became the Candiam League in 1885 and promptly folded. The first Canadian league in organized ball was formed in 1899. The six-team league featured clubs in London, Woodstock (via Stratford), Guelph, Hamilton, Chatham and St. Thomas. The last two teams folded on July 4 and the league continued as a four-team circuit. London won the title with a 62-28 record, 15 games ahead of second-place Hamilton. The league reformed as the International league in 1900 after adding U.S. teams in the Great Lakes area. Other Candian leagues fielded teams in 1905, 1911-1915, and 1936-1951 (the late great Class-C Canadian-American League).
Montreal itself has a proud baseball tradition, first fielding a team in 1890 in the old Eastern League (forebear of today's International League) after the Hamilton, Ontario, club folded and was shifted to the infant baseball town. Montreal played in the IL in 1890, 1897-1917, and 1928-1960. The Royals were the last minor-club to represent the city before the Expos were created in 1969.
Toronto's entry into organized ball pre-dates Montreal's. The first Toronto club was in the independent Ontario League in 1884. The team, the Canucks, shifted to the International League in 1886 and remained there until the league folded in 1890. A new Canucks club was organized as a charter member of the old Eastern League in 1895 and remained in that circuit (again today's International League) until 1967, eventually changing its name to the Maple Leafs. This was the last pro team in Toronto until the Blue Jays formed in 1977.
Well, there you have it. The next time you hear some sports radio host opining that Canadians just don't have the capacity to understand a sport that doesn't use a flat ball and a stick or that isn't played on a 110-yard field, just remember that you know better.
Neifi-tism John J Perricone reports
John J Perricone reports that Neifi Perez must be paid a minimum of $3.28 M for 2003 by the Giants, who claimed him on waivers yesterday. He made $4.1 M in 2002 and cannot have his pay cut more than 20%.
Also, if the Giants had waited until after he cleared waivers, then they could have signed him as a free-agent at any price above league minimum. Since the only team that could have claimed him after the Giants was the Angels (teams access the waiver wire in reverse order according to their finish this past season), they could have easily obtained him after he cleared waivers. Maybe they were afraid of the extravagant offers that were awaiting Perez once he became a free agent.
This cannot be viewed as anything but a tactical error by GM Brian Sabean.
Liberty Bell? Free-agent third baseman
Free-agent third baseman David Bell has extended his stay in Philadelphia and may be close to a deal with the Phillies. The Daily News further substantiates my assessment that the Phils would move Polanco to second should they sign Bell.
Free-agent Tom Glavine will visit Hoagie-town tonight.
By the way, the Phillies left two open spots on their forty-man roster.
Lyle Lyle Diamondback The Arizona
Lyle Lyle Diamondback
The Arizona Diamondbacks currently await a decision by Matt Williams to waive his no-trade clause and accept being a part of a 4-for-1 deal to the Rockies. Meanwhile, aside from a gentleman's agreement between Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo and veteran free agent Mark Grace, the D-Backs will have no players with major-league experience at first base should the deal clear. Grace should re-sign soon and rather than debate whether or not that is a good thing, I wanted to suggest that another option is available. Why not hand the first base job to 25-year-old rookie Lyle Overbay. Overbay surely will get significant playing time and will take over the job in 2004, but why not give him the job now and re-sign Grace in a supporting role.
At 38, Grace finally started to show his age. His vaunted defense is now below the park-adjusted league average. His .737 OPS in 124 games was below average. His batting average (.252) was below .280 for the first time in his career. His doubles and home runs were way down. I cannot foresee the Diamondbacks returning to the playoffs with Grace playing more than a supporting role.
Overbay was their 2001 minor-league player of the year in Double-A. In 2002, he batted .343 with 19 home runs, 40 doubles, 83 runs, 109 runs batted in, .525 slugging percentage, a .392 on-base percentage, and a .917 OPS in 525 at-bats at Triple-A Tucson in 2002. Overbay has been unimpressive in two short September stints with the D-Backs over the last two years. This year he drew only 10 pinch-hit assignments with one hit (a single), one RBI, and five strikeouts. In two years he has two hits in twelve at-bats with 6 strikeouts and no walks. That alone tells me that the D-Backs are not looking to him having a starting role for 2003, but I think it's a mistake.
Let's look at the trade as a whole and determine what its ramifications are for both teams. The D-Backs who are supposed to be strapped for cash will be trading four players who combined will make less about $1 million less in 2003 than Larry Walker ($12.5 M). Matt Williams will get $10 M in 2003, which is the last year of his contract. Erubiel Durazo and David Dellucci made $375 K and $775 K respectively in 2002 (I couldn't find Bret Prinz's figures but it's likely around $300 K). Not only that but Walker has at least three years and $38.5 M owed him.
Walker will fit in nicely with Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez giving the D-Backs a very good outfield in 2003. Walker is one of the few Rockie players whose road numbers are respectable: 1.124 OPS at home .917 away in 2002. He has also hit well at Bank One Ballpark. Over the last four years, he has a .364 batting average, 13 runs, 2 home runs, 12 runs batted in, and a .949 OPS in 85 at-bats at the BOB. It does suggest that his home run total, which projects out to 11 in a season (based on his 477 2002 ABs), may drop off, but of course this is based on a small sample of data.
With Williams gone, Craig Counsell will apparently take over permanently at third. I cannot say that having corner infielders with a .699 (Counsell) and .737 (Grace) OPS is a good thing. But they do seem to like the Craig Counsell in Arizona.
Durazo's and Delucci's departure thins the bench, especially as far as left-handed bats are concerned. Only switch-hitting Quinton McCracken and Overbay/Grace currently will be available for left-handed pinch-hitting duties. Prinz was not on the playoff roster and is expendable.
Arizona increases their payroll and weakens themselves at the corner infield positions and in depth off the bench. Walker seems like a good match but is getting older and will be 39 in 2005 and will make $12.5 M.
Colorado is revamping their team based on a philosophy that fully embraces their offensively minded ballpark:
General manager Dan O'Dowd has finally admitted his initial philosophy about how you win in Denver -- with speed and pitching -- was a good try, but incorrect..."That approach just doesn't work," said O'Dowd. "I understand that now. In Denver, pitching is neutralized and speed is no factor, except on defense. And defensively, it only helps you in the middle of the diamond. The rest of your lineup needs to be offense-based. You just can't build a team here the same way you build it anywhere else." (ESPN)
Williams will take over for the departing Todd Zeile at third. The outfield will be an amalgam of the Dellucci, just-acquired Preston Wilson, Gabe Kapler, Jay Payton, Ben Patrick, and Jack Cust. Durazo, if he accepts a move from first, may join that mix. More likely the Rockies will look to trade Durazo to one of the many clubs that need a first baseman right now (the Red Sox, Braves, and whoever loses the Thome sweepstakes-the Indians or Phils-come to mind). Prinz will become one of many arms sacrificed to the homer gods of Coors.
I would call it a win for the Rockies. Though no team would make the trade, Durazo for Walker straight up may be a decent one. Walker plays a harder defensive position and plays it better and has a ton more of experience and all those nice intangibles, but he will be 36 next season, seven years older than Durazo. He also makes $12 million more. Williams will be a placeholder for at least a year, Dellucci may get a chance to start, and Prinz is a role player. There are two problems from the Colorado point of view: 1) their outfield is now unstable with, apparently, two iffy mid-season pickups and Wilson as their starters. 2) The best player for them in the deal, Durazo, is a first baseman and they have Todd Helton already. This could all just be a step in the Rockies' off-season rebuilding process. Perhaps Durazo and Neagle will be packaged for a solid corner outfielder. At worst, this trade frees up a big chunk of change for the next three years for a franchise that is rebuilding.
Another League of Their Own
Another League of Their Own
MLB will announce today an agreement with National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), a women's professional softball league. Bud Selig apparently feels that he can channel David Stern with his own version of the WNBA. Again women will play a modified version of the men's major-league game. I may scoff but I should remember that the highly successful women's pro league of the 1940s and '50s started as a softball league and then graduated to hard ball (though the Madonna movie said otherwise).
Rey Sanchez, Jr? The Giants
Rey Sanchez, Jr?
The Giants have claimed Neifi Perez off of waivers and may be considering moving him to second base, where he has played sparingly, as a replacement for Jeff Kent.
There are only two things wrong with this strategy (besides the fact that he's only played second in 54 major-league games):
1) Perez is weak-hitting for a shortstop. He'll be a liability at second.
2) Perez will be awarded a hefty salary (some estimate around $4 M) for the bloated statistics from his Rockies days. This was the reason that the Royals wisely cut their losses by releasing him the other day. That $4 million could be used to lure a valuable player like Kent or David Bell back to San Francisco instead of being invested in a fungible commodity like Neifi Perez, especially if he ends up being a utility infielder.
Wicked Shout Out to Brickah
Wicked Shout Out to Brickah
ESPN reports that Billerica native Tom Glavine is no longer on the Red Saux Christmas list. They have dropped out of the running. His possible suitors are now only the Braves, Phillies, and Mets. Sorry Tom, no sausage at the ballpark for you next year.
No Trip to the Hampton
No Trip to the Hampton for Mets
The NY Times reports that the New York Mets could have acquired Mike Hampton, who you will recall pitched for them prior to signing with Colorado, from the Marlins in the near-three-way trade for the same money as the Braves. However, the Marlins asked for top prospect Jose Reyes in the deal. The Mets passed. Thank you.
What's Mike Stanley Up To
What's Mike Stanley Up To Anyway?
There is a report in the NY Daily News today that the Yankees are interested in having free-agent Joe Girardi serve as their backup catcher next year. Joe Torre and Don Zimmer are his main supporters remembering the job he did from 1996-99 with the club.
The rest of the organization is behind retaining last year's backup, Chris Widger. Widger performed well in a limited role in 2002 (.297 batting average and .713 OPS-.780 vs. lefthanders). He's seven years younger than Girardi. He did hit between 13 and 15 home runs between 1998 and 2000 as Montreal's starting catcher (he missed 2001 with an injury). However, it is apparent that Torre does not see him as a viable option since he was used in only 21 games last year.
Girardi at 38 is not the player he was with the Yankees. His defense is slipping as he ages, and his offense (.565 OPS-a miniscule .458 vs. lefthanders in 2002) is unacceptable.
So what should the Yankees do? First, sit Joe Torre down and demand that he start his backup catcher, whoever it may be, at least 60 times next year, not 20. They must convince him that Posada's offense is too important to allow him to catch 140 games again next year. They need Posada fresh in October, not warn out (.634 OPS in the playoffs, .692 in September). Keep his bat in the lineup as a DH if needs be but rest his body.
Second, the Yankees should remember that there are other options. They have had better options in the recent past. Bobby Estalella (28), a decent-hitting catcher, had a cup of coffee with the Yankees in 2001. The same goes for Todd Greene (31), who had 10 home runs in 112 at-bats with the Rangers in 2002. Estalella may be available now that the Rockies have acquired Charles Johnson. There also are a good handful of Todd Pratts and Eddie Taubensees, who can be acquired rather cheaply to fill the role if Torre cannot be convinced to use Widger.
As far as Girardi is concerned, bring him back by all means... as a coach. Let him take over when Torre retires but do not employ the man as a major-league catcher, unless you plan on having at least three on your roster in 2003.
Never Give Up! Never
Never Give Up! Never Surrender! , III
At the risk of beating a dead horse into the ground and mixing multiple metaphors and overusing alliteration, I am posting another AL MVP rehash. I hope that I finally do express what I am attempting to convey in the following email trail between a reader and myself. Thank you for your kind forbearance and that of Dan Ingstad, whose email he kindly allowed me to post:
To wit I sally:
All-Star Managers Not Always World
All-Star Managers Not Always World Beaters, II
ESPN reported yesterday that Dusty Baker will be the first Cubs' manager to pilot an All-Star team in over 50 years. They also list the various managerial peccadillos to the "World Series managers manage the All-Star teams" rule that have occurred over the years.
Funny, I reported on that on Sunday, and I don't have nearly the staff that they do. Try and keep up ESPN, OK?
Let's Be Frank Frank Robinson
Let's Be Frank
Frank Robinson signed on to manage the maelstrom that is the Montreal Expos for another year today. Not only that but the man who tried to resign last July 16 says that a) he may stay longer than 2003 and b) the Expos "should be serious contenders for the Eastern Division."
I would agree with him if the 'Spos had stable ownership-not to imply exactly that Bud Selig is unstable-and a stable home base, or at least one common language used in all its home bases next year. Unfortunately, I think these issues may wear on the team in 2003. Think how traveling to San Juan to play a "homestand" will affect a team possibly vying for a playoff spot. I do think that Montrel may be the class of a weak division next year, especially with the potential of the Braves retooling their starting rotation. I just wonder what the cumulative effects of playing baseball in the Expos own peculiar idiom will have on the collective psyche of the team.
However, looking at Robinson's managerial career, I don't see why a Montreal pennant in 2003 would be out of line with his past performance. In 1975 he took over an Indians club that had been improving slowly under Ken Aspromonte. They continue to improve under Robinson and in his second year were over .500 (81-78), the best record that they would have for a decade and the second best until their mid-'90s dynasty.
In 1981 he took over a Giants club that had been under .500 for the past two season and instantly made them a .500 team. In his second year, they finished 12 games over .500 and two games out of first.
In 1988, he took over a shambles of an Orioles team that had already lost its first 6 games and had been declining for five seasons. In 1989, his first full season with the O's, the team was 12 games over .500 and 2 games out of first.
In all of these cases, Robinson caused an improvement in his first year, and no matter how poor the team was, by his second year they were at least a .500 club and two out of three were in a pennant race. Considering the talent that he has in Montreal and the turnaround in his first season-the team had been floundering for 4 seasons-a similar improvement is a good possibility with the Expos.
One other thing about Robinson's managerial record should be pointed out. By his third season, none of his teams were over .500-one even fired him. He never completed his fourth season with any of the three teams that he managed. Also, each team experienced a sub-70 win season as he was leaving or the first full season after he left. And each team bounced back to .500 the next year.
It seems that Robinson's presence improves a team rapidly but that he causes a team to unravel almost as rapidly though that team will quickly show that they were capable of winning just as quickly once he as gone. Final verdict: Expo pennant? Possible. Robinson staying well past 2003? Highly doubtful.
Once There Was A Man
Once There Was A Man Named Jesse
Jesse Orosco has signed a one-year deal to pitch with San Diego next year. The left-hander is coming off a season with a 3.00 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 27 innings and 56 appearances. Those numbers are correct. His innings totals are low because he only faces about 2 hitters per appearance.
Oh, one other thing about Jesse Orosco is that he turns 46 next April. Here is the list of lefties with over 100 appearances sfter the yearin which they turned 40:
Name G W L JIM KAAT 319 33 31 JESSE OROSCO 231 5 6 WARREN SPAHN 177 61 66 STEVE CARLTON 170 36 76 TOMMY JOHN 169 44 57 RICK HONEYCUTT 167 12 3 TONY FOSSAS 120 3 9 WOODIE FRYMAN 101 14 10
Not much to say. Just that this is an eclectic mix and that Orosco is pretty high up on the list. And that the starters are Hall-of-Fame caliber or close to it, but the relievers are the ones who remain effective.
By the way, here is a quick list of men who played into their 46th year:
Perez-stroika: Royals Cut Neifi-rious Shortstop
Perez-stroika: Royals Cut Neifi-rious Shortstop
The Royals have released Neifi Perez and handed the starting shortstop job to rookie Angel Berroa. The buzz is that Perez' defense was on the decline since he won a Gold Glove in Coors in 2000, but I don't buy that.
Perez' 20 errors this season (only 19 at short and 1 at second base) are cited, but Perez had 18 the year that he won the Gold Glove. His fielding percentage (if that mattered) is just six one-thousandths below his Gold Glove year's figure. His Zone Rating (The percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive "zone," as measured by STATS, Inc.) and Range Factor ((PO + A) * 9 divided by innings) have dropped since leaving Colorado, but it appears that instead of a dropoff, he has just established new performance levels after playing in a rather unusual stadium. Perez had similar fielding numbers his entire career in Colorado, and his numbers have been consistently lower in KC. I find it hard to believe that he just forgot how to play short when he arrived at the Royals' doorstep, especially given that his Rockie successor (Juan Uribe) has almost identical fielding numbers to his with Colorado. I know he aged three and one-half years since he was traded last year-he confessed that he was actually two years older than his playing age in spring training this year-but I would doubt that a fielder under 30 would have such a dramatic change. I also see no reason why it would happen when he left one team for another.
I believe that shortstops may have better numbers at Coors though I am not sure why. Perhaps, it's because of the number of flyballs that end up being home runs that there are more chances throughout the game and where would those chances most likely go? To short. Perhaps, it's because pitchers throw less junk at Coors and try to keep the ball down. Therefore, there are more ground balls to short on good pitches and more home runs on the mistake pitches. Perhaps, it's because his shoes are too tight.
Whatever the reason, I think Perez benefited by it to the tune of a Gold Glove. The Royals traded a useful player in Jermaine Dye to get Perez because they thought they were getting a slick-fielding shortstop with decent pop and the ability to score runs. What they got was a player who played a decent shortstop and hit four home runs, slugged around .300, had an OPS in the .560s, and scored only 83 runs in over 800 plate appearances.
Should the Royals have seen this coming? Well, he never had overwhelming numbers at Coors, just respectable ones. He has never been able to take a walk. He was hitting .298 when they acquired him but had only a .326 on-base percentage (16 walks in 403 plate appearances with Colorado in 2001). Also, Perez benefited greatly from Coors vast outfield, which should have been apparent from his high triple and double totals in Colorado. His average and power numbers dropped off greatly on the road throughout his Colorado years. His league-adjusted OPS was consistently under that of an average player.
OK, maybe they even realized that his offensive numbers would fall off, though perhaps not as much as they have. But did the Royals have any reason to suspect that his defensive numbers were bloated by playing on the Rockies? Well, his predecessor Walt Weiss had aberrantly high fielding numbers at Coors as did his predecessor, Vinny Castilla, who was switched to third because of his range. Should they have known? Coors' affect on fielding stats is not widely discussed, but couldn't they have checked it out before acquiring Perez?
So now the job is being handed to a 24-year rookie. That's got to be an improvement, right? Berroa batted .212 with a .355 slugging percentage at Triple-A Omaha with only 15 walks plus 84 K's in 293 at-bats. I hope his fielding is as good as the numbers from his 20-game tryout in 2002 indicate, because he is going to make Rey Ordonez look like Alex Rodriguez at the plate. At least he's cheaper than Perez.
"I Object! You Should Smell
"I Object! You Should Smell Him When He's Sober"
In a shocking turn of events, the defense attorney for the accused David Wells attacker claims that Wells was ''stinking drunk'' when he instigated a fight even though he admits that his client approached the pitcher. He continued that Wells bore the brunt of the clash since he "was so drunk that he was unable to carry out his code of physical violence."
The always-circumspect lefty was unavailable for comment.
Reeling in a Marlin? II
Reeling in a Marlin? II
The dual Mike Hampton trade was okayed by the commissioner's office today and now the money situation is alot clearer.
In trade one between the Rockies and the Marlins, the Marlins received $6.5 million dollars. The Marlins owed Johnson and Wilson $54 million over the next three years (is that possible?). Darensbourg was owed $1.1 M in 2003 and a $200 K buyout of a $1.4 M option in 2004. So the Marlins $61.9 M in the black.
In trade 2, the Marlins agreed to pay $30 M of Hampton's contract. So they still finished about $31.9 M in the black, though they need to replace their starting catcher (26-year-old Ramon Castro may inherit the job). Pierre ostensibly replaces Wilson in center.
For teh Rockies:
The Rockies will pay Hampton's $21 million signing bonus and a $6 million buyout of his 2009 option, which was declined just before the trade.
That's $49 M that Colorado will pay to rid themselves of Hampton. Add in the $55.4 that they took on in salary from the Marlins and subtract the $78.5 that the Marlins and Braves have committed to paying Hampton, and you get $25.9 M in the hole for the Rockies. That's not bad considering how much they had left on Hampton's contract.
The Rockies will install Wilson in CF to replace Pierre and Johnson behind the plate (displacing two former Phils, Gary Bennet and Bobby Estellela). I guess it really doesn't matter who replaces Hampton. he couldn't be much worse.
The Braves will get to back-load Hampton's contract as Murray Chass reported earlier:
From Florida to Atlanta: $9 million in 2003, $10 million in 2004 and $11 million in 2005. The Braves will be responsible for $2 million of Hampton's contract in 2003, $2 million in '04 and $1.5 million in '05...Atlanta is on the hook for only $5.5 million of Hampton's contract over the next three years, then picks up the remainder of what he is owed: $13.5 million in 2006, $14.5 in '07 and $15 million in '08.
That frees them up to pursue Tom Glavine.
Bernie Loves Godzilla The latest
Bernie Loves Godzilla
The latest development in the coutship of Godzooky's father, i.e., Hideki Matsui is a glowing endorsement from Bernie Williams. He says that he could envision sharing the lush green in front of the Monuments with Matsui next year. Williams' approbation came as "Godzilla" was batting .143 (4-for-28) on the tour. He finished at .161 (5-for-31) with no home runs, one extra base hit (a double), two runs batted in (both in game 2), one run, and a stolen base. Also, Matsui played right and center field but not left.
The other free-agent Japanese player, third baseman Norihiro Nakamura, was a bit uneven. He had two home runs and six RBI but batted only .172 (5-for-29 and 0-for-13 in the last three games) with three runs, one double, 2 grounded-into-a-doubleplay, a sac fly, two errors in the field, and no endorsement from Bernie Williams.
Perhaps with the sudden dearth of hard-hitting major-league first basemen, someone should consider going after A-Cab, Alex Cabrera, who was the only non-Japanese player on Japan's roster. The former Diamondback batted .357 (10-for-28) with 2 home runs, one double, four runs, five runs batted in, one hit-by-a-pitch, and one doubeplay that he grounded into (though he was 0-for-8 in the last two games).
27-year-old shortstop Kazuo "Little" Matsui batted .423 (11-for-26) with 4 runs, 7 runs batted in, 2 home runs (in game 6), two doubles (in game 3), two stolen bases, a sac flay and one error. When does he become a free agent?
Discovering Japan For those interested,
For those interested, the US has edged Japan in the all-important All-Star Series 2002. The Americans have not lost in this series since 1990, the only Japanese series victory:
Year Won Lost Tied MVP 1986 6 1 0 Tony Pena 1988 3 2 2 Barry Larkin 1990 3 4 1 Ken Griffey Jr. 1992 6 1 1 Mark Grace 1996 4 2 2 Steve Finley 1998 6 2 0 Sammy Sosa 2000 5 2 1 Barry Bonds 2002 4 3 0 Torii Hunter Tot 37 17 7
The American hitters looked pretty impressive batting .307 as a team with an .853 OPS. Ten of the 16 MLB position players batted over .300. However, the pitchers only managed a 4.69 ERA, allowed 82 hits in 71 innings, and gave up 31 walks to go with their 46 strikeouts. All in all, they scored nearly 11 runs a game (the average score was 6-5 MLB).
For a nice overview of the history of Japanese baseball (including Ty Cobb in a Tokyo Giants uniform), go here.
Japan to Swallow Big Mac?
Japan to Swallow Big Mac?
Kansas City Royal Mac Suzuki may get selected by the Yakult Swallows in Japan's baseball draft Wednesday. Though Suzuki is a Japanese national, he has never played professional baseball in Japan.
Reeling in a Marlin? The
Reeling in a Marlin?
The Mike Hampton deal gets curiouser and curiouser. Murray Chass today reports that instead of forcing the Braves to pay for his services, since they will be benefiting from them, the next three years, the deal may have the Braves paying only the last three years of his 6-year contract.
What's the difference you ask? The difference is that they can increase their deal to Tom Glavine to be competitive with the Mets and Phils. If they can re-sign Glavine, believed a remote possibility right after the deal was announced, then they can continue their dominance of the NL East. This would seem to be at cross-purposes with the Marlins' desire to attain the same crown, and yet the Marlins made the deal.
Chass also notes that the monetary machinations will need to be disentangled prior to gaining approval from the commissioner, something that Chass implies may be difficult.
"Everyone has a different view on the deal," one official said. "I don't know who's paying what. That's something that's going to have to be looked at closely. It all seems to be a muddle."
There's one last note that I found of interest. As the deal evolved from a two-team to a three-team transaction, the impression was that the Marlins were interested in acquiring Hampton to trade him. Chass implies that that was not the Marlins' intentions at all:
"Hampton was eager to leave the Rockies, but he was not prepared to waive his no-trade clause and accept a trade to the Marlins. His agent, Mark Rodgers, informed the Marlins of that stance, but he also told them Hampton would accept a trade to one of several other teams. That's what led to the trade with the Braves."
It appears that the deal was brokered to help both clubs dump salary. That would be fine if the Marlins had not turned around and traded Hampton while agreeing to pay a large portion of his salary.
I am left trying to explain to myself why the Marlins did make the deal. Could Charles Johnson's presence be that virulent? They trade Johnson, Wilson, and Darensbourg, thereby dumping $15 M in salary in 2003. OK, that makes sense. They get Juan Pierre-well that's a typical acquisition for a bad team. But the also pick up Hampton, who they know will not allow the trade to occur unless he gets traded to a team he will agree to. OK, so they trade him to division-rival Atlanta. That's suspicious enough, but then they agree to pay perhaps more than Atlanta will over the next 6 years for his services. They also get the bullpen equivalent of Pierre in the person of Tim Spooneybarger, a reliever who was often bailed out by the Braves' excellent bullpen last year and is expendable to the Braves, and a player to be named. Apparently, the Marlins will be paying more money to Hampton's non-services than they would for the three players they traded, and all they have to show for it are two marginal players.
Jeff Kent-Walt Weiss Memorial Baseball
Jeff Kent-Walt Weiss Memorial Baseball Darwin Awards
My friend Mike has suggested keeping a running tally of ridiculous off-season injuries. He also supplied me with the first entry below. I have dubbed it the Jeff Kent-Walt Weiss Memorial Baseball Darwin Awards and will be updating it from time to time:
Beane said right-handed pitcher Jim Mecir will miss the first two months of the season after having surgery on his left knee to repair a torn patellar tendon. Mecir was injured while playing with his children on a hill, Beane said.
Braves Earn Nickname Acquiring Hampton
Braves Earn Nickname Acquiring Hampton
Mike Hampton was just traded for the second time in 24 hours, this time to the Braves. The Braves are paying only $35.5 M of the $84.5 M remaining (plus $19 M deferred signing bonus) in his contract. The Rockies have picked up $11 M (plus the bonus) and the Marlins will apparently pay $38 M for the honor of having Hampton on their roster for less than a day.
The Marlins dumped some big salaries (Wilson $6.5 M, Johnson $7 M, and Darensbourg $1.1M in 2003) but took on part of Hampton's and only have Tim Spooneybarger and Juan Pierre, two guys who will no longer even be in the majors by the time Hampton's contract ends, to show for it. I love that Loria magic.
All-Star Managers Not Always World
All-Star Managers Not Always World Beaters
Next season, Dusty Baker will become the first Cubs manager to pilot an All-Star team since Charlie Grimm did it back in 1946. You see, the All-Star manager is traditionally the manger of the league's World Series representative the previous year. The Cubs have not been to the World Series since 1945-you do the math. The only way they do get represented next year is by hiring Baker away from the Giants.
Mike Scioscia, representing the first World Championship or even World Series appearance by the Angels this year, will manage the AL squad next year. However, he will not be the first Angel to manage in an All-Star game. That honor goes to Dick Williams.
So, how many times has the tradition been broken anyway? Let's ask Mr. Owl:
In 1933, the year of the first All-Star game, Connie Mack (A's) and John McGraw (Giants-retired mid-1932) were appointed by Commissioner Landis to manage the game. The 1932 World Series managers were Joe McCarthy (Yankees) and Charlie Grimm (Cubs)
In 1934, the tradition was established with the 1933 World Series managers, Joe Cronin (Senators) and Bill Terry (Giants), being appoint to lead their respective leagues at the All-Star game.
1936: Joe McCarthy (Yankees) replaced Mickey Cochrane (Tigers), who is close to a "nervous breakdown" and only manages 120 games that year.
1940: Joe Cronin (Red Sox) replaced McCarthy (Yankees), who steps aside explaining he had "had the honor often enough."
1945: There is no game.
1948: Leo Durocher (Dodgers) managed even though Clyde Sukeforth and Burt Shotton had managed the Dodgers in 1947 while Durocher was serving a one-year suspension. Durocher left two games after the All-Star game with the Dodgers in seventh place. He is replaced by Ray Blades and then Burt Shotton.
1954: Walter Alston (Dodgers) replaced Chuck Dressen, who had been the Dodgers' manager in 1953 but is not managing in the majors in '54 (but does manage Detroit in '63).
1961: Paul Richards (Orioles) replaced Casey Stengel (Yankees in 1960), who did not manage that year (but does manage the Mets in 1962)
1964: Al Lopez (White Sox) replaces Ralph Houk (Yankees in 1963), who did not manage that year (but does return to the Yankees in '66).
1965: Gene Mauch (Phillies) replaced Johnny Keane (Cardinals manager in '64), who is now managing the Yankees. Also, Al Lopez (White Sox) replaced Yogi Berra (Yankees in '64), who did not manage that year (but does manage the Mets in '72). So, Keane is the only man to manage one team to a World Series one year, manage another team who appeared in that same World Series the next year, but not represent either at the All-Star game.
1972: Danny Murtaugh (Pirates) managed the All-Star game even though he had retired after the '71 season. He would return to managing the Pirates in 1973 and remained there until he died after the 1976 season at the age of 61, two months after his second retirement started (maybe he should have stayed retired the first time?).
1974: Dick Williams (California manager) piloted the AL All-Stars even though he no longer manages the league-champion A's.
1979: Bob Lemon (Yankees) only lasted 65 games before being replaced by Bill Martin but still served as AL manager.
1982: Billy Martin (A's, '81 ALCS losers) replaced Bob Lemon (Yankees in '81) who had been fired by New York after only 14 games that year.
1995: Felipe Alou (Expos) and Buck Showalter (Yankees) managed the All-Star game. Even though there was no World Series in 1994, their two teams had the best record.
Back in the Joe Morgan
Back in the Joe Morgan Chat Day
Here's a Joe Morgan chat send-up from May 31 that I serendipitously found in an old email to my friend Mike. It's like running across a fine bottle of wine and then guzzling it down before the just-removed cork is dry. Or better yet, it's like finding an unopened package of baseball cards-and it had better be a Topps package-with the brittle stick of gum still enclosed and then crunching down on the splintery shards. God, I remember cramming 10 or 12 sticks of that gunk in my mouth when I was a kid. Joe's words are as multicfacted as those broken gum fragments I masticated in my youth. Manna from the gods.
That is why I have chosen to compare Joe today to the stuff of legend, to Arthur, king of the Britons. Like Arthur, Joe is on a valiant quest. His Holy Grail is truth, truth in baseball analysis. He has a legion of men to go into battle with him. His knights of the round table are the analysts who we love most. His Camelot, the cathedral ballparks from whence he dispenses his wisdom. Like Arthur, his quest is arduous. Like Arthur he had a sprightly wizard befriending him: Merlin for Arthur, Jon Miller for Morgan.
Like Arthur, his appointment is suspect: Arthur removes the sword from the stone or water or a pawnshop, thereby signifying that he is the one true king. Or as Arthur himself puts it, as told to Monty Python, "The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king!" Of course, one may respond, "Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!" Joe Morgan was a great ballplayer, but his odometer is stuck on 1975 (yeah, so, I like mixed metaphors). However, the watery tart has chosen to bestow the keys to the Hall of Fame upon him as well. With this power he shall in turn enshrine forever the fine knights that served with him battle yea so many years ago when a game of base be of far superior quality to yon contests of today.
Arthur eventually had his sword caste unto the waters from whence it came by Sir Bedivere -he was too damn lazy to do it himself-, "take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go with it to yonder water side, and when thou comest there I charge thee throw my sword in that water, and come again and tell me what thou there seest.." Sir Bedivere saw a barge of luscious ladies awaiting Arthur's transition to a Coor's Lite commercial dimension. Now, Joe is, as far as I know, a happily married man, but as the season ended it seemed that the golf course beckoned and we have yet to see his like hence. Like Sir Bedivere we await the mythical return of our Arthur, Joe Morgan, and the halcyon days of ballgames of yore.
Jesse, NH: Is there a reason you're always so bitter towards the Red Sox? Any time I've heard you refer to them its been critical. What gives- you guys won the World Series, so why so bitter?
Joe Morgan: Have them win something and I'll congratulate them.
File these under "Things were better when I played because I say so"
George(New York): Hey Joe. I was watching the 1975 Series on ESPN Classic and the players looked leaner, faster, and more graceful. Routine plays really looked routine and the players overall looked more athletic. Do you agree?
Joe Morgan: I agree the players were more fundamentally sound. The players now are bigger and stronger, but baseball is a game of skill and not necessarily one of strength. Strength allows you to hit more homers, but it doesn't allow you to play the game more gracefully or better. [But don't players who hit more HRs help their teams win and, therefore, play "better"? "Grace," on the other hand, is a matter of preference. How graceful were Greg Luzinski and Poog Powell?]
Clint (Danbury, CT): You were one of baseballs best alltime hitters. What young pitcher today do you think that you would have the most problems hitting against?
Joe Morgan: Probably, being left-handed, Randy Johnson. Other than him I can't think of anyone who could be that difficult...
File under "Damn Lies and Statistics!"
Denis (Dover, NH): How valuable is a great base stealer to a ballclub? Statistically, a player needs to be around 70% successful not to hurt his club, but what about the effects on the opposing pitcher? ...
Joe Morgan: ... Stats can't be used to measure the effect of a base stealer because he changes the defense and the pitching patterns. [Can't you measure the effect of that?] A great base stealer should steal 80 percent or more, I think. Seventy percent is a good number, but that's not how you measure his effect. You measure the intangibles of what he brings to an offense. [Now, how do you measure intangibles again?]
John (Atlanta): Joe, Why does the stolen base seem like a lost art. You just don't see the prototype base stealers that used to be able to a dramatically effect the outcome of a game. Where have all the Ricky Hendersons, Willie Wilsons & Vince Coleman's gone, Joe???
Joe Morgan: I don't think people have been teaching people to steal bases. Very few can teach it. Secondly, players have bulked up and been swinging for the home run. Others think the stolen base hurts them. But the teams that have won championships have stolen bases, not in a big way, but in a way to manufacture runs... [People won World Series with small ball, including stolen bases, back when it took 35 HRs to lead the league. Now those outs are just to valuable to give up. By the Rickey Henderson hasn't gone: he's in Boston]
Robb (Tacoma, WA): Mr. Morgan, What do you think statistics can tell us about a ballplayer, and what do you think their limitations are? What about some of the more complex measures like Bill James's "Win Shares", as opposed to traditional stats like RBI?
Joe Morgan: If you understand stats, then they can tell a lot. Not all are meaningful, though. You have to understand them. When I look at stats of a team, there are a lot I can see in the stats that are meaningful. By the same token, a lot of stuff is rhetoric. They have different things, like quality starts. I don't agree with it. I think a quality start is when you keep your team in the game, at any score. As long as you are in the game and give your team a chance to win, that's a quality start. I don't know who made up a quality start. The stats that are meaningful to me for pitchers are wins and losses. For a hitter, it's run production -- runs and RBIs. With anything else, the stats can be distorted. You can make a .300 hitter look like a good player, even though he doesn't score runs or drive in any runs. What does a player do to help win the game? That's more important to me. Batting averages and ERAs are overrated. They don't win a game for you.
[Kind of like telling your grandfather about gas prices being lower in 2002 dollars than in 1950 dollars. All he can talk about is how gas was a quarter and who came up with quality starts anyway. That's the one stat that he points to, one that has been so universally disdained that it disappeared from sight years ago (along with the equally ill-conceived GWRBI). Yeah, some stats are not what they appear and what a player does to help win IS the most important thing. But that can be, to a certain degree, measured; if not, then we have to rely on anecdotal evidence from the Lil Joes to tell us who's a good ballplayer. Heaven forefend.)
"Into Every Brain That Looks
"Into Every Brain That Looks So Many Fathoms To The Sea"
Horatio: What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Two individuals, John Fish and Eloise Newell, are heading a project to float Babe Ruth's capsized piano. Legend holds that Ruth tossed and/or deposited the piano into a pond after the Red Sox won their last World Series in 1918, engendering the "The Curse of the Bambino" (The details, however, are sketchy, and theories as to the plot behind the paino's drowning abound.)
Newell replied, "Absolutely," when asked if the piano's retrieval would end the curse. Newell further added that she hoped to use the piano's discovery "to draw attention to mental illness." Uh-huh. Fish was involved in "the search at Ground Zero for the black boxes of American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175."
Is Bill James really affiliated with this franchise?
Selig Bribes Judge And Other
Selig Bribes Judge And Other Tales of Yellow Journalism
An obviously bribed federal judge [and for all of those legal-minded fellows out there, I am of course joking] put the former Expo minority owner's racketeering lawsuit against Major League Baseball on hold today. Instead he will pass the case against former owner Jeffrey Loria on to three different arbitrators and table the Selig charges.
If you don't read the entire ESPN article, you'll miss this tidbit at the end:
Still pending are motions by baseball's lawyers to dismiss the case for lack of merit, to allow Selig to decide the case as the arbitrator under baseball's rules and to disqualify the plaintiffs' lawyers, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.
Sure, let's allow Bud to adjudicate. Maybe he will find himself and his partners guilty? "How 'bout Bud here tries the case and, oh, we disqualifed your lawyers. You guys are on your own." That sounds fair. Daniel Webster had a better shot.
Fresh Baked Cubbies The Chicago
Fresh Baked Cubbies
The Chicago Cubs hired Dusty Baker (finally) today. Theirs has been a courtship that took longer to consumate than Lara and Dr. Zhivago's (or Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's for the Victorian crowd). Earlier today, Baker was still haggling over the wet bar accoutrements in his office. He signed a four-year contract for an estimated $14 to $16 M, plus an unlimited supply of toothpicks.
No word yet on the negotiations between son Darren and the Cubs. Scott Boras is handling Darren's affairs now, and among his projects is a re-make of the Gary Coleman vehicle, Out of Leftfield. The storyline and title have been changed to reflect Darren's incident in the World Series. The working title is Out at Home. Darren has also been lighting up the dinner-theater circuit.
Bonds Defeats Godzilla, Media Unimpressed
Bonds Defeats Godzilla, Media Unimpressed
In a battle of two hard-hitting left-handers, both of whom have been at one time rumored to be on his way to the Bronx, Barry "Mothra" Bonds defeated Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui 8-5 in a home run derby in Japan earlier today (I think it was today, I get confused crossing over the dateline).
In further Godzilla news:
Matsui said the fact that he has played right field the last two games has nothing to do with him showcasing his talent for the Yankees. Matsui, a natural center fielder, would be moved to right if he signed with the Yankees because Bernie Williams is New York's center fielder. Matsui played center during the first games of the tour. "I was asked by my manager, Mr. Tatsunori Hara, to play right field,'' Matsui said. "I'm just doing what the manager tells me to do.'' Matsui was a center fielder during the regular season.
The way that Williams threw this year might indicate a move to left is in order. Perhaps the Yankees are expecting the winter rest to heal his wings. Or perhaps, and it's a long shot, they have decided to move Soriano to center for 2003. Maybe the Yankees can field a lineup entirely made up of outfielders next year--talk about an invite pitch.
One last Japan note:
Reliever Mike Fetters will be looking for a job when he returns to the U.S. He learned earlier in the week that the Arizona Diamondbacks had declined to exercise the $2.75 million option on his contract for next season. Fetters said he hoped the Diamondbacks would re-sign him for less money. "That would be the top option for me, but I'll play for anyone with a chance to win. Heck, I might even pitch over here,'' he said. Fetters continues to wear the Diamondbacks' colors on the tour. "It's the only uniform I brought with me,'' he said.
Or maybe he can go on the field naked like Morganna. It's got to be more flattering than those D-Backs unis.
D.C. United? There's a new
There's a new study that's been released by one of the three Washington groups trying to bring baseball to the capitol. The study identifies five possible locations for the team's new stadium, which would take 2-3 years to build and a profitibility analysis. The group sent the study on to Bud Selig, who will stare at it like a monkey goggling at a Picasso. Then he'll turn to Peter Angelos, who'll shake his head, "No".
M's to Get a Melvin
M's to Get a Melvin
Bob Melvin was named the successor to Lou Piniella in Seattle today. The former D-Backs bench coach started shouting and gesticulating wildly to prove that he can fill Piniella's rather oversized shoes.
Though Melvin has never managed other than one season (if you can call it that) in the Arizona Fall League, he was a backup catcher for 10 years, which makes him one of the more qualified managerial candidates this off-season. He also learned at the foot-it's as good as any other part-of Bob Brenly, one of the progenitors of the backup-catcher-cum-manager revolution. Also, current Mariner and ex-Brewer-even though the Mariners would prefer it the other way around-Jeff Cirillo kind of remembers him from his Milwaukee days (didn't he sit behind me in bio in 9th grade?): "I can't speak for the other candidates, although I remember Bob Melvin doing a good job as bench coach in 1999 in Milwaukee."
Melvin defended his lack of managerial experience when he interviewed for the Milwaukee managerial opening, "Nowadays you're seeing more managers who haven't managed. I've managed in the Fall League. That's where Davey Lopes managed. That's where Dusty Baker managed and so forth." Of course, it is never good etiquette or a good sell to compare yourself to a manager who was fired in the past season by the team with whom you are interviewing. Besides, we not only see "managers who haven't managed" before in the big leagues, we see managers who aren't even currently managing as well. However, the way that he worded that statement so awkwardly makes one wonder if he can deal with the rigors of dealing with, say, the New York press. But I think he lost the Milwaukee job because Brewers general manager Doug Melvin didn't want the office staff to get confused.
Meanwhile, Davey Johnson sits at home laughing his bee-hind off.
Jealousy, Thy Name Is Omar
Jealousy, Thy Name Is Omar
Omar Vizquel is now grousing that he, and not Alex Rodriguez, should have won the AL shortstop Gold Glove. Geez, can't A-Rod get his hands on any award?
He protests too much, methinks. Youthinks, too? Rodriguez had the best zone rating in the league while Vizquel was seventh. His range factor was only fourth in the league but he was still ahead of Vizquel. Historically, Vizquel may be better (James rates him a B- and A-Rod a C+), but he has never lived up to his press and he is now 35, eight years older than A-Rod.
Personally I could see Mike Bordick complaining (#1 by a large margin in RF and #2 in ZR), but Vizquel should start worrying about the makeup of the Indians in 2003 rather than campaigning for awards that he has no business winning. Or maybe he should just save the grousing for the sequel to his autobiography.
Gentleman Jim in the Bosox
Gentleman Jim in the Bosox Hall
Ex-Phil Gentleman Jim Lonborg was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame today (and no, that's not an oxymoron). Lonborg had a tremendous season in 1967 for them, winning the Cy Young, clinching the pennant on the last day of the season, and winning two games in the Series (one a no-hitter for 7-2/3). I remember Lonborg as the number two starter behind Steve Carlton on the Phillies' playoff teams of the mid-'70s. He had a great delivery. It always looked like he just picked up his lead foot and then put it down. He was also very softspoken and articulate.
Congrats! It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Mon Dieux! Les Expos in
Mon Dieux! Les Expos in San Juan
That reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, in which Bugs in a dress-he was in a dress more than Milton Berle and J. Edgar Hoover combined-tells the southern character, "The Yankees are in Chattanooga!" Then the next scene shows the southerner pointing a gun at a dugout and yelling, "Come out of there you Yankees." You see they were playing the Chattanooga team. Ah, those were simpler times.
Anyway, the Expos are extremely close to playing two 10-game homestands in Puerto Rico next year. I hate to toot my own horn-in the sense that I love to-but I was the first to mention San Juan as a possible destination for the 'Spos in my five-part study entitled Les Exits. I don't know if it'll work out but they have the peeps or rather la gente.
Scoop from the Cub Reporter
Scoop from the Cub Reporter
The Cub Reporter informs me that Johnson never actually had a sit down with the Giants brass. So the picture I have in my mind, something akin to Ben Affleck's interview in Good Will Hunting, with Johnson stretching out his legs, putting them up on Brian Sabean's desk, and lighting a big cigar like he owned the joint was just an aberration from my twisted psyche. But it did make a better story.
Anyway, he has some additional info on the dealio:
I wrote to an acquaintance who is a sports reporter for a daily newspaper, and even he couldn't tell me why Johnson wasn't in the mix. Granted, his
As I wrote to him, I remember Johnson as a reclusive, introspective type as a player (everyone played for the Phils when they got past their prime). Maybe he's done with the whole business. Maybe his sick of having to interview with the Randy Smiths of the world and still not getting the job.
The Cub Reporter has additional information on Johnson on his site, which I have added to my links to the left.
Why Did the Giants Leave
Why Did the Giants Leave Johnson Out?
First let me apologize for the above headline. I have no facility for self-censor.
One thing that occurred to me after the Felipe Alou signing by the Giants was since they were looking for a veteran manager to run a playoff-caliber team, why didn't they consider the best currently unemployed manager that there is, Davey Johnson? According to Jayson Stark they did and found him lacking, turning to the ex-Expo manager.
I thought it would be fun to compare the two, so let's go. First, Alou will turn 68 on May 12; Johnson will turn 60 on January 30. Those eight years could be a big difference in the energy level of the two men. I have written that there is not a great case to be made for hiring a manager approaching 70. But let's leave aside their ages for now. Rather, let's evaluate the past performance.
Johnson has managed for parts of 14 season and has a 1148-888 record (a .564 winning percent). Alou has managed for parts of 10 seasons and owns a 691-717 (a .491 winning percentage). Johnson has won about 450 games more and lost only 171 more. His winning percentage is about 70 points higher and is over .500 while Alou's is not.
Johnson also won with four different organizations. He's won 100 games twice, 90 games six times, and has been over .500 in all but one full season (he had two partial seasons under .500 as well). His teams have finished lower than second only once in all of his full seasons (the Dodgers finished third in his first year there in 1999. He has managed at least two full seasons for four different clubs and has a winning record with each of those clubs. He has managed in both the National and the American Leagues. He won the 1997 AL Manager of the Year award.
Alou only managed Montreal. He won 90 games once and was over .500 in three of his eight full seasons (plus one partial out of two over .500). His team finished first for the only time in the strike-shortened season of 1994. In his eight full seasons, the Expos finished lower than second 5 times. He won the 1994 NL Manager of the Year award.
Johnson has won a World Series. He has a 23-23 playoff record. He has taken three different teams (1 AL and 2 NL). Alou's teams have never been to the postseason.
"But Alou managed Montreal and they stripped his team out from under him. You can't hold their failings against him," you say. Well, The Expos were under .500 when he took over in 1992 and they had just had a 71-90 record the year before, but the had been at or above .500 the four years before.
"Well, the decimation happened on his watch. That's why his record suffered." There is some validity there, but the team improved about 40 percentage points after Jeff Torborg, no Weaver he, took over in 2001. They were vastly improved this year under Frank Robinson.
Johnson took over a Mets team in 1984 that finished 68-94 the previous year and hadn't been over .500 in eight seasons. The were under .500 when he was replaced by Bud Harrelson in 1990, but quickly returned to the level they had been at before Johnson left in 1991. The Mets were laughingstocks and the punchline to many a David Letterman monologue within another year.
Johnson took over a Cincinnati club that was under .500 with Tony Perez in 1993, and they performed at the same level for Johnson for the rest of the year. They had won 90 games in 1992 in Lou Piniealla's last year. Johnson then won two titles in his two full years with the Reds. The Reds fell to .500 after Johnson left and then were under .500 for the next two seasons.
Johnson took over a Baltimore club that was two games under .500 in 1995. They had been over .500 the previous seasons however, but had not been to the playoffs since 1983. The Orioles reached the playoffs in each of Johnson's two seasons there. After Johnson acrimonious departure the Orioles have not been over .500 for an entire season.
Clearly, Johnson has a record of improving three of the four clubs he has managed and when he has left those clubs have declined (except the Dodgers). Alou initially improved the Expos but does bear some blame for their fallow years since his departure has apparently allowed the club to improve. I know it's all not that simple, but it's not really anything in his favor.
So who is the better candidate? I am not familiar with the situation. Maybe Davey Johnson came in and gave the impression of someone who cannot work within the Giants organization and Alou seemed much more in tune with their system. Maybe the Giants will have a great run with Alou. I just have to say that looking at their past performance indicates that Johnson would be a better gamble.
Greer Outlook Not Rosy Rusty
Greer Outlook Not Rosy
Rusty Greer will undergo four separate surgeries this off-season, including "Tommy John" surgery. He will definitely miss 2003 and may never be able to recuperate to the level where he can play major-league baseball again.
He played only 51 games in 2002 and only once since June 3. One June 3, he was only available for pinch-hitting duties since he had made two fully-extended diving catches in left field the previous game against Kansas City and his back was sore. He quickly went on the DL with a bone bruise and hyperextended back. Greer was activated on July 11 (and was replaced on the DL by John Rocker of all people), played one game relieving Kevin Mench in left, quickly complained of a sore back, and returned to the DL for the remainder of the season.
Greer made $6.8 M this season and has two years remaining on his contract ($7 M in 2003 and $7.4 in 2004) plus an option with a yet to be determined buyout for 2005. Expect the Rangers to make him an offer he can't refuse to buy him out and to provide him with a long-term coaching, scouting, and/or advisorial position in the near future.
Oopsy In my Henson tirade
In my Henson tirade I stated that Japanese free agent Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui is a thirdbaseman, and therefore a potential threat to Henson. My mistake: he is actually a left fielder. I confused him with the other Japanese free agent Norihiro Nakamura. It shouldn't change the points regarding Henson other than his having to compete potentially with a free agent like ex-/current Yankee Robin Ventura instead. Thanks to Travis Nelson for kindly pointing that out.
Repre-Henson-ible? Yankee prospect Drew Henson
Yankee prospect Drew Henson is struggling through the Arizona Fall League. He has the lowest average in the league at .186, has 31 strikeouts in 118 at-bats, and has committed 11 errors at third.
Many are reading great volumes of information from this, and into the Yankees' brass traveling to Japan to scout Japanese free agent third baseman Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui. But the truth is that Henson is only 22 years old, split time between baseball and football while at Michigan, and has plenty of time (or at least should be given time) to develop even though he has had 5 minor-league season (4 with the Yankees). The Yankees saw enough in his abilities to draft him in 1998 and then to re-acquire his rights and sign him to a six-year, $17 million contract two years ago. Besides, it is not unheard of for a player to be switched to a new position even at the major-league level if New York signs Matsui.
While it's true that the Yankees have made their fair share of mistakes evaluating talent (read Hideki Irabu and Brien Taylor), they have developed a great deal of major-league talent. The Yankees have also shown no reluctance in separating the chaff (e.g., Hensley Meulens, Ruben Rivera, Ricky Ledee) from the wheat (Williams, Soriano, etc.) when the players approach the major-league level, often times fobbing off the lesser talents to player-hungry organizations. Given the money involved, one might think that the Henson situation gives the Yankees a little less latitude in this area. Keep in mind that the Yankees traded Irabu and his contract for a decent major-league starter in Ted Lilly and two still developing pitchers Jake Westbrook and Christian Parker (at least they are on major-league rosters unlike Irabu, who was released the other day by Texas).
Some say that either the Yankees are fooling themselves or are trying to fool the rest of baseball by saying that they still expect Henson to be their regular third baseman in the near future. However, remaining optimistic is the best way to pass of high-priced inferior talent to another organization if the Yankees truly have given up on Henson. It is also the best way to stand behind a player if they do still believe in him. The bottom line is that trying to read the Yankees' public face on the issue may prove fruitless.
They had expected him to be ready to take over at third base in the Yankees lineup by this year or at least next, but maybe their expectations were unrealistic. Perhaps the two months that he missed last year when he broke his wrist were not taken into account. He did have a great first half in Triple-A this year hitting for power and average, but the second half saw both numbers fall (.240, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 151 strikeouts in 471 at-bats). The pitchers may have adjusted to him. He now has to adjust, which is not the easiest thing when you are the best known minor-leaguer since Michael Jordan.
That said, this year will be critical for Henson. Can he adjust in his second year at Triple-A and show that he can perform at one step below the majors? Or will become a recidivistic minor-leaguer? If the Yankees sign Matsui, can he adjust to life in the American major leagues? If everything goes in the Yankees' favor and the happy problem of having both Matsui and Henson at third occurs, can they shift one to a new position or trade one of them? I have to believe that this whole scenario will play out in the Yankees' favor. This isn't the Devil Rays were talking about here. The Yankees have had a pretty good track record. No one is getting rich betting against them.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
Never Give Up! Never Surrender! , II
Here is a running dialogue between a reader, David de la Fuente and myself regarding the Al MVP vote and my abhorrence for it:
David de la Fuente:
I personally cheer the Tejada selection. I mean, just because you don't agree with the way a bunch of writers vote doesn't invalidate their position or mean they're wrong, it just means you disagree. Why can there not be more than one definition of "most valuable"? A-Rod got a few votes. So people feel differently. What's so wrong with that?
There's nothing really wrong with it. I mean I loved John Kruk, and he was a good ballplayer. What if I voted for Kruk as my number one MVP choice every year? What if I voted for Ichiro when his team sank in the second half due in part to his .280 second-half batting average? Four voters thought that his performance in 2002 was among the top 10 in the AL. His teammate, John Olerud, had a fantastic year, slumped somewhat in the second half, and didn't get a vote because of it.
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear in my earlier letter. I'm not arguing for some anarchic, very personal standard for MVP voting.
Yes, perhaps the Kruk comment was a bit facetious. OK, the issue at hand is most valuable player as opposed to best player. That is the rationale that the writers who have commented have given as to why they selected Tejada over Rodriguez.
Also, James claims in "Win Shares" that only 41% of the MVPs match the best players by Win Shares. I don't know if that is an indictment of his system or of the voting system, but I would vote for the latter. Here are the ones that don't match. One last thing to keep in mind are the rankings James imposed: 30-40 MVP, 20-30 All-Star, 10-20 Solid regular; 0-10 bench player:
Year Lg MVP (WS); WS Champ (WS); Difference
What does this tell us? First, catchers and relief pitchers have been overvalued throughout. Second, great players (Mantle, Musial, Bonds, Raines, Henderson, Schmidt, Yaz, Aaron, Mays, Williams, and Ott to name a few) are easily overlooked. They had established a superlative level and the writers were not impressed unless they notched it up a bit. Another thing that we notice is that David's statement that sabermetrics have improved the voting does not hold true. Look at Juan Gonzalez's MVP seasons. The writers still love the juicy RBI totals. They also like idiosyncratic choices like a Ken Caminiti or a Terry Pendleton or a Miguel Tejada over superior players like Bonds, Bagwell, Sandberg, and A-Rod. One of these groups contains only Hall-of-Fame players. The other contains no HoF-caliber players. Guess which is which.
Let's either get rid of the subjectivity inherent in the "valuable" label or get rid of the baseball writers. It seems to me that in other sports the Gretszkys, Russells, Jordans, and Montanas can be called MVPs just by being great players. With all of the statistics at the baseball writers' fingertips, can't they at least get it right half the time?
NL to Manage Half-Baked All-Star
NL to Manage Half-Baked All-Star Game in 2003?
My esteemed friend Mike queries, "So who manages the NL All-Star team next year? I'm assuming it's the manager of the pennant-winning club, even if Dusty signs with Chicago, right?"
Good question. Well, the only precedent that I am aware of is Dick Williams. Williams managed the A's to two world championships in 1972 and '73, but resigned after the 1973 World Series. In game 2 of the Series leading 10-7 in the 12th, A's second baseman Mike Andrews made two errors following the last hit in Willie Mays' career to allow the Mets to even the series. Owner and well known ass Charlie O. Finley placed Andrews on the "disabled list" citing a sore shoulder, effectively deactivating him, after the game without consulting Williams. The incident drew a good deal of scorn from players, fans, and commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who ordered Andrews' reinstatement. Williams then privately informed his players prior to game 3 that he was retiring after the season. The A's won in seven games, and Williams stepped down. Incensed, Finley refused to release Williams from the last two years of his contract unless he got compensation from the team that signed him. The Yankees attempted to sign Williams, but Joe Cronin, the AL president, nixed the deal. Williams took over the Angels on June 30 from Bobby Winkles (after Whitey Herzog served as interim manger for four days) apparently without any compensation to the A's.
The All-Star game rolled around, and Williams was entitled to manage even though he no longer managed the AL champs. Cronin assigned Earl Weaver to the task, but he demured in favor of Williams. Williams did indeed manage the AL squad at the game, apparently in an Angels' uniform. So Mike Scioscia will not be the first Angel to manage an All-Star team, and Baker will manage the NL next year ostensibly as a Cub.
My one question is what would have happened if Baker had signed with the Mariners as many people theorized? Would the NL allow him to manage their team as an AL rep? Would it be a conflict of interest to manage against his players? These questions may seem a little silly now given that the game is largely viewed as an exhibition. Back in 1974, it was anything but: It was a knock-down, drag-out affair. The AL president at the time, fearing a continuation of the AL's losing streak (they had lost 10 out of the previous 11), ordered Williams to use his best players throughout the game. Nine of the 29 players on the AL squad did not participate in the game, but the AL lost anyway 7-2 and would not win again until 1983. However, this demonstrates how imprtant the game was to each league back then.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair.
It appears that we all have gotten a bit blasÚ when it comes to MVP voting. The openly acknowledged best AL player, Alex Rodriguez loses his umpteenth MVP award and this time it was not to an RBI-heavy outfielder or first baseman. It was to a fellow shortstop, arguably the third best in the league based on this year's stats. Not only that, it was a blowout-over 100 voting points (i.e, 25% of the maximum) different. For Pete's sake, Tejada admitted that he would vote for Rodriguez if he had a vote.
So the pundits are up in arms, right? No, they just shrug their collective head and march in line: "Was Rodriguez his league's best player? Yes. But the award doesn't go to the best player, it goes to the most valuable." (Jim Caple) and "I'm not going to argue that Alex Rodriguez should be the American League's MVP, because I'm not sure that he should." (Neyer) Does Jim Caple realize that Miguel Tejada is arguably the 17th best hitter in the league (by OPS)? Neyer at least argues that A-Rod is the fourth best hitter and that he plays in a hitter's park. I don't buy his argument, by the way, since a shortstop who is the fourth best hitter is more valuable than a first baseman (Thome) who is the best, especially one who won his first Gold Glove today. Oh, and his 23 road HRs are three more than Tejada had in 2002.
Not only that, A-Rod finished sixth on one voter's ballot! It's probably the same person who had Soriano tenth (while no one else had him lower than fifth). Not that Rodriguez would have caught up with Tejada had the voters picked him no lower than 2nd. Collect all of A-Rod's non-1st-place votes in the 2nd place bucket, and his total (277) is still almost 80 points below Tejada's.
My first reaction was that the system needs to be changed, but they won't do that since the writers don't want to change it. We could start a new award but this one will still have the cachet. So I give up on this issue.
Upon reflection my thoughts on the MVP issue are then twofold:
1) Do voters actually vote more based on the team's performance than the player's? Clearly they did with Tejada and Rodriguez, but does it hold true for all of the candidates. Here is a table of the MVP voting, each player's OPS (on-base plus slugging average), and his team's winning percentage. I have correlated the MVP votes to OPS and to the team winning percentage and then the MVP rank to OPS rank and team rank:
MVP Pos OPS Pos W-L Pos Votes PCT Miguel Tejada 356 1 .861 17 .636 2 Alex Rodriguez 254 2 1.015 4 .574 10 Alfonso Soriano 234 3 .880 14 .640 1 Garret Anderson 184 4 .871 16 .611 3 Jason Giambi 162 5 1.034 3 .640 1 Torii Hunter 132 6 .859 19 .584 4 Jim Thome 69 7 1.122 1 .457 9 Magglio Ordonez 59 8 .978 6 .500 7 Manny Ramirez 39 9 1.097 2 .574 5.5 Bernie Williams 32 10 .908 9 .640 1 David Eckstein 24 11.5 .752 57 .611 3 Nomar Garciaparra 24 11.5 .880 15 .574 5.5 Eric Chavez 14 13 .860 18 .636 2 Ichiro Suzuki 10 14 .813 32 .574 5.5 Mike Sweeney 1 15 .979 5 .383 12 Correlation Coeff 0.38% 39.22% 29.18% 24.51%
Note that the correlation between a player's performance to the MVP vote is only 29.18%. The correlation of his team's performance to the MVP vote is less than 5% less strong.
What does this mean? We have gotten to the point where the best players on the best teams are the ones that win the award, which leads to my second thought.
2) Don't Mr. Cub's MVP titles enter in to the conversation?
Caple argues that you cannot compare Rodriguez to Banks. Why not? Banks won the MVP in 1958 and '59 with the second and fourth best OPS, respectively, on a non-contender. Mays finished first in OPS in 1958, was second in batting average, third in on-base, 2nd (behind Banks) in slugging, first in runs, second in hits, sixth in doubles, tied for second (with Banks) in triples, sixth in home runs, sixth in RBI, sixth in walks, and first in stolen bases. He played for a team that finished third (in an 8-team league), 12 games behind the Braves. And he played a mean center field.
In 1959, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, and Frank Robinson finished ahead of Banks in OPS. The also finished ahead of him in batting average and on-base percentage. Aaron was ahead of Banks in slugging; the rest were slightly behind. Also, Mays finished tied with Banks in park-adjusted OPS. He was ahead of Banks in on-base and slightly behind in slugging.
Besides, Banks wasn't a Gold Glove shortstop. He was two years removed from being shifted to first base. The other players were considered excellent fielders at their positions. By the way, Milwaukee (Aaron and Matthews) finished two games out of first and the Giants (Mays) were 4 out.
Clearly, Banks does not apply here. Rodriguez has a much stronger case. Let's just change the MVP award to the Best Player on a Playoff Contender award and be done with it. Oh well, at least there's always the TSN Player of the Year award to look forward to.
Alou-sions of Grandeur? The Giants
Alou-sions of Grandeur?
The Giants hired Felipe Alou as their new manager today. Please see my posts re. Alou from mid-October entitled "What's Wrong with Being a Sexagenarian? Parts I and II"
Phils' Phrustating Phree Agent Phutility
Phils' Phrustating Phree Agent Phutility
The Philadelphia Phillies are now the biggest players in this off-season's free agent market. On the first day that offers may be made to free agents (yesterday), they offered a total of $100 million in contracts to three players (Jim Thome, Tom Glavine, and David Bell). They have been courting Thome like a booty-crazed Ben Affleck chases J-Lo.
As a Phillies' fan, I am cautiously optimistic. I know that this is all to kick off the promotions for the Phils' new stadium in 2004. I just can't shake the feeling of dread that I get whenever I hear the Phils making offers to free agents. Their recent history in this arena is deplorable.
I have made a compendium of their free agent futility over the last ten seasons (hopefully I did not miss anybody). Many point to Gregg Jefferies, but a true Phillies fan knows that a player that at least plays during his contract isn't all bad-Witness Mike Jackson, Norm Charlton, and Danny Tartabull:
My top 10 worst signings:
1) Mike Jackson, 2000
Do you notice that 1997 was an especially poor off-season for the Phils (3 in the top 10 worst and Mark Leiter and Mark Parent just missed the list-the Phils should never pursue another player named Mark again)? It's taken them since 1997 to pursue a high-profile position player. They also had very poor turf for a number of years, which scared away the talent for some time in the '90s.
Anyway, I don't know if any or all of the high-profile free agents will sign with the Phils, but recent history is not exactly in their favor if they do.
Knuckle Under Travis Nelson has
Travis Nelson has an interesting piece on the "Black Sox" Eddie Cicotte and what could have been if he had finished his career. With all the press and support that Joe Jackson has received over the years, Cicotte, who was a great pitcher in his day, gets nary a mention.
Cicotte is the only man with any real justification for his actions. According to Asinof's book and improved upon by John Sayles' film (not to mention Bill James' research), Cicotte was promised a $10,00 bonus for winning 30 games in 1919 but was held back for a few weeks to get rest before the World Series and ended up one win shy (Asinof said 1917 but James showed that it was impossible in 1917 though highly probable for 1919).
Cicotte was arguably the best pitcher in the game in 1919 (lead all major-league pitchers in win shares and was 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA). He may have ever had a better year in 1917 (28-12, 1.53 ERA, probably the best pitcher in the AL though maybe not as good as Pete Alexander of the Phillies). In 1913, his 1.58 ERA was 86% better than the adjusted league average though second in the league.
He wasn't just a one- or two-year wonder either. His adjusted ERA is 23% better than league average for his career. Bill James ranks him 60th among pitchers all-time and 50th for win shares per season among pitchers. This is significant since there are currently 59 pitchers in the Hall who got their tickets punched as major-league pitchers (i.e., not as managers or executives and not as Babe Ruth).
Cicotte was 36 in 1920, the last year before the ban. He had just had two very fine years. Eight Men Out, the film, implies that he was ready to retire. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Cicotte had exceeded 300 innings in 3 of his last 4 years, but had never worked more than 270 before his 30th birthday. I believe that he had at least 3 years left and maybe quite a bit more judging by contemporaries like teammate Red Faber, Pete Alexander, and Walter Johnson. If he could pitch at 75% of his previous three years (1918-20) for three more years, he would have won about 46 more games. That would have put him over 250, a compelling total for Hall-of-Fame voters.
That said, I think that Cicotte had Hall caliber numbers even if he had never thrown another pitch after 1920 (and had never thrown ballgames before 1920). He is deserving according to his Win Shares, his career ERA (2.38) is 23% better than the adjusted league average (2.92), and his handful of truly outstanding seasons.
However, I am not sure if the voters would have selected him due to a few issues. First, he had demonstrably off years every third year. His ERA is worse than the adjusted league average in 1910, '12, '15, and '18. The voters seem to find a player with a streak of good years more compelling. Dave Stewart may have a better chance than Dave Stieb, for example. His W-L ratios are not great in a few years when he pitched well (e.g., 1911, 13, and 14). The last issue (and this may be something that eludes the voters) is that his ERA looks less great when you realize that the average pitcher had an ERA under 3 for much of Cicotte's career. His 2.77 ERA in 1917 is actually above the adjusted league average (2.74).
I see Cicotte as a primordial Bert Blyleven. He's a guy with a specialty pitch (Cicotte the shine, Blyleven the curve). He had some so-so years thrown in with great ones. He had many years with poor win-loss ratios even though he pitched well. He pitched for some poor teams (Cicotte did early in his career). I believe that ultimately, even with the years Cicotte lost extrapolated out, Blyleven was a better pitcher (non-HoFers Tony Mullane, Tommy John, and Jim McCormick may have been better, too). Blyleven seems to me to be the best eligible pitcher not in the Hall right now.
One last note regarding Cicotte: They referred to him Cicott-E in the film and I had never heard it pronounced that way before (like they pronounced Johnny EE-vers in Ken Burn's baseball documentary). In Field of Dreams, they refer to him by his nickname, "Knuckles"-nice touch.
Barry Bonding, II John J
Barry Bonding, II
John J Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters has more on the man-child named Bonds. As John points out, Bonds has never been involved in anything untoward, and yet the press hold him to a ridiculous standard. No wonder the guy feels unloved.
Barry Bonding On winning his
On winning his record fifth MVP award, Barry Bonds alluded to feeling unfulfilled. He wants more and it's not just a World Series ring that he's alluding to. Is it that shiny new bicycle, a model train, or a date to the prom? No, he's well taken care of in those areas.
What Bonds needs is to be loved:
``I wish I was liked as much as them [Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Joe Montana] for the accomplishments I have,'' Bonds said from Japan, where he is on the major league all-star tour. ``I wish I had the same respect as them. People really admire their accomplishments.''
Hey Bondsy, who couldn't love the greatest hitter of his generation? Especially when he says things like, ''I'm trying to figure out why a 38-year-old is still playing like this.'' He's refreshing, he's delightful, he's d-sugar-free.
America, don't dwell on his press clippings. Admire this talent while he lasts. Because we won't see his kind for some time.
MINF MVP, no relation to
MINF MVP, no relation to MILF, II
Jim Baker at ESPN has an article on the top candidates for AL MVP. He ranks Miguel Tejada, Alfonso Soriano, and Alex Rodriguez 1-2-3. He's probably right, though I'm still hoping A-Rod will win. It does seem like it will be close though.
One odd thing about the Tejada-Soriano-Rodriguez trifecta is that it would mark the first time that three middle infielders have finished in the top 3 in MVP voting ever. If I may quote myself, "The closest was 1912 when Larry Doyle (1), Honus Wagner (2), and Joe Tinker (4) finished in the top four in the NL." I did a post on the MINF MVPs back in October.
There have been a number of close two-man races, but what is the closest three-man MVP vote? Many people remember that the 1960 AL MVP vote was very close between number 1, Roger Maris (225 of the maximum 336 points, or 67% of the maximum, and 8 1st places) , and number 2, Mickey Mantle (222, 66%, 10 1st places). But not a lot of people remember that Brooks Robinson was right behind them (211, 63%, 3 1st places). There were only four percentage points between number one and number 3. The next closest is 5 percentage points which happened three times: NL 1957 (Aaron, Musial, and Schoendienst), AL 1955 (Berra, Kaline, and Al Smith), and NL 1952 (Sauer, Roberts, and Black). A six-point differential happened once: AL 1999 (Pudge Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, and Robbie Alomar).
Peter Out Peter Gammons has
Peter Gammons has an article on the why it is best not to put all your eggs in one nest, er, player (Teams don't always get what they pay for). The article stinks of someone else's research (specifically Doug Pappas' whose salary numbers start in 1985. Besides it is preceded by an article on the Braves' rotation options for 2003 with Maddux and Glavine apparently gone and in typical Gammons-speak not one stat, barring captions, is employed throughout).
Besides, the impetus for the article is the potential of the Phils signing Jim Thome for $15 M (a sum that cannot be proposed to Thome officially until tomorrow but is already a forgone conclusion in the media):
[B]ut the days of the $17 million-$20 million contracts may become antique concepts. The dangers of a team in small- or medium-sized markets putting a large contract in the hands of a single player it cannot do without have come back to haunt the team time and again.
First, let us make it clear that Philadelphia is a large-market team, protestations by Phils ownership to the contrary notwithstanding.
Second, will Thome's $15 M contract, assuming that will be the Phils' offer and that he accepts, be indeed 15% of their team payroll? They would have to have a payroll over $100 M and this year they were under $60 M and are in the process of jettisoning a lot of high-priced veteran dead weight (Terry Adams, Ricky Bottalico, Robert Person). Let's look at next year's guaranteed contracts: The Phillies have $8.5 devoted to Bobby Abreu in 2003 (plus $3 M signing bonus), which will escalate to $15 M by 2007. Mike Lieberthal will make between $7.25 and $7.5 M a year over the next three seasons. Jose Mesa is owed $4.5 for 2003, Rheal Cormier $2.9, and Turk Wendell $3.25. Tomas Perez signed for $1.3 M over the next two years. Pat Burrell is arbitration-eligible this year and will get a big bump up from $1.275 M in 2002 (let's say $5 M). That's about $53 M for seven players. They have a few young players who will get substantial increases in the upcoming seasons due to arbitration. They are also pursuing David Bell (in the $5 M per season range) and a few big-name starting pitchers.
Let's say that they sign Thome at $15 M and get at least one big-name free agent in the $5-10 M range. That would give them at least $73 M devoted to 9 players. Let's say they give Randy Wolf , Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Anderson/Placido Polanco, and Vicente Padilla at least $750 K each. Say, of the rest (12 players), half play at league minimum (just raised to $300K), and the other half play at about twice that, that gives them an additional $5.8 (the Phils had 6 players under $300K this year).
The team salary would about $82-87 M, short of the $100 M figure. That's for this year. Let's assume that the Phils are building for their moving into their new stadium in 2004. In a couple of years, Abreu will be approaching the $15 M range, and Marlon Byrd, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, the second baseman (Anderson or Polanco), as well as much of the starting rotation will be maturing and will get substantial increases due to arbitration. The Phillies may continue to pursue high-end free agents next winter to create a buzz for the move. It is not inconceivable that the $18 M shortage could be made up in a year or two as the Phils' young players mature and the team tries to make a run at the playoffs.
Third, he's examining the symptom and not the cause. It's not that signing players for a lot of money is bad. It's signing one player for a lot and then having a bunch of scrubs that is bad. Take a look at the Florida Marlins for example (this is using both Sean Lahman's database and Doug Pappas' salary data):
Team Year Tm Payroll Max Salary Max % W L Pct Pos FLA 1993 19,705,545 4,225,000 21.44% 64 98 .395 6 FLA 1994 21,633,000 4,625,000 21.38% 51 64 .443 5 FLA 1995 24,515,781 5,625,000 22.94% 67 76 .469 4 FLA 1996 31,132,000 6,135,000 19.71% 80 82 .494 3 FLA 1997 48,583,000 7,000,000 14.41% 92 70 .568 2 FLA 1998 41,492,667 14,936,667 36.00% 54 108 .333 5 FLA 1999 21,085,000 7,000,000 33.20% 64 98 .395 5 FLA 2000 20,072,000 7,000,000 34.87% 79 82 .490 3 FLA 2001 35,762,500 7,000,000 19.57% 76 86 .469 4
The Marlins before and after 1997 were a similar team according to Gammons' study. But in reality they were worlds apart. The 1993-96 version was a young team that had a low salary base with a couple of free agent signings that exceeded 15% of the total payroll. In 1997, they had a relatively large team payroll but no one player getting the lion's share. In 1998, they dealt with the excesses of '97, and from 1999 until today, they have been a small market team that has had a couple of ill-advised free agent signing that they couldn't divorce themselves from.
Gammons' study is lacking cause and effect. Without that the numbers lose their meaning. The context must first be determined by asking questions like: Is this a young team that is rebuilding in earnest or one that made choices in the past that are still haunting them? Is this a well-balanced veteran team with a number of players deservedly being paid a healthy salary or just a collection of low paid scrubs? By comparing players' salaries to the rest of his team you lose the context. Looking at the team payroll within the league or looking at the change from the previous year(s) would be an interesting study because it would provide context.
I do give him props for trying. Welcome to sabermetrics in the 1980s, Peter.
MVP: Most Voted Player, II
MVP: Most Voted Player, II
MVP: Most Voted Player Today
MVP: Most Voted Player
Today Barry Bonds will win his record fifth MVP award (breaking the record, four, he established last year). I was wondering if Bonds would be a unanimous pick this year, which in turn caused me to wonder how rare such a feat was.
There have been 15 MVPs who were unanimous selections. They are:
1911 Ty Cobb, AL
Bonds has never won unanimously. Here are the results for each time that he won the award:
1990 Bonds: 23 out of 24 first place votes; 1 first place to Bobby Bonilla
For those of you interested in the other end of the spectrum, here are the MVP winners receiving the lowest percentage of points available (the number of votes and the system to allocate points have changed over time):
45% Frank Schulte, NL, 1911
Beany and Sequel In a
Beany and Sequel
In a surprise turnaround, Billy Beane has turned down a more lucratic contract with the Red Sox to stay on as GM of the A's. Apparently, someone in Major League Baseball does have a conscience.
Oakland Eh's? An official with
An official with the A's reportedly said that the team considers his departure to the Red Sox "a foregone conclusion" and that "We consider him to have moved on."
My reaction to this is twofold:
1) What Beane could do with a $100-million team salary and a minor-league organization that is financially well-supported may be breathtaking.
2) Much was made of the A's losing Jason Giambi's bat last year. Next year they will possibly have a new GM and manager. Art Howe is a serviceable manager but Beane has been an outstanding GM, getting the most for the A's with their limited resources. After the team was sagging early in the season having lost Giambi, Beane revamped the offense on May 22 and turned their season around (for the umpteenth time). It will be interesting to see how the A's as a team and an organization react to this. Will Barry Zito's initial reaction-"If we keep stripping down to the bare essentials, how far can we go?"-permeate the entire team? I would think that a scenario's like the Mariners', i.e. their success after losing "The Big Three" (Randy Johnson, Ken Griffer Jr., and Alex Rodriguez), would be somewhat more remote given a) the effect throughout the organization with the A's departures and b) the A's limited resources. But we will have to see. I am surprised that the A's are so cavalier about his imminent departure though.
Boston SABR Sox? The Red
Boston SABR Sox?
The Red Sox have opened discussions with Oakland GM Billy Beane after being granted access by the A's. They have already signed up Bill James as a special advisor.
This team is an upgrade from the the Dan Duquette days. Duquette was a tin-plated sabermetrician who believed that the Roger Clemens was in the twilight of his career in 1986 but was at least was well-informed enough to acquire Pedro Martinez from the Expos. Duquette never was a leader of men alienating stars like Clemens, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, and Carl Everett and not backing his manager Jimy Williams in his battles with Everett.
With Friends Like Joe... The
With Friends Like Joe...
The other day I started to crave Joe Morgan Chat Day at ESPN, but since Joe retreats to the golf course over the long winter months, there was nary a Joe Morgan quip to be found. To sate my Jones I took Long Balls, No Strikes, Joe's 1998 State of the Baseball Union Address, out of the library.
No sooner do I crack open this scholarly tome then what ever should I find in chapter 8? No, not Joe's meatloaf recipe, like a bat out of heck no. I found Joe's take on the Pete Rose situation.
Here's a choice moment:
Pete claims he bet on the ponies and other sports, but never on ballgames. My heart wants to believe him when he says he did not violate the rules. But it's difficult for my head to accept his protestations of innocence.
Secret evidence? Maybe Joe didn't get the NL presidency because he was too na´ve, not because he wasn't impartial. Look, baseball had a handpicked investigator whose main evidence was a copy of betting slips allegedly written by Pete Rose. Does Joe mean to tell us that all the while there was some piece of evidence that would have proven Rose's guilt that a) wasn't gathered by the Dowd investigation and b) was inexplicably not given to Dowd to augment his 225-page report. Does this sound reasonable? Why hide the evidence when this has proven such a divisive issue?
Morgan points to Rose's quiescence in accepting the agreement with baseball to be added proof of his guilt. This is like saying a rape victim "asked for it." Rose was in a bad spot. He knew that what baseball had uncovered was more damning in the criminal courts than in the kangaroo court. He had the FBI on his trail and made a deal to cut his losses. He had advisers telling what was best-he was not a lone, cornered man fighting his way out of a fix. Besides he thought that the agreement a) didn't mention betting on baseball and b) guaranteed that he could apply for reinstatement in one year. Why isn't the rationale that Rose uses, i.e., that he didn't take the agreement to mean that he would in actuality be banned for life, reasonable?
Morgan claims that baseball would never banish a star without the goods. How does he know what baseball would do. He spends the first chapter detailing the history of the players' struggles with the owners and the lies and machinations the owners have been a party to over the years. Why is he so sure that Rose's overall pungency did not taint the baseball management's view of the issue? One should remember that the Giamatti and Vincent regimes were known for their draconian measures, including an excessive fine on Rose the previous year for bumping an umpire. Joe's gut feelings aside, this is more of the same old rhetoric.
Here's a story Morgan relates about a Hall of Fame alumni dinner during the weekend of Mike Schmidt's induction ceremony. Schmidt had said that Rose deserves to be in the Hall in his speech:
After the greetings, we open the floor to discuss general baseball topics. We can talk about anything that is happening in the game or the Hall. On the night of Schmidt's induction, Robin Roberts, the former great Philadelphia Phillies right-hander, used this session to address the point raised by Mike that very afternoon. Robin wanted to know how the assembled Hall of Famers felt about Pete's ineligible status. He proposed that we discuss the issue to see if we could achieve some consensus that would form the basis for an official statement to the press. For the next hour, the ballroom became a war zone.
Wow, pretty heated stuff. It's interesting that the players, some of whom played with Rose and/or knew him well, all seem to assume that Rose was guilty and therefore in the majority oppose his induction. However, the belief that if Rose were to now mea cupla his plaque in Cooperstown would be assured seems to have had some resonance with the players. Don't they seem like contradictory believes? If you believe that there is enough evidence to prove Rose's guilt, why would you ever consider allowing him to enter Cooperstown's hallowed Hall? If you think the evidence is weak, why do you need an apology? It seems that the two mutually exclusive ideas are merged into one, something like "Rose is guilty but we can't really prove it so well, so yeah, the case is kinda iffy. Therefore, if he apologizes, we will forget the tainted evidence-that Rose is validating with the apology-and let him in."
What kind of twisted mind comes up with this stuff? Oh, it was Joe's. Never mind.
The Plaintive Plaitiff Below is
The Plaintive Plaitiff
Below is my bit on the defense of Pete Rose that John J Perricone posted at the beginning of the week as part of his series on Rose. I just wanted to post it here to ensure that I keep it in my archive. If you've already read it, it's OK-you can skip it for now.
The Rose Defense
[Semi-opaque outline of obese man, left profile. The enshrouded image of a man perfectly fitting that profile enters stage right. The outline is removed and the stage lights are turned up to reveal Alfred Hitchcock. He is dressed in a cricket widget-keeper's uniform and equipment. He speaks.]
Hitchcock: Good Eave-ah-ning. You may be wondering why I am so attired on this evening. No, the source is not a dyspeptic one-hopefully-as it's tonight's narrative that is the impetus. We prepare to present to you the story of Steve Austin, a man barely alive...No wait, that was last week's story. Try the next cue card if you would. No, that's next week's story about a man named Jed.
Obviously, ladies and gentlemen, my attire was to educe to the viewer a tale related to your American game of base. The cricketeer's equipage were the best that we could produce. Anyway, the story was to be the strange case of one Peter Edward Rose, Sr., a man who was exiled, as it were, from the baseball community that he was so integral a part of for so many years.
The network in its inimitable way has proceeded to thwart any such attempt. What is the reason? Well, almost any word that you hear, read, or see on the telly was produced by some entity, who somehow has ownership of or a business agreement with Major League Baseball. I've been prattling on about the foibles of my sponsors for years when I should have been worried about the bed partners of the representatives at my network. Ahhh!
[Arrow is shot from off-camera right. It pierces Hitchcock's chest and he crumples to the ground immediately. John Cleese enters stage right dressed as a Medieval knight. With a slightly surprised and somewhat put out expression. Grabs note attached to arrow.]
Cleese: Ah, good evening. We at Mike's Baseball Rants would like to thank our gracious host, John Perricone, here at Only Baseball Matters who has allowed us to insert, oh well, a few thousand words on the matter of Pete Rose in our own...oh, what's the word? Uh.
Hitchcock [on floor]: Idiom, sir?
Cleese: Yes, idiom. O, poor sweet Hitchcock, your death will not go unavenged.
Hitchcock [now sitting up with arrow still in chest]: I think I'm alright sir.
Cleese [annoyed at the interruption]: Oh well. I shall now sally forth to present hereafter the particulars in the case of said Mister Charles Hustle. Tonight we will present for your approval the Defense of Pete Rose.
[Now running towards camera with camera keeping pace backwards.] We start with the assumption that this is something that would be adjudged in a court of law. Next we proceed to the skipping of the prosecution. That we assume was presented by the contents of the Dowd report sans objection by the defense. The defense's case is presented from opening statement through calling witnesses to closing arguments in one swell foop, er, fell swoop. Finally, we people the defense with an inordinate number of fictional defense lawyers for our own amusement and cheap laughs.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts:
[Still running, unrolls note and holds up to camera. Camera stops and note fills screen as sound of a crash is heard. Followed by a trumpet flare.]
[Note reads the following words. Read by voice over]:
Quincy-Starring Jack Klugman, A Quinn Martin Production
[Dissolves. And new words appear.]
Tonight's Episode: Strike Three, You're Dead
[Dissolves. And new words appear.]
Phase One: In which Doris gets her oats.
[Dissolves. And new words appear.]
Peter Edward Rose, Sr.
Prosecuting Attorney-John Dowd (who I have never seen so I will insert John Dowd, a guy with whom I went to high school, whose lisp was often confused for an English accent.)
Judge-Ray Walston, as a combination of Mr. Hand from "Fast Times", Judge Henry Bone from "Picket Fences", and the devil in "Damn Yankees!"
Various witnesses, investigators, juries, bailiffs, and courtroom personnel.
[Note disappears. Slow dissolve to the corridors of a judicial-looking building. Quincy is pacing nervously. Barnaby Jones and his sidekick Betty appear.]
Quincy [hunched over, grabbing them, and gesticulating wildly]: Oh how great it is that you could be here. Sam and I did the forensics for the handwriting piece. What are you doing here?
Barnaby: Well doggies! We did this here polygraph analysis and some of what you might call developing theoretical frameworks for the motives and actions of the various individuals involved based on our investigations. Nothing atypical. Well now, we'd better take a seat. It looks like they're plumb fixing to start.
Ray Walston [Banging gavel]: Order! Order! Mr. Stewart, are you ready to present your defense?
Jimmy Stewart: Hold on there, judge. I might be a small-town lawyer without the wherewithal as our well-informed friend over there on the prosecution. But by cracky, I have an opening statement to present.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury you've heard the case for the prosecution and it seems pretty damning. I am half-convinced myself to have a seat and just allow you fine citizens to adjourn to find my client guilty.
Lionel Hutz [Interrupting]: But Jimmy we won't get paid.
Stewart: Damn it, Hutz. That was for dramatic effect and now you've gone and ruined it. I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider! [Looking up] Clarence! [Hutz disappears in a cloud of smoke and is quickly forgotten.]
What is the accusation that Major League Baseball has against our client? That he gambled? No. That he even gambled on baseball? Even though there is gossip to the reverse, no. In baseball's own rules, Rule 21 section d, it says and I quote:
(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Mr. Rose has already been ineligible for well over 12 years.
The accusation is that Mr. Rose gambled on his own team to wit, the remainder of Rule 21 section d:
Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
That is the means that they have to keep Mr. Rose out of baseball. Did my client bet on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, while he was their manager?
We are prepared to say emphatically, "No." Mr. Rose has continually denied this accusation at every opportunity for the past 13 years, you see. He accepted an agreement based on Rule 21, that goes on to state in section f-and here it is, don't miss it:
OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.
My client signed an agreement because he knew that his past would fit this "Other Misconduct". But he and his lawyer Rueven Katz, -that's the man's name-made sure that their agreement stated emphatically:
c. Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.
The chain of evidence that the prosecution has provided is so poorly constructed that we will show that they are nothing more than fabrications and that they not only knew this but agreed to it in writing.
They rely on the testimony of men who have grudges against Rose and would do anything to ruin him or men who have provided false evidence to cop a plea. The physical evidence is inconclusive and was supplied by one of the men I just mentioned. This man, Paul Janszen, used Rose's name to place bets, some of which were on baseball, with bookies who would otherwise not have given a small player such as him the time of day. He lived with Rose and did his bidding, and when Rose had a falling out with him over his drug involvement, this man did everything in his power to ruin Mr. Rose.
That is what the defense is prepared to show. You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!
[Tumult in the courtroom. Walston bangs gavel.]
Walston: Order! Order!
Al Pacino: Order?!? You're out of order! The whole courtroom is out of order!
[Pacino is dragged from the courtroom by two armed guards.]
Walston: Defense, you may now call your witnesses.
Stewart [To Cruise]: Tom, you handle the witnesses. You're great at that.
Tom Cruise [doffs Red Sox cap]: We call Ron Peters. I need my bat. I think better with my bat.
Demi Moore [with bat, whispering and looking at Rose]: Why do you hate him so much?
Cruise: He inserted himself in the lineup to break Ty Cobb's hits record even though he had no business still being on a baseball field, that's all he did. The rest is just smoke filled coffeehouse crap.
Moore: Oh. [Gets up on defense team's table and starts to strip. Is removed.]
Cruise: Mr. Peters, in your previous testimony you stated that you placed bets on baseball games, including Reds' games, for Mr. Rose either directly or through Mr. Gioiosa or Mr. Janszen. Is that correct?
Cruise: You also testified that you recorded the entries in a betting log. Is that correct?
Cruise: How were entries made in this log?
Peters: Well, I got a call and wrote down the bettor, the amount, and the game involved.
Cruise: Just you?
Cruise: Didn't you say in your testimony that your girlfriend, Dave Morgan, wrote in the log as well.
Joe Morgan: That's my long-last cousin Dave. We named her after Dave Concepcion who we are going fast-track into the Hall of Fame this year on my recommendation.
Cruise: Sit down, Joe. [Gestures with bat.]
Peters: Well, yeah, Dave took a few calls.
Cruise: Didn't you state in your deposition that others who worked at your restaurant and who answered the phone had access to the log?
Peters: Sure, I...
Cruise: How many people was that. This is in 1987 of course.
Peters: I don't know ten, twelve but they only wrote down what the person on the phone said.
Cruise: So they all knew Rose by hearing his voice?
Peters: Nah, probably not. They just wrote down what the person said.
Cruise: So Rose would identify himself?
Peters: Nah, he used "Pete" or "PR" or something.
Cruise: But if he said "Pete Rose" they would write it down.
Peters: You bet.
Cruise: So if someone else said they were Pete Rose or that they were calling for him, they would just write down his name, right?
Peters: Nah, I think they'd know. Anyway...
Cruise: Never mind. You had this log and the phone area in general under very tight security, I assume?
Peteres: Whadja mean?
Cruise: Well, could anyone have walked in off the street just written in the book.
Peters: Nah, somebody'd see 'em. Besides nobody'd know what it was.
Cruise: Wouldn't someone who has placed bets with you, say Paul Janszen, have known where the book was?
Dowd: I Objwect. Speculation.
Cruise: I withdraw the question. Mr. Peters, you stated that you typically would destroy your record, but in Rose's case you didn't. Why?
Peters: Well, he still owed me from a way back, so I thought this was good insurance.
Cruise: So you don't have a lot of other entries for other people. Isn't it true that you have only one entry in the record book that could be interpreted as pointing to Mr. Rose, a line reading, "Pete -41800". This the prosecution took to mean that Mr. Rose, owed you 41800 dollars. Couldn't it mean another Pete?
Peters: Nah, I knew it was Rose. I didn't need a last name wid him.
Cruise: So you're basically saying it's your word against Rose's?
Peters: Yeah, wait... No. It's written down!
Cruise: You state that Rose won $27,000 in the first week of May 1987 betting on baseball. Correct?
Cruise: Are you aware that Mr. Janszen, who acted as an intermediary, reported that he collected $25,000, 23 for Rose and 2 for himself?
Peters: So, I don't know where he gets his numbers.
Cruise: You got your numbers from your log, right?
Cruise: So where are they now if you were saving all of the Rose information?
Cruise: Never mind. Mr. Peters, is it true that you attorney offered your story to Sports Illustrated on March 13, 1989, in the middle of this investigation?
Peters: An opportunity presented itself. You make it seem so... dirty.
Cruise: I'll take that as a yes. You indicate that Rose owed you $34,000 in 1986 and you wouldn't take any bets from him until it was paid. When Rose showed you a canceled check in the amount of $34,000 cashed by Tom Gioiosa, you allowed him to re-open his "account" with you, correct?
Peters: Yeah. So?
Cruise: Well, you indicate several times in your deposition that you still considered that debt unpaid.
Peters: I can't spend a canceled check.
Cruise: So you continued to hold a grudge over the amount?
Peters: I wouldn't say a grudge. I just wanted my money.
Cruise: During the investigation, did you ever feel like the prosecution wanted you to say certain things about Rose even though you knew they weren't true?
Peters: What kinda things?
Joe Pesci: Enough a dis. Ask him if he ever bet on any Utes!
Walston: Ute? What's a Ute?
Pesci: It's a Utah college basketball player. [Walston points finger at Pesci and just strikes him dead on the spot. He slumps over and smoke billows from Walston's finger. He blows the smoke away.]
Cruise: Well, did you ever feel that they wanted you to say Rose bet on baseball and on the Reds?
Peters [Nervously looking down and up at the prosecutions table]: No, no, no.
Cruise: Well, you were being investigated by the FBI. I quote:
Late in 1988 Janszen began to cooperate with the government in its continuing drug and tax investigation As part of this cooperation, Janszen agreed to wear a hidden microphone in a meeting with Ron Peters. This transaction lead to Peters' being charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Needless to say, since that time, Peters has not considered Janszen a friend.
Cruise: So, you were helping the investigators so that they would put in a good word at the FBI, right? John Dowd is quoted in your deposition as saying, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but in exchange for you full and truthful cooperation with the commissioner, the commissioner has agreed to bring to the attention of the U.S. District Judge in Cincinnati the fact that you were of assistance to us and that we believe that you have been honest and complete in the your cooperation. Is that the understanding?" You answered, "Yes it is."
Peters: You see it was based on me tellin' the truth.
Cruise: When you relayed a story about Gioiosa and Rose visiting your restaurant to collect their winnings, didn't the following interchange occur at the deposition: Dowd: "Wouldn't that be winnings on baseball?" You: "Well..." Dowd prompting you: "Summertime?" You: "I believe it was, yes. It most likely was." Why did you change your answer?
Peters: Well, you see, I thought about the question a little more.
Cruise: So you weren't being badgered by the prosecution?
Dowd: Your honor!
Cruise: I withdraw. Your witness.
Dowd: No furwther qwestions, you honorw.
Walston: You may step down. [Casually points finger at Peters. A bolt of lightning reduces him to ash and smoke.
David St. Hubbins [standing up in court]: Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.
Nigel Tufnel [next to him]: That's true
Walston [banging gavel]: Order! [St. Hubbins and Tufnet are seated.] Call your next witness [to the defense team].
Perry Mason: Our next witness is a surprise. Someone who when he showed up today never suspected that we would be calling on him as a witness. I have handed the subpoena to the bailiff and he will be delivered to the witness stand in seconds.
Perry Masonary: Mason, you're nuts. The next witness is Michael Bertolini. He's on the witness list. He's standing here waited to be called. Everything has to be so dramatic with you. Can't you just have a normal trial? Besides, none of your characters have names that end in "rock" or "stone" or sound the least bit Bedrock-like.
Mason: Masonary, you are nothing but a two bit hack stealing my act.
Masonary: Oh yeah. [Grabs Mason in a choke hold and they wrestle on the floor in front of the defense table with their hands on each other's necks. They both stop moving at the same time and shuffle off the mortal coil. The scene continues with the characters stepping over their bodies throughout.]
Stewart: All right now, we call Michael Bertolini to the stand. [Pause] Mr. Bertolini, you were a friend of Mr. Rose's and an acquaintance of sorts of Paul Janszen's, correct?
Mike Bertolini: Well...
Stewart: You see, Mr, Bertolini, as you know Janszen recorded a conversation between you two April 4, 1988. In that conversation Janszen says, "He still owes me about 12 grand." You respond, "So, he paid you about 38?" Janszen, "Huh?" Why did you ask if he had $38,000 left unpaid? Did you think that Janszen was at one time owed $50,000 by Mr. Rose?
Bertolini: That was what I thought, yeah so?
Stewart: Well, you see, what led you to believe that?
Bertolini: Janszen told me that, maybe six months before.
Stewart: Now, you are certain of that?
Bertolini: Yes, I am.
Stewart: Nothing further. [Bertolini leaves with a confused expression.]
Daniel Webster [To Stewart]: I shall take a hand in the next witness bearer. [To court] We call one, Steve Crevashire.
Walston: Webster, is that you?
Webster: Why yes 'tis, your honor [bowing].
Walston: Your honor? Take that! [Points a finger at Webster like a gun. Fires. Webster is reduced to a pile of ashes. To camera:] That's the last time Webster outsmarts me in a courtroom!
Wayne Campbell [standing with Garth Algar next to him]: Ya-hah? Time out. Only Garth and I can speak directly to the camera. [Garth shakes head happily]
Lara Flynn Boyle: Wayne? Hi, it's me.
Wayne: Ah, we broke up over 2 months ago. You're mental. Move on. [Leaves courtroom]
Boyle [grabs gunrack from under table and chases after him]: Wayne, I have an anniversary present for you.
Garth [all eyes now shift to him, still standing. Shrugs. Says meekly]: Game on. [sits down quietly].
Bailiff: Steve Crevahore to the stand.
Stewart: Mr. Crevashore, you-now feel free to correct me if I'm wrong-you placed bets for Paul Janszen in 1987 with a bookmaker in New York identified only as "Val"-that's quite a mysterious name, now isn't it, Val? Now, Mr. Crevashore, on December 27, 1988, Mr. Janszen taped a conversation between the two of you, I have a few...questions about that conversation.
Steve Crevashore: Go ahead and ask.
Stewart: Well, let's not get too anxious, Mr. Crevashore. Now, in this conversation, Paul Janszen and you discuss an incident in which Janszen's girlfriend, Danita Marcum, accidentally told you to place a bet for $3000 (3 dimes in your colorful vernacular) instead of $300 (3 nickels). Right?
Crevashore: That's what the man said.
Stewart: Well, throughout these proceedings Mr. Rose's acquaintances and Mr. Rose himself have said that Mr. Rose placed bets consistently for $2000 (or 2 dimes in your quaint language).
Stewart: So didn't you think that $3000 or even $300 was out of character for my client? Could someone else have placed the bet?
Crevashore: Look Rose said that he was placing bets for him, so it was none of my business, but to tell you the truth, I assumed the bet was Paulie's, uh, Mr. Janszen's.
Stewart: But he told you it was Rose's?
Crevashore: People do that. They use a bigger player's name to place bets that they wouldn't otherwise be able to get action on.
Walston: Sustained. Strike that last statement.
Stewart: Later in the conversation, didn't you ask Janszen: "He [Mr. Rose] didn't say that you were betting under a false pretense, under ghost bets." Were you asking if that was true or making a statement?
Crevashore: Well, I was feeling him out, where he stood. He never answered.
Stewart: But you doubted?
Stewart: Nothing further.
Marcia Clark: Your honor, we call Dr. Quincy.
Walston: Dr. What Quicy? Does he have a first name?
Johnny Cochrane: Here's the deal, your honor. It's one name-Quincy, that's it.
Walston: OK, I'll allow it, but he better not be so evasive on the stand.
Clark: Dr. Quincy, I'd like to ask you-
Dr. Quincy: It's Eugene. I admit it. I can't lie anymore. The name's Eugene.
Clark: Dr. Quincy, I don't care about your first name-Eugene?!? Anyway, Dr. Quincy, you reviewed the handwriting samples and what did you find?
Quincy: Sam and I took a gander and you know, can I have a drink? Hey, you're kinda cute. What are you doing after the trial? Have you ever seen a morgue?
Clark: Dr. Quincy?!?
Quincy: Anyway, the first thing we noticed was that Mr. Rose was asked to copy the betting slips. That's not usual.
Clark: Oh, No?
Quincy: No, since the results will too closely match the original. That's bad. Besides the slips we reviewed were a copy of the originals. The writing was in block letters, making a match easy. The style changes. There is no way to know what the intention of the note is out of context. Is it a betting slip, a record of actual bets, theoretical bets, results of games from a sports line, etc. Who knows? Besides on April 9, 1987, the date of the first slip, three entries are marked as "B" apparently for baseball. Of the three games: Atl-Philly game was also an NBA game. There was no LA-Hou or Cin-Mon game. They did play April 8, and that game was in Cincy not Montreal as the slip said. We thought that was suspicious since Rose would know the site of the game. In my opinion, there is no evidence that the original was made by the hand of Pete Rose nor that if it was Rose, that it reflected major-league games let alone Reds games.
Cochrane: If the note isn't great, you must exculpate.
Stewart: All right. That's all, Dr. Quincy.
Mr. Slick: We call...hmm...ah... Paul Janszen?
Stewart: That was a terrible read.
Slick: But it's my only line [falls into seat sobbing].
Stewart: Now then, Mr. Janszen, you claim that during the 1987 baseball season, Rose utilized you to place his bets. Is that correct?
Paul Janszen: Yeah.
Stewart: Would you say that prior to the investigation your relationship with Rose was good?
Stewart: But didn't the Roses throw your girlfriend, Danita Marcum, out of their house? And didn't Mr. Rose severe all ties to you after he found out about your cocaine use?
Janszen: Look there's a lot of water under that bridge. I have no hard feelings though.
Stewart: You claim to have taken a loan out to pay off Mr. Rose's debts with Val and yet he failed to pay you back? How did that make you feel?
Janszen: I wasn't happy if that's what you mean, but it was only business.
Stewart: But wasn't your life threatened by someone who made calls to your mother over the phone?
Janszen: I didn't take those seriously.
Stewart: You have a recording of Steve Chevashore saying that you were owed $50,000 from Rose.
Janszen: He was confused. It wasn't that much.
Stewart: Right, you claimed Rose owed you $44,000 in July 1987.
Janszen: That sounds about right.
Stewart: And Rose wanted you to go to Peters to collect his $40,000 in winnings with him. Right?
Janszen: Yeah, I couldn't believe it. I mean, it just wasn't good business.
Stewart: Peters only paid you $6000, the difference between Rose's winnings and the original debt to Peters that was still in question?
Janszen: Yeah, that's it.
Stewart: So you went to Rose's attorney, Reuven Katz to ask for some money without telling the FBI, who you were by then working with. You told Katz about the gambling you had done for Rose, including betting on the Reds and you volunteered that you would "protect" Rose with the federal authorities. At this point Katz, by your account, merely put his head down, made a gesture with his hands and said, "That's it; it's over." You asked for $20,000 but Katz gave you a $10,000 check marked "For loan" and that was all. Is this true?
Janszen: I was just trying to get my money back.
Stewart: But could you see how someone might think this was blackmail-saying I have this information but I'll protect you for a certain amount of cash?
Stewart: Apparently you didn't stick by your word and protect Rose anyway, did you?
Walston: Mr. Stewart, tread lightly here.
Stewart: Yes, your honor. So you claim to be owed $44,000. You get $6,000 from Peters, and $10,000 from Katz. So you are now owed, if my grade school math doesn't fail me, $28,000. Am I correct?
Janszen: Sure, you seem like a smart guy to me. I'll take your word for it.
Stewart: But on March 2, 1989, your lawyer, Mr. Shivedecker, wrote a letter to Robert Pitcain, one of Rose's lawyers, stating you were owed $33,850. Where did the extra $5,850 come from?
Janszen: Uh, I don't know I'd have to look at the numbers.
Stewart: And yet in an April 4, 1988, conversation you had with Mr. Bertolini, you claim that Rose owes you as little as $10,000-"Anywhere from $10-$12,000" you are recorded as saying.
Janszen: Look I said I have to look at the numbers.
Stewart: It seems that your numbers can be changed to fit whatever situation you want them to.
Dowd: Your honor.
Walston: Mr. Stewart, I suggest you move on here.
Stewart: Yes, your honor. When you bet by for yourself, did you let the various bookies and middlemen know it was for you?
Janszen: Yeah, sure.
Stewart: On December 27, 1988, didn't you and Steve Chevashore have this conversation?:
CHEVASHORE: Because you know what they said, if you were the culprit and wrong, he [meaning Rose] is supposed to take care of it because we did everything under his merit.
Chevashore basically tells you that he suspects that you were to blame but Rose still has to take care of the problem because he designated you to be his go-between.
Janszen: Look I was just trying to calm him down. I don't know what he meant.
Stewart: How about when Steve Crevashore told you that Rose said, "Stevie I stopped betting when we were in New York on the last trip. He said I'm not betting any-I haven't bet in over 10 days. I said so who was betting this. So we thought it was you making..." You interrupt, "No, no." Him, "...betting everything under him." You still claim that all the bets were by Rose?
Janszen: Well, the big ones at least and ones on baseball.
Stewart: On May 13, 1987, "Val" told you that Rose could no longer bet with him because of his outstanding debt. Rose still insisted that you call to place a bet. "Val" refused. Here is what happened next according to the prosecution: "Rose became furious, and told Janszen that he would have been "up" had Val taken the action..." When Chevashore soon called asking for payment, Rose said, "Rose told Chevashore that Janszen was betting for himself in Rose's name and to seek payment from Janszen. Rose then turned to Janszen and told him not to worry, Chevashore was afraid of him. Thereafter, Janszen's mother received a threat on Janszen's life." Rose knew that you were betting in his name but said he would protect you. But he didn't, did he, Mr. Janszen? That made you angry.
Janszen: Look, I told you it was all business! I don't get angry-it's bad for business.
Stewart: Let's take a look at the first week of the season. Ron Peters says that Rose won $27,000 but you state that you only received $25,000. $2000 was yours and $23,000 was yours. Why the discrepancy?
Janszen: Look, I can only tell what I know. I know that I got $25,000 from Peters.
Stewart: But wasn't this recorded in your betting log for Rose? Let's discuss that log, Mr. Janszen. Let's see... Did you only record Rose's bets here or did you include your own?
Janszen: Uh, that was just for Pete's stuff since he had so many more than me.
Stewart: So since you were so diligent, where did you record your bets? Or did you only concern yourself with Rose's bets, given that you borrowed money to help him repay the bookies when he lost?
Janszen: I had a place, in the back of the book.
Stewart: So you could tell because it was in the back of the book. Did you ever make a mistake-make an entry in the wrong place? What about having the bets grouped by sport? Did you ever get one under the wrong heading?
Janszen: Nope, it was a great system.
Stewart: How about you girlfriend? She made entries too, the prosecution concedes this. Did she ever make a mistake?
Janszen: Nope, she's great like that.
Stewart: Clearly people of such high standards were meant for each other. Let's talk about the calls to the sports telephone line and to the bookies. My distinguished colleague on the prosecution uses these calls as proof of gambling and especially of gambling during baseball season. And yet there are many examples of days on which calls were made and yet according to your records no sports bets were placed. On April 23, 1987. On May 7, 1987, hmm...you called the infamous sports line 8 times. May 13, 16 times. May 14, four times. On May 26, 10. On May 28, 21 times. June 22, four times. But my favorite is May 30: 9 calls to Ron Peters, one to Mike Bertolini, 25 calls to the sports line, and I'm not sure how many between you and Rose. And yet according to you no bets were placed any of those days. It seems like calls were a separate entity from the betting.
Janszen: Well, most days weren't like that.
Stewart: Uh-huh, Mr. Janszen, you gave the court copies of "betting" slips that you received from Mr. Rose's home, correct?
Stewart: Where are the originals?
Janszen: You gotta ask the FBI about 'em.
Stewart: So no one here has seen the originals, right?
Janszen: They're just the same.
Stewart: Didn't your girlfriend, Danita Marcum, claim that the slips were legal-sized? Our copies are nothing near that size.
Janszen: She said legal size? She don't know about legal size. She don't know her ass from her elbow. Them's the same size as what I gave the FBI.
Stewart: I have one more question and then I'll let you go. Didn't you fail a polygraph for how you acquired the betting slips...
Dowd: Youw, Honow?
Walston [banging gavel]: Mr. Stewart!
Stewart: You failed when you claimed you saw Rose write his bets down in the notebook you claim was the source of the betting sheets. You failed when you claimed Rose placed major-league baseball bets in 1987 through you.
Walston: Mr. Stewart, one more word and I'll hold you in contempt! [to jury] You are to disregard that. Polygraph tests are inaccurate and inadmissible.
Mr. Stewart: That's all I have for this...[eyeing Janszen] "witness".
Gregory Peck: Your honor, we call Peter Edward Rose. [Shocked amazement permeates the room.]
[Pete Rose appears in #14 Reds uniform, runs to stand, slides headfirst to seated position, and begins rocking his batting helmet back and forth on his head.]
Peck: Pete, did you ever bet on baseball?
Rose: I did not, sir.
Peck: Did you ever bet on the Cincinnati Reds baseball team?
Rose: I did not, sir.
Peck: The defense rests your honor.
[Scene inside the courtroom a few hours later. The jury returns to present its verdict]
Walston: Have you reached a verdict?
Juror #1: We have your honor. In the case of Major League Baseball v. Peter Edward Rose, we find the defendant-
Walston: Wait a moment...[Zaps Rose with his finger. All that remains is a pile of dust. Two antennae appear behind Walston's head. A spaceship crashes through the ceiling piloted by Kang and Kodos from "The Simpsons".]
Walston [as he boards aircraft]: Foolish earthlings, while you were worrying about such trivialities we have invaded your planet and are set to take control.
[Kang and Kodos fighting over controls send the spaceship reeling directly for the camera as all scream. As the camera pulls back the earth is a smoldering waste. But high in the sky is an embryonic superbeing being tended by a motherly humming monolith. The super-embryo is chewing a wad of chaw, has a Moe Howard haircut, and is wearing a #14 jersey. Dissolve.]
Call Me Ishmael-Just Re-sign Me!
Call Me Ishmael-Just Re-sign Me!
The Mariners have declined options on both Edgar Martinez and Shigetoshi Hasegawa and have turned around and resigned both for 2003 for less money. Martinez goes from a $10 M salary for 2003 to one for $4 M plus $1M to buy out his old contract. Hasegawa had a $1.75 M deal and a $100K buyout, but his terms were not disclosed.
Both players were happy to take the cut in pay, further proof that the strictures of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are doing their beneficial work. Thank goodness, too! Without the proper restraints imposed on the system, poor mangement would be linked in some way with the financial well being of the team concerned. This way teams can run the team however they want without fear of not making huge profits.
In the next CBA the owners will re-open the reserve clause issue, and media pressure and fan support will force the players to accept a modified version of the time-honored tradition.
Neagle-ing Point Pitcher Denny Neagle
Pitcher Denny Neagle doesn't feel appreciated in Colorado and feels that 'it would be best for both parties if this marriage ended.'' Neagle was paid $7 M and was 8-11 witha 5.26 ERA while continually being underappreciated last year. He also turned down a trade twice to the Tigers. The Rockies have been shopping him around since before they signed him as a free agent two years ago, it seems.
He is set to make $9 M in 2003 and has $37.5 remaining over three years. How's that for appreciation, Denny?!?
Ode to Ted Sizemore Lest
Ode to Ted Sizemore
Lest you be led to believe that my comment regarding Ted Sizemore in my Rookie of the Year discussion was meant as a slight, I'll have you know that I have many found memories of his two years as the Phillies' second baseman in the mid-'70s.
The year was 1976. The Phils had been swept by the Big Red machine en route to a perfect Red October and their second straight World Championship. After the 1976 season, fan favorite Dave Cash left the team to sign as a free agent with Montreal. You have to understand that free agency was still new and it was viewed as something akin to desertion at the time. Not to mention that Montreal was still baseball's version of Siberia (unlike today). The fans had voted Cash into the starting lineup of Philadelphia-hosted Bicentennial All-Star game, his third straight (there were five Phils in total on the team though not Cy Young winner Steve Carlton). He was an exciting leadoff hitter, who had established the major-league record for at-bats in '75, and had led the league in at-bats and triples in 1976 and set the NL record for consecutive games at second base (443) while playing a slick second base (though looking back on his stats now, I can see that his game had begun to slip: 10 SB and 12 CS?). After the Phils finished with over 100 wins, first Dick Allen goes AWOL for the final weeks of the season and is soon jettisoned and then Cash abandons the faithful.
So what did the Phillies do? They quietly acquired a backup second baseman from the Dodgers, who happened to win the Rookie of the Year award seven years earlier, for expendable backup catcher and future manager Johnny Oates. It was so quiet that they merely assigned Oates' old number (6) to the new player. The player was Ted Sizemore and he quickly became a key part of the Phillies' 1977 pennant drive. He was a reliable and patient contact hitter (52 BB, 40 K) who batted second (Lou Brock credited his work in the #2 spot for enabling him to break the stolen base record with the Cardinals in 1974). There was a picture that I remember from Sports Illustrated that year in which Sizemore is yelling at the pitcher and pointing to home as if to say, "I dare you to pitch to me." It was great. It accompanied an article about the Phillies' starting to put together all the pieces during the 1977 season. The Phillies lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS that year due in part to a key error by Sizemore handling a relay on a Manny Mota double and then a fluke bad-bounce infield single in the ninth inning of game 3 with the teams tied one game each (remember that this was when League Championships were best-of-5).
Sizemore had a very poor injury-plagued season in 1978 (.523 OPS). And even though he had a stellar League Championship Series (.385 BA and .967 OPS), the Phillies again lost to the now-hated Dodgers. The Phillies revamped the team in 1979 to rectify the perceived problems. Pete Rose signed a mega-deal at the time (4 years at $800K per) to play, well, we already have Mike Schmidt at third, let's say first. Sizemore's poor offensive play and defensive lapses were seen as part of the problem. He was shipped to the Cubs, who in continued to operate as the Phillies West (even at the risk of employing Lee Elia as manager) well into the early '80s. The Phillies acquired gloveman and slap hitter Manny Trillo to replace Sizemore at second in the deal (along with pinch-hitter extraordinaire Greg Gross) for Greg Luzinski's caddy Jerry Martin, rookie and be-afroed catcher Barry Foote, and Sizemore. Trillo proved to be a major upgrade, offensively and defensively, and helped the Phillies win the Series in 1980 (he was the NLCS MVP). I still am awed by Trillo's quick-wristed throws to first.
So what have I been prattling on about you ask? My point is that Cash and Sizemore helped me, as a youngster, develop my Jungian archetypes for the second base position. Cash represented the slick-fielding, leadoff type player. Sizemore was the steady number 2 hitter. I have tried to evaluate almost every other second baseman that I have come across since according to that model. The reliables: Craig Counsell, Benji Gil, Adam Kennedy, Marlon Anderson, Todd Walker, Mark Grudzielanek, Luis Rivas, Mark Ellis, and D'Angelo Jimenez. The leadoff types are Ray Durham, Luis Castillo, Eric Young, Carlos Febles, Pokey Reese, and Jerry Hairston.
There is a third contingent that I was unaware of when I was a tike beause it was then so rare. These would be the second basemen who can bat in the heart of the order: Jeff Kent, Robbie Alomar, Craig Biggio, Bret Boone, Jose Vidro, Junior Spivey, Damion Easley (back in the day), Carlos Baerga (back in the day), and Mark Bellhorn (possibly). With the anemic offenses of the '60s and early '70s, the entire infield aside from first base became the bailiwick of defensive specialists. There were pioneers at each position who revamped their position into a power AND defensive one. Johnny Bench started it at catcher and it still hasn't caught on there completely. Mike Schmidt became the greatest third baseman of all-time with the power/defense combination. He revitalized the position and now it is seen as a run-producing spot. Cal Ripken did likewise 10 years later at short. The man responsible for the rebirth offensively at second was Lil Joe Morgan. People point next to Ryne Sandberg. All of these men are or will be in the Hall of Fame. But the person that was the linchpin between Morgan and Sandberg hardly even gets mentioned in Hall of Fame discussions. The person I am referring to is Bobby Grich.
Second base had always been a defensive position. Rogers Hornsby changed that a bit in the 1920s and Tony Lazzeri carried it into the thirties. There was a mini-revolution in the 1940s with players like Bobby Doerr, Vern Stephens, and Joe Gordon. Joe Morgan started as the leadoff, basestealing type, added power as he developed and became a rare breed of second baseman. Bobby Grich quickly succeeded Morgan and helped to make second a place to play for power-minded players. Grich was big for a second baseman (6'2") and hit 30 home runs and drove in 101 runs (with an adjusted OPS 44% better than league average) for the 1979 AL West champion Angels. Two years later, he outdid himself by tying for the league lead with 22 home runs in the strike-shortened season (and an adjusted OPS 64% better than average). Frank White was second among major-league second baseman with 9 (Morgan had 8).
Grich remained a power hitter for the rest of his career finishing with 224 home runs and an adjusted OPS 25% better than average. Ryne Sandberg succeeded him as the power-hitting second baseman, hitting 282 homers in his career and winning an MVP. Sandberg and to some degree Sweet Lou Whitaker became the fountainhead for the revolution at the position.
One day, I will have to post my argument for Bobby Grich as a Hall-of-Famer. Suffice it to say for now, that he was the linchpin in the revolution that created the Kents of today. One last note, the reason that Alfonso Soriano is so fascinating is that he can hit like a leadoff hitter and like a power hitter as a second baseman, something that only Joe Morgan ever did (with Robbie Alomar and Craig Biggio coming close) in the past. The question with Soriano is if he can play continue to play second base or will have to be moved to the outfield to cover his defensive weakness.
As Long as They Keep
As Long as They Keep Godzilla Away from MSG (So That We Do Not Get a Sequel to That Horrible Matthew Broderick Movie)
The Yankees while threatening to cut dental plans for office employees are reportedly set to sign Japanese import Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui to a monster (get it?) contract. The deal is purported to be in the neighborhood of 2 years at $12 M per. Matsui will occupy third base while the Yankees figure out if Drew Henson is their future there.
Meanwhile, free agent Robin Ventura with his 27 home runs, 93 runs batted in, and stellar defense, not to mention paltry (by Yankee standards) price tag of $8.5 M, is feverishly waiting by his phone to get his Yankee Stadium call-back. His agent already has stated that they accept that the deal would be negotiated with Henson's ascension in mind. Sorry, Robin. Oh, and about your dental plan...
Feeling Pedro-nized? Pedro Martinez, although
Pedro Martinez, although congratulating Barry Zito on edging him out in the Cy Young voting, is at the same time questioning the motives of the voters.
I am disappointed about all the excuses I have heard about why I didn't win. I had a great year. I would have liked it better if they just say they are giving it to him [Zito]. I would respect that then, instead of making all these excuses, making me look bad... You hear about all these excuses- he didn't make his last start, his number of wins, and so on. Doesn't it make you think a bit?
I do agree that Pedro's announcement that he wouldn't make his last start while the Red Sox were still theoretically in a pennant race hurt him with the voters. Quite frankly, it should have. Here's the scene: he had been growing fatigued throughout September and had just won his 20th game of the year with one start remaining, and that's when he chose to deliver this:
"This is it. I'm done. To ask for a little more would be greedy. I'm going to let (Josh) Hancock show what he has, to see if he can be of any help to us next year. I don't have anything else to prove."
The Red Sox were eliminated before his scheduled non-start, but Martinez for the second straight year had made an issue of not finishing out the year. I believe that he was correct in resting in the final start. Doing otherwise would have been nothing more than a blatant attempt to pad his stats-like Zito did on the last day of the season and it may have hurt the A's playoff hopes. However, his message was not delivered very diplomatically. It appeared that Pedro was putting his personal goals before the teams: "I've won my twenty. I don't care if the Sox make the playoffs." It just left a bad taste in the voters' mouths.
Besides, Pedro's telescoping innings pitched per start towards the end of the year, the probability of him and teammate Derek Lowe splitting their support, and just the fact that they were so close statistically didn't help him either.
But does Pedro's argument that he faced tougher teams hold water? Let's see. I compiled the trio's record against playoff caliber teams (basically anyway who was in a race in September). Zito faced Anaheim, Boston, the Yankees, San Francisco, and Seattle. Lowe faced Anaheim, Atlanta, LA, the Yankees, Oakland, and Seattle. Pedro faced Anaheim, Arizona, Atlanta, Minnesota, the Yankees, Oakland, and Seattle. Her is a comparison of their stats in those games:
ERA W L G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO Lowe 3.19 7 5 12 12 0 84.2 76 30 30 6 18 54 Martinez 2.14 7 4 13 13 2 92.1 69 30 22 6 21 109 Zito 3.96 8 4 14 14 1 86.1 82 40 38 8 35 64
Maybe Pedro has something there. His stats are far superior to the other two. He has a much lower ERA (even when you consider the 8 unearned runs), more innings, more complete games, and many more strikeouts.
Well, perhaps these stats were compiled in the early months when a playoff race was academic. What did each pitcher do down the stretch?
Zito ERA W L G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO Pre All-Star 3.49 11 3 19 19 0 121.1 104 48 47 17 40 108 Post All-Star 1.92 12 2 16 16 1 108 78 31 23 7 38 74 August 2.16 4 2 6 6 1 41.2 29 14 10 3 15 30 September 2.33 4 0 6 6 0 38.2 32 14 10 3 11 28
Lowe ERA W L G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO Pre All-Star 2.36 12 4 17 17 1 118 81 32 31 4 28 74 Post All-Star 2.83 9 4 15 15 0 101.2 85 33 32 8 20 53 August 2.66 4 1 6 6 0 40.2 35 13 12 3 8 19 September 3.97 3 2 5 5 0 34 33 15 15 4 5 20
Martinez ERA W L G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO Pre All-Star 2.72 11 2 18 18 1 115.2 88 42 35 9 23 141 Post All-Star 1.61 9 2 12 12 1 83.2 56 20 15 4 17 98 August 1.69 3 2 5 5 1 37.1 26 10 7 3 6 43 September 2.65 3 0 3 3 0 17 16 5 5 1 4 18
The first thing that pops out is that Lowe is just a peg below the other two. His ERA went up in the second half (though still 2.83) and ballooned in September. Martinez had a miniscule 1.61 ERA after the All-Star break, over 30 points below Zito. Zito does have 3 more wins and 25 innings, which are significant. It's very close.
I would give it to Martinez by virtue of his record against playoff teams. However, I don't think that you can fault Zito's record. I think close examine does convince me that this should have been a two-man race. Let's assume that the 7 people who voted for Lowe over Martinez and Zito for second were in error and redistribute their votes (also let's get rid of Washburn altogether):
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total Zito, Oak. 17 9 2 114 Martinez, Bos. 11 12 5 96 Lowe, Bos. 0 7 20 41 Washburn, Ana. 0 0 1 1
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total Zito, Oak. 17 11 0 118 Martinez, Bos. 11 17 0 106 Lowe, Bos. 0 0 28 28
That's pretty close. Perhaps Martinez's pitching his final game and getting one more win and another 6-7 innings would have been enough to sway the necessary (7) votes his way. We'll never know now, but Pedro's protestations may be an outward manifestation of his inward butt-kicking over not making that last start.
Claude I-Rain-ian? Here's a late
Here's a late entry for this year's Darwin Awards, non-fatal division:
Fake sorcerer is on the lam in Iran
Squirreling Away Stories I have
Squirreling Away Stories
I have found a second story about a squirrel terrorizing a small town. Why the interest in squirrels you ask? Well, once I was eating lunch with friends in college when out of nowhere a squirrel leapt at least a good thirty feet down on one of my friends' back. He was fine, but it was one of the freakiest things that I have ever witnessed (I've got to get out more).
Anyway, here's a little piece we like to call the "When Squirrels Attack":
Squirrel terrorizes English villagers
No Leos in Mets' Horoscope
No Leos in Mets' Horoscope
As I reported yesterday, the Mets had been trying to pry Atlanta Braves' nonpareil pitching coach Leo Mazzone in order to lure Tom Glavine to New York. Well, as soon as the Mets asked for permission to talk to Mazzone, the Braves re-signed the coach reportedly to the tune of a big salary bump.
There's no mention if it was due to the Mets' monkeying with the outfield fences as part of a Jeff Wilpon science project for school or if non-New Yorkers' endemic fear of Mr. Met and his endomorphic melon was the root cause.
Getting Rooked? Or Where Have
Getting Rooked? Or Where Have You Gone Teddy Sizemore?
This year's rookie class was a bumper crop, or rather a Bump Wills crop. (Forgive me.) Eric Hinske of Toronto and Jason Jennings of Colorado won, but there were a handful of good candidates in each league (Baltimore's Rodrigo Lugo and Jorge Julio, Minnesota's Bobby Kielty, Anaheim's John Lackey, Oakland's Mark Ellis, Toronto's Josh Phelps, Montreal's Brad Wilkerson, Cincinnati's Austin Kearns, LA's Kaz Ishii, Atlanta's Damian Moss, The Cub's Mark Prior, Pittsburgh's Josh Fogg, San Fran's Ryan Jensen, and St. Louis' Jason Simontacchi ).
My question is what happens to the anointed two now? Are they guaranteed eternal baseball bliss or will they Joe Charboneau out. Let's take stroll down memory lane to examine the fate of our young ballplayers.
First, let's start with Hinske. Position players hold up pretty well over time. Here is a comparison between a RoY (i.e., Rookie of the Year) in his award-winning year and over his career (through 2001):
G AB H R TB HR RBI BB SO HBP SF SB CS BA OBP SLUG OPS Hall All-Stars RoY Total 11808 43956 12659 6640 19790 1363 5884 4079 6718 360 326 1125 506 .288 .351 .450 .801 RoY Average 142 530 153 80 238 16 71 49 81 4 4 14 6 .288 .351 .450 .801 Career Total 122755 439683 122875 64715 194850 14914 60793 47798 62643 3116 3784 9154 4209 .279 .352 .443 .795 10 333 Career Average 1479 5297 1480 780 2348 180 732 576 755 38 46 110 51 .279 .352 .443 .795 5
The average RoY can enjoy a decent major-league career with almost the same ratios that he enjoyed in his award-winning year. 10 of 83 have made the made it into the Hall of Fame (with many others surely will follow: Piazza, McGwire, Ripken, Bagwell, Garciaparra, Jeter, Murray, and maybe even Dawson, Canseco, Pujols, and Rose). They have averaged 5 All-Star game appearances over their careers.
Now let's look at the pitchers:
G W L IP H ER BB SO ERA WHIP Hall All-Stars RoY Total 1078 363 209 4909 4093 1516 1871 3745 2.78 1.215 RoY Average 41 14 8 189 157 58 72 144 2.78 1.215 Career Total 8764 2348 1907 37534 34719 14550 13511 25712 3.49 1.285 1 52 Career Average 337 90 73 1444 1335 560 520 989 3.49 1.285 2
Well, they're certainly not as impressive as the position players. That's to be expected to a certain degree given the volatility of a pitcher's career, but a 90-73 record for an average Rookie of the Year? Their career ERAs are almost three-quarters of a run higher than their Rookie season's. They make on average only 2 All-star appearances over their career, and only one, Tom Terrific Seaver, has been voted into the Hall of Fame (and only Kerry Wood is even an outside chance of getting there). The Rookie of the Year pitcher epitomizes what has always been wrong with pitching coaches over the years. It is peopled by men with young arms that weren't allowed to grow old (Fidrych, Bahnsen, Gooden, and Score (he also had other issues). The average RoY pitcher is personified by John "The Count" Montefusco, who was 90-83 with a 3.54 ERA for his career.
So what does this tell us? If you are gambling on who will have a better career, Hinske or Jennings, go with Hinske any day and twice on Sundays.
Thome Ache The Phillies are
The Phillies are in the process of pitching some serious woo at Jim Thome. He has been called their number one priority for the off-season, him and a new Tivo in Larry Bowa's office to replace the three he smashed last year. The Phils cannot yet discuss money with the free agent (although rumor has it they will offer him a 6-year, $90 M contract), but they can wine and dine him, or more aptly Schmidt beer and cheesesteak him. And the Phillies brass pulled out all the stops.
The day started with a visit to the beautifully crumbling Veterans Stadium. Next up was a tour of the new Phillies stadium that is currently under construction and set to open in 2004. At the new stadium, Thome was quoted as saying, "Wait, weren't we just here?" Last, he visited the FUC, the First Union Center, to be feted to a standing-O by the Flyers fans, who even stopped pouring beer on the Devils fans while Thome was in the house.
As a Phillies fan, I am thrilled that they are courting a star of his caliber instead of dumping money on dreck like Terry Adams. That said, I am concerned that, being unaccustomed to courting a star, the Phillies' brass may be getting in over their heads. They are allegedly set to offer a 32-year-old first baseman a 6-year contract. Oh, did I mention that they are set to pay him $15 M per annum? It is highly unlikely that Thome will be worth $15 M in 6 years. At 38 years old, will he even still be a quality first baseman? Who knows?
Of course given the allure of Cleveland (I'm joking, don't you know), the Phillies may never even get a second date let alone consummate a $15 M marriage with Thome. The way that the Phillies have openly courted Thome, they may be setting themselves up for a big fall this postseason. It could ruin their 2003 season and their plans for the new stadium in 2004, and for the prom. The Phillies brass won't be able to take no for answer. They'll start to stalk Thome. The authorities will get involved. Restraining orders will be issued. It's an ugly story.
How Can a Zito Be
How Can a Zito Be a Hero?
In a relatively close race Barry Zito won the AL Cy Young today finishing in front of Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. Zito had the most wins so he was the obvious choice. Martinez had the best ERA of the three so he finished second.
But I just wanted to demonstrate just how close they were. Here are their Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement from Baseball Prospectus. Note that they finished top three in the AL (and were only behind Johnson and Schilling in the all of MLB):
This makes a case for Lowe being the best of the three. Three poor starts in August and September helped raise his ERA from 2.09 to 2.58 and helped seal his fate in the Cy Young vote.
Of course the Win Shares (thanks to David Pinto), point to Zito but may be suspect since they list Halladay, Guardado and Koch (3rd!) before the Red Sox:
Barry Zito 25.1
Also, keep in mind the highly suspect Jose "Uh-oh" Mesa is sandwiched between the two Boston starters and that John Smoltz is listed higher than any AL pitcher.
Oh, Shea Can You See?
Oh, Shea Can You See?
The Mets are changing the dimensions of Shea Stadium to bring in the walls to help the Mets' anemic batting. Jeff Wilpon, that proponent of nepotism, had this to say:
"Just because we say we're going to reconfigure doesn't only mean coming in. They could come in and go up." Wilpon said part of the thinking would be to add some "nooks and crannies" to Shea's symmetrical outfield... Teams have combined to average 8.1 runs at Shea this season, 26th among the 30 major league parks.
It all seems perfectly logical, right? Like the Indians moving their walls out to accommodate speedster Alex Cole (remember that?). My friend Mike sent me this information and here's my email back to him:
Actually, there is some rationale for this. The Mets were tied for 12th on the road in runs scored and 26th at home. But will changing the fields dimensions help?
To which he replied:
In an era when everyone seems to have a hitter-friendly clone of Camden Yards, I find it refreshing that we still have some 60s-era anachronisms like Shea Stadium and Dodger Stadium. Plus, there's no good reason for a ballpark located in a parking lot to have nooks and crannies in the outfield fence. At Fenway, where there are streets around the park, quirky dimensions make sense. At a place like Shea (or Arlington) it's just phony.
Evidently, Fred Wilpon needed a project to justify his son's presence on the team. It could be worse: he could have made Jeff GM. Speaking of which as Mike pointed out if they had better players, monkeying with the fences would not be needed.
By the way, the top part of the article is devoted to the Mets' attempt to lure Tom Glavine to New York by prying Leo Mazzone away from Atlanta. Moving the fences in may not be in line with this strategy however.
"And All Our Yesterdays Have
"And All Our Yesterdays Have Lighted Fools the Way to Dusty Death"
Dusty Baker's two weeks in limbo finally ended yesterday as the San Francisco Giants announced that he would not return to manage the team in 2003 just before his contract was set to expire. It comes as no surprise, but it leaves me wondering how it all got to this point. The relationship between the Giants and Baker has detriorated more as the team's success has grown apparently. As I'm sure you heard, "Baker became the first manager in nearly three decades to leave a team right after reaching the World Series."
So where does that leave Baker? The Mariners have reduced their list down to four finalists and, sorry, are not accepting new apllicants. Sure, when Jim Riggelman and Buddy Bell are clamouring for a job why go after the manager of the NL champs? For the record, Riggelman is 486-598 (.448 PCT) lifetime as a manger and has had only two winning seasons in seven tries (but one 3-game sweep of a wild card appearance). Bell guided the Rockies to a 6-16 start this year before getting bleeding demised and is 345-462 (.428). He has one winning season (82-80 in 2000) in five full.
The Cubs seem to be awaiting Baker with open arms. It is a step in the right direction for a team that has not had a decent manager since Leo Durocher three decades ago (Zimmer was OK in his time, too.).
But what if the Cubs end up passing on Baker? With the no minority hires in this off-season and a highly qualified candidate available, this would be a real blackeye for baseball. While clubs conduct their token interviews of the Willie Randolphs and Chris Chamblisses, they end up hiring re-hashed, demonstrably inferior (a .428 winning percentage!) candidates who just happen to be white. It seems that baseball has created a glass ceiling for minorities in the sport. But why worry? Baker will certainly be hired by the Cubs. With a reasonable percentage of minorities still in managerial positions baseball need not review its policies and all is white, er, right with the world.
But Isn't He a Royals
But Isn't He a Royals Fan?
This seems like a bomb dropped in the baseball community: the statistics people and the baseball people working together? To quote Bill Murray in reference to a coming apocalypse, "Dogs and cats sleeping together"? LIt's like George's two worlds colliding on Seinfeld.
But it may be a natural progression as the sport continues to embrace new ideas. Each team tries to get whatever edge it can. James is in a great position but also a highly scrutinized one: if he is not perceived as being helpful to the cause, that may spell the end of the experiment for future statheads.
Are Newly Austere Yankees To
Are Newly Austere Yankees To Be Left Pen-Less?
The Yankees tattered bullpen was dealt another blow yesterday. Steve Karsay suffered a herniated disk in his back while running on a treadmill and may require surgery. Karsay's back flared up in July but was easily cured by 5 day's rest.
The Yankees bullpen core of Karsay, Mike Stanton, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano Rivera that did the bulk of the relieving last year (no one else relieved more than 18 games) is mighty beleaguered. Stanton and Mendoza are free agents. Rivera, who himself missed a good portion of the season, has an option to come back but may opt for free agency as well. And now Karsay faces surgery.
Meanwhile, the Yankees off-season pitching action is all centered around the starters. They are pursuing former ace starting pitching and current project Mike Hampton, whose contract the Rockies would love to dump. They are considering not picking up starter Andy Pettite's $11.5 M option and instead are pursuing a trade for him. Do those two statements seem to be contradictory? Roger Clemens is a free agent who has expressed an interest in remaining in New York. Mike Mussina is signed at least through 2006, David Wells through 2003 (with an option for 2004), and Jeff Weaver through 2005. El Duque is signed through next year (I can't find his contract info though). Swingman Sterling Hitchcock has another year plus an option on his contract as well.
The Yankees have believed all of the negative press that their rotation received after a first-round loss in the playoffs. Their rotation was seen as old and outmatched. Now, New York seems to be acting on that premise. However, it should be pointed out that the Yankees starters were pressed into extended duty all year because of the short-staffed bullpen. The bullpen now lies in tatters and the Yankees continue to pursue starters without much mention of relief help. This spells another year of also-ran status in the Bronx, I fear.
How Sweet It Is To
How Sweet It Is To Be Led By Lou
In yesterday's Week in Quotes, amid some great quotes on the dung heap that is the Devil Rays, Lou Piniella is quoted as saying, "The reason for leaving Seattle was the family consideration, and certainly this job will take care of that. And honestly also, too, the challenge of doing basically what we did in Seattle 10 years ago. If my situation works out with Tampa Bay, we hope to do a likewise job. And I think things went pretty well in Seattle."
Well, things did go pretty well in Seattle over Piniella's tenure-a record of 840-711 for a winning percentage of .542. But a) is the Devil Rays situation similar and b) does that spell success for the D-Rays in the future? Let's answer the second question first: Who knows? Ask me again in ten years and I should be able to tell you. Until then, your guess is as good as mine.
But the first question, are the Devils Rays' situation in 2002 and the Mariners' situation in 1992 similar. Well, the D-Rays were 55-106, 48 games (!) behind the Yankees, last year while the M's were 64-98, 32 games behind Oakland, in 1992. That's 8.5 games better, but both teams were pretty poor. Let's look at personal. The D-Rays have some decent looking young players and former all-star Greg Vaughn who is well past his prime. The '92 M's had Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Bret Boone, Omar Vizquel, Tino Martinez, Kevin Mitchell, Erik Hanson, Jeff Nelson, Lance Parrish, and Harold Reynolds, all of whom were all-stars in their careers.
Indeed, the Mariners finished over .500 for the first time just the year before, something the Devil Rays have never come close to approaching. The Mariners record pre-Lou was 1084-1452, .427. The D-Rays non-Sweet years total to 318-490, .394. If you consider just the last five years before Piniella took the reigns in Seattle against the five years that Tampa Bay has existed, you get an ever bigger schism: M's 365-444, .451; D-Rays 318-490, .394.
So no, this is not the same as taking over a well-stocked Seattle team that had started to smell success but just had a momentary lapse. This is more like the situation Bobby Cox was in in 1982 when he took over the hapless Blue Jays in their sixth year (from ill-suited Roy Hartsfield). That team had a 270-482 (.359) record entering its sixth year. He got them over .500 in his second year. In his fourth they won the pennant with a 99-62 record. They lost the ALCS in 7 games to the Royals, who also won the World Series that year, and Cox soon went back to Atlanta. The Blue Jays won 4 more division championships and 2 World Championships before sinking below .500 in the strike year of 1994. Maybe that should be the model that the D-Rays try to emulate.
Pitching for the Cy-cle Randy
Pitching for the Cy-cle
Randy Johnson was the unanimous choice for the NL Cy Young award today, his fourth straight award and his fifth in total. His teammate Curt Schilling finished second for the second straight year.
First, I must say that I advocated the selection of Schilling in August (I believe), but given the strong finish by Johnson and the weak finish by Schilling, the writers made the right choice. I am surprised that it was unanimous, however. I am also nonplussed as to why anyone would vote for either Greg Gagne or John Smoltz for second, as 3 electors did, instead of Schilling. They should turn in the darts that they used to pick their choices and be banished from the voting until they stop believing their own articles.
A few other things occurred to me after I heard about the vote, to wit: a) How many times has a pitcher been the best in his league for four straight years? And b) How many times has a pitcher been second best for two straight years?
For the first question, you have to first define what you mean by "best". Is it wins? ERA? Cy Young voting? Most intentional walks to Barry Bonds. Well, I like Win Shares, so that's what I used. I found only four other instances of a pitcher being the best in his league for four straight years:
Walter Johnson, 1912-16 (and 1918) (5 straight years)
There have been three recently that have come close:
- Pedro Martinez, First: 1997, 1999-2000; Second: 1998 (by 4.10 WS)
Roger Clemens also deserves some credit. He never was the best for four straight years, but he was for three and two twice, which would win in poker: 1986-87, 1990-92. 1997-98.
As far as others who finished second two years straight, there were two recently:
- Derek Lowe, 1999-2000 (to Pedro Martinez)
Rally Monkey: The Movie, The
Rally Monkey: The Movie, The Next Adam Sandler Project?
A Hollywood producer has evidently fileda script treatment with the Writer's Guild of America under the title "Rally Monkey". The Angels and MLB are up in arms, and it all may end up in court.
And you thought the Winona Ryder trial was ridiculous?
Bart's Bequest? I Dowd It
Bart's Bequest? I Dowd It
John Dowd, special counsel to the commissioner and the investigator during the Pete Rose fiasco, wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times that my friend Mike sent to me yesterday. In the letter, he responds to the Dave Anderson piece that advocates baseball's absolution or at least exculpation of Rose.
Dowd is in great form showing that he hasn't lost his chops in the intervening 12+ years since his infamous Dowd Report on Rose first appeared. Indeed the letter is almost a reincarnation of the beatific Report, in microcosm.
First, he reports on his opinions of the motives behind the actions of two different commissioners (Giamatti and Selig) as if it were fact: "I am afraid Commissioner Bud Selig did it [let Rose appear at the World Series] because he can't stand being booed by the fans." & "[In referring to Giamatti] the commissioner left a legacy that might help your readers understand where he might have come out on this question.
Second, he remains the same condescending pedant when it comes to viewing the particulars of a given issue. He cites Giamatti's legacy as if it were his own private currency. Like in the report, he derives Giammatti's mountainous legacy from the molehill of one somewhat related instance, that of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Dowd says that Giamatti "turned down the posthumous petition from the South Carolina Legislature on behalf of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who unlike Pete Rose was honest about his conduct in a letter to Charles Comiskey."
This brings up my third point, Dowd consistently gets his facts wrong or at least bends them to fit his argument. Joe Jackson was banned from baseball because of Rule 21, but his infraction was against paragraph (a) of the rule:
a) MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL. Any player or person connected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.
That is, that Jackson and others threw baseball games, not that they gambled on baseball games or even had any involvement in gambling on baseball games.
Pete Rose never was accused of throwing any games. He was never even accused of betting against the Reds: "3) No evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds." (In the footnotes to Section II. Summary of Report from the Dowd Report) The Dowd Report promulgated that he bet on baseball and on (i.e, for) the Reds. However, the agreement that he signed avoided the issue: "Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game."
Therefore, his ban under Rule 21 can only be under paragraph (f):
(f) OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.
Basically that he admitted to consorting with seedy characters and felons (and as it turned out was a felon himself). Leo Durocher was banned for a year under the same sort of circumstances. Yet Dowd picked the Jackson analogy, which is a poor one but one that resonates with the average fan.
Besides the Jackson confession letter, if there was one, went missing at the first trial and has not been heard from again. Jackson denied his involvement in the original trial and then sued Commiskey in 1924 for back pay. How can Dowd that he was "honest about his conduct in a letter to Charles Comiskey"?
Dowd further conveys his inability to grasp Rule 21: "The wisdom of the rule is that when the participant places his own financial interest on the game, he corrupts baseball." Only paragraphs (b) and (d) have anything to do with the player's own financial interests. Paragraph (c) deals with gifts to umpires and (e) with violence in games.
Lastly, Dowd states that "No one in the history of baseball who has been declared permanently ineligible has ever been readmitted to the game." This is incorrect. George Steinbrenner was banned for life on July 30, 1990, for paying Howie Spira $40,000 to follow Dave Winfield and was later reinstated. Steve Howe was permanently banned from baseball on June 24, 1992, by Fay Vincent for an attempt to buy cocaine. In November he was re-instated by an arbitrator who ruled after Howe claimed that the cocaine helped with his Attention Deficit Disorder.
John Dowd does not understand the facts or the rules concerned, he misrepresents the truth, and he out and out lies. I'm glad that major league baseball associates itself with such people to try to rid itself of the bad element in the game.
Masticate with Marquis Players Here's
Masticate with Marquis Players
Here's an email that I received from MLB.com:
From: "Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association"
Billy Bawl John Routh, the
John Routh, the man who until recently answered to Billy Marlin, the Florida Marlins' mascot and pathetic excuse for a "punny" name, is now suing the Marlins over his dismissal and lack of severance. Billy was pulling down 80 G's as the aquatic nuisance. That's a lot of kelp.
Routh has gotten a lot of support from the mascot community. He had this to say while actually keeping a straight face:
"I've heard from all the other mascots around the leagues. The Phillie Phanatic called me first, then Raymond (of the Devil Rays) in Tampa. I got a call from the Pirate Parrot today and Lou Seal from San Francisco. It's all been very positive."
"Hello, Billy this is Mr. Seal. Yes, Lou that's right."
Watch for the TV movie of Billy's life starring Sally Field as the little firebrand who helped unionize the mascots so they can escape their sweatshop existence. And on that note...
Bernie Brewer: On the Next Sopranos
Bernie Brewer, Milwaukee's mascot, gets hot in the summertime. And all of that near-beer that he drinks can only do so much.
The Brewers had requested an air-conditioned pad for him to hand out with Greg Brady and his other friends in between dives into mugs of simulated beer. The money fell through until the union got involved. Expect Bernie to be livin' large entyertaining all of the female fans with thyroid problems (therefore, elaphantine heads) in his roost at Miller Puke, er, Park next year
Hey Guys, I'm Back! Sorry
Hey Guys, I'm Back!
Sorry that I did not post anything over the weekend. I was working on putting together my two cents on the Pete Rose situation for John Perricone's series at Only Baseball Matters. He has the first half up now. I just finished the second half last night and emailed it over to him, so it should be up later today or so. Please check it out. Siskel and Ebert give it one thumb up (you see, one of them is dead and can't give a thumbs up anymore). Rex Reed peed himself. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll kiss five bucks good bye (Hardware Wars).
By the way, I am starting a series of my own on Competitive Balance or Schizophrenia in Baseball later today. Look for it at a theater near you.
Chasing Rolen The Phillies' third-base
The Phillies' third-base prospect Chase Utley is currently tearing up the Arizona Fall League. The Phillies are reporting pursuing free agent third basemen David Bell and Edgardo Alfonzo, but given that Utley was their top draft pick in 2000 and he was skipped from Single-A to Triple-A last year they may be seen as more of a short-term solution. He showed good power in 2002 but batted only .263 and is still learning the position.
There is an outside chance that he may stick with the Phillies as their starting third baseman next year. Manager Larry Bowa will be touring the AFL in order to take a look at Utley. In the last two years trips by Bowa to check out Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd have help assure them trips to the majors.
The Phillies are now gearing up for the opening of the new stadium in 2004 and are starting to make personnel decisions accordingly. Utley star seems set to ascend by opening day 2004. For the first time in a millenium the Phils (reportedly) will be active in the free agent market (Terry Adams-like signings don't count). They seem to be the main competition for the Indians in the pursuit of Jim Thome's services. The have shown interest in almost all the big names in the market: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Thome, Bell, and Alfonzo. For the first time since Curt Schilling's departure the Phils are interested in fielding a grade-A starter.
As a fan of the Phils, I find all of this very encouraging after 20 years of near-comatose moribundity for the franchise. By the same token, it makes one wonder why it took the Phils so long to start opening their coffers given the potential revenues their population base could have afforded them over the years. Maybe that has been the problem all along: the Phillies management saw that there was a large enough steady, loyal fan base that probably would not have grown had the ownership actually invested in the team and would not shrink if they did not invest. So they have been Tribune-ing the club for all this time. Now that they have the potential for growth in the offing, they crack open their piggy banks and pursue actual talent at actual prices. It's somewhat disingenuous, but I'll take it.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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