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Joe Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
2003-08-07 01:30
by Mike Carminati

Something's wrong with Joe Morgan. I think he's been hiding the meds that Nurse Ratched gives him under his tongue instead of swallowing them. It's almost time for Chief Will Sampson to grab that industrial sized sink and toss it through the window.

Witness Joe's latest offering is about the pennant races. He has always hated going out on a limb by actually analyzing something, a tough row to how for any analyst. He qualifies his statements to the point that he almost contradicts his original statement-that is, unless he is saying something disparaging about a current player, discussing the Big Red Machine, or bemoaning the death of small-to-the-point of-myopia ball. Basically, Joe's schizophrenic and so is Joe.

But Joe outdoes himself here. At the risk of robbing his chat day review to pay Paul, or cliches to that effect, I have to throw out some choice cuts from the article:

First, besides his analysis of the races closely resembling a cursor perusal of the standings in the morning paper (or more precisely someone else's morning paper as you read it over their shoulder on the subway), Joe picks a wild card except he doesn't:

The NL wild-card race is wide open, but I give a slight edge to Florida. I believe the Marlins have the best overall personnel. While that doesn't mean they'll win, they do have an edge in talent.

OK, they have an edge in talent. Is it enough to make up two games on the Phils and fend of the rest of the takers? Are you not sure? Maybe you forget the rest of the teams in the NL and just wanted to plug the only player this side of 1980 that you seem to like, Dontrelle Willis?

Regarding the AL West race in general and the M's specifically, Joe said in last week's chat session:

[T]hey have been playing well and have a lead. Oakland acquired Guillen but that shouldn't change what Seattle is doing. That's not an earth-shattering move. Seattle still has a very good team. They are hard to critique from afar. I just watch them play and they look good. They are just coming back to the pack in the last couple weeks.

Now, here's what he says in the article today:

In the AL West, the Oakland Athletics are only four games behind the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners don't look like the same team they were two months ago.

So what changed? The chat session question was in response to Jeff Nelson's diatribe regarding Seattle's lack of change, i.e., their inability to acquire a player at the trade deadline. When Joe "chatted" the above, the A's trailed the M's by four games (Seattle 66-42, Oakland 62-46). When he wrote the article, the A's still trailed by 4 as both teams won three and lost one since Friday morning.

Apparently, the only thing that changed was Joe's mind. Look, I happen to agree with him, and Nelson was gagged via a trade after suggesting that Stand Pat Gillick and the Mariner brass blinked at the trade deadline instead of trading one or two of their pitching prospects for a bat. However, if he forms an opinion and nothing changes, he should stick by that opinion. Or at least justify the opinion change. Or at least acknowledge the change. But in Joe's world his opinion is and always has been whatever it is at the current moment. If you suggest otherwise, you are merely putting words in his mouth-his own words disavowed though they may be.

Next, he attacks and praises the A's staff at the same time:

The starters are certainly good, although they haven't been as dominant as they were last year.

Barry Zito has a losing record (8-9, 3.30 ERA). Rookie Rich Harden is now in the mix, which is great for the A's, but he's only made four starts so we'll have to wait and see if he's capable of sustaining his success (3-0, 1.33). Mark Mulder has been consistent (15-7, 2.92) and Tim Hudson (9-4, 2.60) has pitched well...

The Mariners have lots of good hitters and they score runs, but their pitching staff obviously is not as strong as Oakland's (but neither is anyone else's). However, I think Seattle's bullpen is better than Oakland's.

The Big Three are all in the top six in the AL in ERA. Last year they were third (Zito), sixth (Hudson), and tenth (Mulder) in the AL in ERA. The only "problem" is that Zito has a losing record, but when you consider his ERA is better than Roy Halladay's (16-3) and Jamie Moyer's (15-5) you realize that wins are more of a team stat that a pitcher has very little direct effect upon, that is, unless you're Joe. Oh, and nice rookie bashing with Harden. The kid's been amazing, and yet while fellow rookie Dontrelle Willis is called "dominant" earlier in the article by Joe, Harden, perhaps the most anticipated rookie pitcher since Mark Prior, is suspect.

So OK, I disagree with his analysis of the A's rotation, but he's entitled to his opinion. But Joe isn't satisfied with one: he has to go back for second helpings. He slips in parenthetically that the A's staff is the best in baseball. Then he opines that the M's pen is better-a wholly defensible position given that Seattle's relievers are 13 point better in ERA (3.46 to 3.59) and are getting Kaz Sasaki back. I prefer the depth of the A's pen to the M's, but they are both very good (in the top eight in relief ERA in baseball) so let's not quibble.

So to sum up the starters are not as dominant and the relievers are outclassed by at least the M's. How then can the A's staff be the best in baseball? To quote David St. Hubbins, "Check me on this: Am I losing my f'ing mind?"

Next, Joe dives into the fallacy of World Series experience:

In the AL East, the race between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is a toss-up -- except that the Red Sox don't have the history of winning that the Yankees do....

But Schoeneweis and Alomar have played in the World Series, which is a big edge.

Then there's this gem:

Kansas City is the only team that resembles last year's Angels.

So resembling the Angels is good and World Series experience is good, but the Angels had hardly any playoff experiece last year and a) it hardly mattered then and b) if they are the new paradigm, how does World Series experience enter into the equation? He talks about veteran teams at the end, the Angels last year were greatly aided by a pitcher who had 5.2 innings of major league experience when the playoffs started.

Finally, Joe overvalues the impact a manager can make on a pennant race:

Managers will have a major impact on the outcome of the pennant races.

Then he concludes this final section with this:

Each of these managers has done a fantastic job, which will be key down the stretch.

So, how does anyone have an edge?

Oh, "Sometimes young guys in a playoff push for the the [sic] first time try to do too much." You see, they forget and sometimes submit two lineup cards.

It all makes sense now. Chief, where's that pillow?

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