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Joe Morgan Chat Day Trader
2003-08-04 00:34
by Mike Carminati

Trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions. Trade loves moderation, delights in compromise, and is most careful to avoid anger. It is patient, supple, and insinuating, only resorting to extreme measures in cases of absolute necessity. Trade makes men independent of one another and gives them a high idea of their personal importance: it leads them to want to manage their own affairs and teaches them to succeed therein. Hence it makes them inclined to liberty but disinclined to revolution.

- Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Being mostly an outsider to the vicissitudes of stock prices, it is my impression that for the alleged science, information, and methodology underpinning the stock market, perception is the tail that wags the dog. Like Billy Ray Valentine said in Trading Places, "They're panicking out there. It's Christmas and they're afraid they can't get their kids the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip and that their wives won't make love to 'em anymore. They're panicking. I can smell it" (or words to that effect).

Well, baseball is not much different from the market, especially at the trade deadline. Do you buy high on Jose Guillen? Or sell low on Robin Ventura? Or just trade Brandon Lyon for basically himself? Or do you just stand Pat (Gillick) and either be viewed as confident or incompetent?

Decisions, decisions...ah, pay me A-Rod's salary! Even A-Rod was on the trading block this go-around. But every GM thought that he did well in making a deal or in not making a deal. Only time will tell if teams bettered themselves for the stretch run or for the long-term or if they just acquired Enron right before the calls to Bush.

Of course, baseball too is not exempt from executive interference in such matters. The Yankees are required to restructure the Aaron Boone deal with the Reds, and they end up getting less than half the cash ($1.4 M instead of $3 M) and a few no-name prospects.

Meanwhile in Boston Theo Epstein is fleecing the Pirates in a variation on the old "Can I have change for a $20 bill?" Only he changed it to "Can I get change for an injured, failed closer?" Epstein hoodwinks the Bucs, who show their ignorance while still having Lloyd McClendon in their employ, by undoing the Scott Sauerbeck trade-basically he was free-and compounding matters by sending Jeff Suppan to the Sox for tarnished prospect Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is already 25, failed miserably in a callup earlier this year, and now GM Dave Littlefield says the Bucs will convert him to short. Oh, but at least Bud didn't steal a player under contract with a Japanese team or maneuver a trade via his personal player "laundering" establishment, the Expos (i.e., Millar and Floyd). So I guess he was being fair-handed in allowing the Sox to exact a Manhattan-sized hefty fee for beads from a division rival of his daughter's-allegedly-team.

Joe Morgan's analysis too is not unlike the stock market: it's based more on perception than results. Joe's last chat session is a great indicator of this. Joe offers his opinions as a one-time and forever Cincinnati Red, who has never met a rookie he liked or a veteran he didn't overvalue.

So without further ado, let's take the plunge into Joe's latest offering. He's so money, baby, but at least we know it:

The Good

Ah. Hmm...move along nothing to see here.

The Bad

James, Kennesaw: How long did it take for you to blend in to your new teams (youve been traded a few times, to the Reds, Astros, Phillies, and Giants.)

Technically I was only traded once to Cincinnati. Maybe I was twice. I only cared about going from the Astros to the Reds really It depends on the person being traded. Obviously I was traded in the same league so I didn't have any adjustments to new pitchers. I already knew many of the players on the Reds. Getting traded during the season is definately a tougher situation. You have 2 days to get your life together and start up again.

[Mike: For the record, Joe was "technically" traded twice:

- November 29, 1971, Morgan was traded along with Cesar Geronimo and Jack Billingham, two stalwarts of the Big Red Machine-to-be, by the Astros Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart. The trade is much-criticized in the Cincinnati press.

- December 14, 1982, Morgan is traded by the Giants with Al Holland to the Phillies for Mike Krukow, Mark Davis, and Charles Penigar.

Also, Joe signed as free agent a few times: January 31, 1980 with the Astros, February 9, 1981 with the Giants (re-signed December 11, 1981), and December 13, 1983 with the A's.

He was never traded during the season, and he did indeed play in the AL.

As for "I only cared about going from the Astros to the Reds really", the other time was of course to the "Wheeze Kid" Phillies, the same Phillies who met the O's in the series that season. As a lifetime Phils fan, thanks for memories, Joe, or at rather the destruction thereof.

Nick (Atl, GA): I felt the Braves did the right thing by not making a trade. I am fairly confident with the playoff rotation of Ortiz, Maddux, and Hampton. Putting Ramirez and Reynolds in the bullpen would strenghten it tremendously. However, an injury could change everything. Your thoughts?

The Braves bullpen is still suspect. You have to be able to get to Smoltz. Their bullpen could still use some help. They are built on offense with some pretty good pitching, But their rotation doesn't scare anyone like it used to. Their offense usually makes up for it. They still have to deal with that bullpen.

[Mike: "Some pretty good pitching"? Where? They are 15th in the majors in starters' ERA. They are 14th in relievers' ERA. They are 14th in road ERA. They are 14th in home ERA. They have one starter with an ERA under 4.30 (Russ Ortiz, 3.52) and one reliever with an ERA under 3.75 (John Smoltz, 0.78).

I don't know how far this team will go in the playoffs, but how the change in philosophy from pitching to offense has not affected any change in this team's win-loss record-except for the better-defies explanation. If anyone had told you this team would lose so much of its pitching from last year, that Maddux would have a 4.40 ERA, and that the biggest change on offense would be to acquire Robert Fick, would you have imagined that they would have the best record in baseball? They have to "deal with" the bullpen as well as four-quarters of the rotation and it has not mattered yet.]

Ed (Edison, NJ): How did you enjoy the HOF Ceremonies this year? Bob Uecker seemed to be on a roll?

I enjoyed the ceremonies immensly. It's a great weekend. I get to rub shoulders with some of the greatest players to play the game. It's just great to enjoy everyone's company.

Eucker is not only one of the funniest guys in the world, he is also one of the nicest. I used to work with him alot and we've become great friends. I had the honor of presenting his award which was great. I was just very proud that he joined us in the Hall. He is just as funny in person as what you see on TV.

[Mike: Yeah, Euclid is a personal friend of mine. The Elelments were highly influential on my understanding of Geometry. Thanks Euk!]

Brye (Colorado): Joe -- what is to be of the Expos? They've got the potential for a great young staff (Vazquez, Armas, Day, Vargas) and they've got three legitimate all-star calibre players (Vlad, Vidro, Cabrera). Will they be able to keep this team together with everything in such flux?

They won't be able to keep it together if it stays in Montreal. If the team is not sold, a lot of those guys will have to be let go. If they are sold, hopefully the new owner can keep them together for awhile and make a run at a championship. I agree with you, they are a great young team with a lot of potential. They could still make a run this year now that Vlad is back.

[Mike: No, if MLB let's them spend a few bucks or sells them to an owner who wants to keep them in Montreal, they would be OK. We're talking about a city of 3.5 million inhabitants. There are only 14 cities in MLB with a larger population.

That Bud Selig allowed the situation to decay to this point on his watch and that he continues to allow this farce of collective ownership of the franchise are some of the long-lasting effects of the Czar Bud regime even as he rides the meretricious labor negotiation shellacking of the players' union.

Back to the Expos, there is nothing that requires the team's stars to be sold off if the team itself doesn't find a legitimate owner. The only thing that causes such things to happen are the policies instituted by Bud and the owners. ]

Victor, Santo Domingo, DOminican Republic: Regarding Arod's statements where he said he would consider being traded, do you think he's been honest? What would it take for him to get traded and to which teams could he get traded to, whether is this offseason or in the coming years?

I think he was serious. I have gotten a chance to know him and he is a very open, honest person. If he said it, I believe it. It may not be as difficult to trade him as people think. He is still considered by many the best in the game. Texas could pick up some of the salary and would probably have to to get it done. They would want A LOT in return. Anything is possible, but not very probable.

[Mike: What do you mean "still considered by many the best in the game"? Oh, those 57 home runs last year did a lot to dissuade people. He is on track for 41 dingers and owns a .959 OPS this year, 45 points better than the next shortstop (Nomah, who is second in homers by a shortstop, 10 behind A-Rod). The only reason that he no longer is considered the best ballplayer today by the cognoscenti is that Barry Bonds has become a god over the last few season (and besides Bonds was being overlooked by the fourth estate before his historic run).

As far as where he could go, there are not too many places that could or at least would take a $25 M player. The Yankees are out of the running with New York institution Derek Jeter locked up in a long-term deal. Among other big-spenders, the Mets are committed to youth in Jose Reyes, but that has changed in Flushing before. The Dodgers are in desperate need of offensive help at short but are in the middle of a sale and probably can't take on A-Rod's salary. There are two other intriguing possibilities: he could return to Seattle, where Carlos Guillen has made slow progress to being just an average hitter, though the M's don't see prepared to take on his salary. Boston is another possibility with Nomar's contract ending next year. As for me, I would like the Phils to pick him up and drop the overrated Jimmy Rollins.

Basically, there are possibilities but the Rangers painted themselves into a corner with that deal. They would have to eat a lot of the contract and they would need a flotilla of talent in return. To A-Rod's credit, he has been as good a player, if not a better, since inking the deal.

For more tomfoolery on a potential A-Rod trade, check out this article by Ken Rosenthal, aptly dubbed a "hatchet job" by Clutch Hits. Rosenthal calls A-Rod "a liability rather than an asset" to the Rangers and "as manipulative as the player he modeled himself after, Cal Ripken. He's just not as smooth or smart, as evidenced by his choice of the sorry Rangers as a free agent." The Machiavellian A-Rod even "agreed to additional deferrals to facilitate the signing of -- ahem -- fellow Scott Boras client Chan Ho Park". The bastard!-helping his team sign a big-name free agent pitcher is all part of his nefarious scheme. Rosenthal ends the vitriol and the article by calling Rodriguez "the best player in the game". Wow, you could have fooled me.

To quote Archie Leach in A Fish Called Wanda, "You are a true vulgarian, aren't you?"

Rosenthal proceeds to illustrate that anyone can be traded after the Mike Hampton deal. True, but Rosenthal fails to recognize that the deal happened because Hampton was a complete and total bust. That was a given in the negotiations. A-Rod is far from a bust. The market may have changed in the last few years, but A-Rod has been and is the best shortstop in the game. This complicates things for the Rangers. How much is the best shortstop worth? $20 instead of $25? So how is overpaying A-Rod by $5 to $10 M damaging the Rangers?

Rosenthal never fully answers this. The Rangers are said to be losing money. Isn't everyone in baseball if you believe their numbers? Their attendance is down. Well, how is jettisoning their best and most well-known player going to help that? Not only that, Rosenthal advises them to package Mark Teixeira, one of their brightest young players (and one of the most difficult to figure out how to pronounce), in a kamikaze deal if owner Tom Hicks "is smart".

Well, Tom Hicks has already abundantly proven his lack of grey matter (e.g, the Park deal). But even he is not stupid enough to listen to Rosenthal.

OK, they have to rebuild their pitching staff. They recently traded Carl Everett, Ugueth Urbina, and Doug Glanville, and did get three pitchers in return (two as players to be named for Everett and one in the Urbina deal). They picked up as many outfielders however, so maybe they don't realize that their staff ERA is a hair under 6.00. Who says that they will be able to pick up a decent pitcher or two for A-Rod?

Actually, this seems to be Rodriguez's biggest sin in Rosenthal's book: he has the audacity to play for a team with a horrendous staff. If A-Rod were truly great, like Ruth, he would pitch as well. The lazy bastard! By the same theory Kevin Brown is to be blamed for not jacking a few more every time he pitches to aid his moribund offense. And the Phillies should manage the club to make up for Bowa's inabilities.]

Rico (Miami): Whats up Joe, Who is your pick to win the Super Bowl this year?

Only a baseball fan! I'm a Raider fan, though.

[Mike: Only a Raiders fan! I'm an Eagles fan, though. Only an Eagles fan! I'm a Rams fan, though. Only a Rams fan! I'm a Packers fan, though....

Super Bowl? In August? Suave, Rico.]

Matt (Detroit): With Boone going to New York, have they given up on Drew Henson?

According to what I have read, he hasn't given them any reason not to give up. They saw something in him to draft him. I think they still see that potential. I think they are trying to take some pressure off. But I'm a big Boone fan, so I think it's a good move by the Yankees.

[Mike: "I think they still see that potential." They see $14 M committed to him through 2006. That's the only pressure on Henson and they would be glad to take it off his shoulders.

Henson is by no means putting pressure on Ventura nee Boone for the job. Henson is batting .228 with 12 home runs, 25 walks, and 97 K's in 390 at-bats. He has a .275 on-base percentage and a .400 slugging average. BP says that's good for 5.8 runs above replacement level, not too encouraging.

By the time that Henson is ready for the majors, if ever, any number of changes could occur at the Yankee hot corner (Boone could be moved to second with the defensively challenged Soriano moved to the outfield). Chances are that the Yankees would be thrilled to deal with the problem of Henson playing his way onto their radar screen.]

CubbyNJ: Hey Joe, love your work on Sunday Night Baseball. My question is: with Prior coming back, and the Astros and Cardianls unable to acquire any pitchers before the deadline, are the Cubs now the favorite in the NL central. I cant imagine the Astros or Cardinals will be able top compete with Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Clement in September. Plus the Cubs have a very easy last 15 games of the season. Would do you think? Thanks Joe.

You can't say they are the favorite. I think they have a chance to put some distance between themselves and the other teams if those guys pitch well for a stretch. They could catch the Astros, yes, but the Astros are still a very good team. I wouldn't call the Cubs the favorites but they are in good shape.

[Mike: Favorites? They are just two games over .500 and three and one-half games back with two teams in their way. They have a chance but cannot solve third base (Ramirez has just a .501 OPS since coming over from Pittsburgh) and continually spring leaks (they just lost Grudzielanek and apparently Bobby Hill is the player-to-be-named-later in the Pittsburgh deal).

Anything is possible but the Cards and 'Stros seemed more concerned about each other than the Cubbies. Their Mexican standoff at the deadline while the Cubs were frantically making deals is telling.]

Anthony, San Francisco: Hey Joe, people always say if Ruth played now he would be much better than he was because of the small ballparks, juiced balls,etc. Don't u think if Bonds played when Ruth did he would be alot better than he is now. He wouldn't face as many pithers, there would be no left handed specialists out of the pen, fewer teams,etc. Nobody ever brings it up!! Thanks Joe.

My answer is Babe Ruth would be Babe Ruth today. Barry Bonds would be Barry Bonds anytime. If you are a great player, you are always a great player. Stats would be different, so all those great players, their numbers would be enhanced today. But that's not to take anything away from Bonds. Bonds is the best player of his era. But stats are a little distorted these days. But there is not doubt in my mind, Ruth would have hit 70 in today's game.

[Mike: Ruth would be better than Bonds if he played today, but he would smell godawful.

Look this was investigated by the eminent William S. Preston, esq., and Ted Theodore Logan of Bill and Ted fame in their dissertation on time travel's effect on performance in sporting events.

These sorts of arguments remind me of a conversation I had with a roommate in college as to whether Bruce Lee, using only his bare hands, or Reggie Jackson , who could use his bat, would win a fight to the death (he was convinced that Jackson would win).

By the way, "[A]ll those great players, their numbers would be enhanced today"? As opposed to 1930 when the major-league batting average was .296, 31 points higher than today, and the average OPS (.790) was 32 points higher than today. Pure old-croneyism. When does Joe use stats comparatively except to put down players today?

Also, Joe says Ruth would hit 70 today. So does he still think that Bonds would own the record?]

Javi,Greenvile SC: Good morning Joe, what are your thoughts about expos permanately playing in Puerto Rico next year?

It's a difficult question. The first question has to be can they support a Major League team. The average income per household may not allow them to support the team. It's a question I can't answer. I'm not sure what all the economics are. They would want to support the team, but could they?

[Mike: Actually, I would be more concerned with the stadium. Estadio Hiram Bithorn was expanded (and renamed to Hiran Bithorn Stadium) to accommodate major-league baseball, but it still only holds about twenty thousand.

As I showed last year, Puerto Rico has the population base to support a team (2.5 M) and the territory rights to the Caribbean would be muy macho.]

The Ugly

Dennis (NY, NY): How does Cincy fix the PR disaster they have created? They just moved into a publicly funded park, had some nice young players, and dismantled the team after saying they wouldn't? Nice way to build on a new stadium! As a Yankee fan, thanks..

It's the biggest disaster I have seen since the Florida Marlins incident. They just up and got rid of all their players. At least they had won a championship. I have no idea what the Reds are doing. In my opinion, it's a joke to build a new stadium with public money and then decide the fans aren't important anymore. That's what they are doing in my opinion. Anyone that can trade Guillen for what they got in return, shows you there is no concern for the fans.

[Mike: How do they fix the PR disaster? By fixing the roster disaster they have created over the years. They have no pitching and lost their superstar (again) to injuries. They are fifth in the worst division in the NL if not all of baseball. No matter what ownership told players and promulgated in a full-page ad in the Cincy papers, this year is over, Johnny, new stadium or no. It's time to build for next year.

The first step was to fire the GM and the manger. Good, it was about time. Next, they had four outfielders going into next year: Griffey, Dunn, and Kearns. Guillen did not fit into their long-term plans nor should he since he is having a career year aided by the new ballpark. This is still the same player that couldn't cut it on the D-Rays two years ago and on the Bucs two years before that. They got a potential top-to-middle of the rotation starter plus a couple of young arms for a player who groused his way through a career year. The got a previously untouchable young starter from the Yankees for Boone, and there are no untouchable youngsters on the Yankees. That's not bad for a player that had demanded a trade because the Reds fired his bloviating daddy.

These are not the Florida Marlins circa 1997. They are more like the Marlins circa 1993, i.e., the inaugural year. What they are doing is at least following a plan to again approach respectability. How is that " decid[ing] the fans aren't important anymore"?]

Jordan (Boston): Joe, I'm wondering about the Red Sox. Are the moves they've made enough to finally put them ahead of the Yanks? It seems to me that the Yankees didn't really fix their one weakness - the pen.

All the moves that all the teams made, all of them feel (other than the Reds) they have improved for the stretch run. But no one really knows if that guy will perform under pressure. You don't know if he will thrive in his new environment. A lot of times guys that are playing well on losing teams, can't step up right away when they are supposed to win. Guys may look good on paper, but they have to play the game on the field.

[Mike: The last I checked, the division winner is still based on wins and losses and the Yankees lead by 3.5 games by these criteria.

The Yankees did improve their bullpen, not as much as the Sox, but then again the Sox had farther to go in their rebuilding process. The Sox failed to shore up their rotation, a more glaring weakness than the Yanks' pen. The Yankees, however, did open a hole in right field. The fact that Juan Rivera has not been recalled to fill it speaks volumes. Oh, and Boone is an upgrade over Ventura, but his numbers were greatly aided by the new Cincy ballpark and he will have some struggles in the Bronx. Anyone hear of Jeff Cirillo? Well, maybe not that many struggles.

Joe, by the way, what are you going on about? Baseball Trading 101? Of course everyone thinks they have improved. Now you are the analyst: analyze! At least answer the question.

I do have to admit that is a great Phil Rizzuto impersonation though.]

Jason: Marlow, OK: How are small market teams, Kansas City, supposed to compete with the larger market teams, Yankees, when the can go out and get multiple big name players?

A lot of it is not just about big and small market. It's also about your farm system. In most cases, teams that traded the big name guys got minor league guys. If you have a good system, you can trade to get what you want. Obviously you need money to pay the big guys, but you have to have good minor league players to get them in the first place.

[Mike: Oh, OK, I get it. So trading "minor league guys" for "big name guys" is how small-market teams remain competitive. That's why the Yankees traded Clausen for Boone. Wait a minute, the Yankees are a large-market team. Now, I'm confused.

Maybe building a good farm system is the basis for developing good, cheap ballplayers. You can then trade those prospects for established players (like the A's trading three youngsters for Guillen) or promote them and reap the benefits yourself.

So what you really are saying is that a deep farm system is a cost-effective means to develop and/or acquire talent. Maybe there's a bit more of a gamble because those players are not yet established, but because of the reduced price tag and because of the short shelf life of a player, sometimes going with an inexperienced player is the logical move.

Joe is on the record saying this. Keep that in mind...]

AJ - Houston, TX: Joe, Jeff Nelson has been very outspoken concerning his and his teammates' disappointment in Mariner management for not improving their team for the stretch run and the post-season. Do you feel that just as players have a responsibility to the organization to play their hardest, the organization has a reciprocal responsibility to the players to make that extra push at the trading deadline?

Well, I think both sides have a responsibility to the fans. The fans are the ones paying to watch the games. Then you have a responsiblity to each other. This is supposed to be like a family. That is what you are trying to build. Being closer to your teammates makes you want to play harder. You don't always have to have the chemistry that everyone talks about, but you have to respect each other. If Nelson felt that his teammates that he has are not good enough to win, that's a slap in the face when they 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. But it's hard to judge what Nelson said and what is going on in Seattle. I haven't done one of their games in awhile.

[Mike: OK, Joe's a hardliner who thinks that ballplayers should not air the club's dirty laundry, no matter how ill-advised their strategy is. We've heard this already.

Nelson is correct to believe that "his teammates...are not good enough to win". They clearly demonstrated it last year. It's by no means "a slap in the face". If anything it's an intervention.

That's enough of that. May I direct you to a comment in the above text: "Oakland acquired Guillen but that shouldn't change what Seattle is doing. That's not an earth-shattering move."

Now compare that to this: "It's the biggest disaster I have seen since the Florida Marlins incident." Oh, he's just referring to the Reds, not the A's. Well if these moves weren't so "earth-shattering" because of the difference in talent going to the Reds and the talent going to the Reds then why is it such a big "disaster"? It's a closed system. Joe says the Reds bleed talent. Some one must have benefited from that. Who else but the Yankees and A's?

So if the A's rooked the Reds that badly, shouldn't the Mariners be afraid that the A's improved themselves that much? You can't have it both ways, Joe. It can't be a disaster for the Reds of epic proportions and there be no teams benefiting from it.

Oh, and one last thing, nice copout at the end: "But it's hard to judge what Nelson said and what is going on in Seattle. I haven't done one of their games in awhile." Cover all those bases, Joe. Don't go out on that thin ice. You don't want to actually analyze anything.]

Mike Heath, Akron, OH: Will the Reds continue their fire sale by trading Jr. Griffey in the off- season? Will their be any takers?

My feeling, just a personal feeling, is that they need to sever that relationship for Griffey and for the Reds. It just has not worked. Sometimes you just need a change. The Reds need a change from Griffey and Griffey definately needs a change from the Reds. They need to sever that relationship.

Yes, there will be a lot of takers. The reason is that it seems with the Reds all you have to do is say "I want him" and they will figure out a way to get him to you.

[Mike: What?!? The Reds rid themselves of two players having career years and potentially better themselves by acquiring highly touted young pitchers, their number-one need, and it's as apocalyptic as Robert Duvall smelling napalm in the morning.

But if they discard arguably the best player they have had on the roster since the Big Red Machine days at a time when his value is at its lowest point, and you are just being circumspect realizing "Sometimes you just need a change." Ah, let's sing Kum-By-Yah. What indications are there that Junior needs a change of venue? He was playing well this year until he was injured...two times. It's always injuries. Is Morgan implying that Griffey is injuring himself because he is so maladjusted to the Reds ways?]

Josh Stafford, VA: What is your opinion about the Orioles future now after trading Ponson for Ainsworth and Moss? Also, what's your opinion on them as being big players in this years free agent market?

I have no idea what they feel about free agency. As for Ponson, Ainsworth is supposed to be one of the top young playrs in the game. Moss pitched well early in the season. I don't know much about the third guy. I can't criticize that move at this point. According to reports, Ponson turned down their offer of a contract extension which means he was probably going into free agency. So it's hard to criticize that deal. They may have been forced to make that trade. The Reds were not forced to make their deals.

[Mike: "As for Ponson, the Reds made some sucky deals"-non-sequitur much?

The Reds were not forced? You mean that Aaron Boone did not demand a trade after his manager-daddy was fired by the Reds earlier in the week? Oh, I just imagined that.

Oh, and Guillen did not grouse all year when all three regular outfielders were healthy and his playing time was reduced? Guillen was signed to a one-year deal, but he was not in the same boat as Ponson (a free agent at the end of the year). Of course, now it's so simple.

One last thing, keep in mind that Joe evaluates the deal based on the potential of the pitchers acquired...]

Terence, Cincinnati, OH: Joe, was Jim Bowden the problem in Cincinnati or is it the people that are still running the organization?

I don't think Bowden made the trades yesterday! Again, I'm looking from afar but some of the things Bowden did were just bad luck. There is not one GM in baseball that wouldn't have made the deal to get Griffey when Bowden did. He was the best player in the game at the time. It was just bad luck. For me to say it was his fault would not be fair.

[Mike: You're right, Joe. Bowden didn't make the trades yesterday. That's why they made sense.

Was it bad luck when Bowden said that the players should just have Don Fehr fly a plane into a building instead of going on strike last year? Would you let a man, who said such things and who is tasked with dealing with the press as one of his duties, handle your multi-million-dollar investment?

As far as Griffey is concerned, he had started to decline his last two years in Seattle. He was still a great player and was under thirty, but it's not as if he was at his peak. The injuries have been bad luck, but not everything is attributable to luck.]

Aaron - Cincinnati, OH: It seems to me that The Reds are getting a lot more heat from the media than they deserve. They traded two guys that were going to be free agents, a shakey closer, and one good player. They had to trade Boone to get quality in return. While I don't know all of the guys they got, nut shouldn't the media be patient enough to see if their going to make a run at a free agent pitcher in the offseason before blasting them.

My opinion has always been, if you trade major league talent, you have to get major league talent in return. What they do know is trade major league talent for potential major league talent. That bothers me. Guillen has always been a good player. Boone is a good player. They did get something potentially good for Boone. But no, I don't think the media and fans should be patient. You have to take things at face value and things don't look good right now.

[Mike: From Chris DeRosa:

"Guillen has always been a good player."
-- Joe Morgan
"Give me nine men like Guillen, and we won't lose another f'ing game, Mr. Rickey."
-- Leo Durocher
"There has been one batsman who has been particularly hard on my hurling, and that is Mr. Jose Guillen, of the Red legs."
-- Walter Johnson
"This town just wasn't big enough for him... good luck in another World Series, Jose!"
-- The Pittsburgh Courier
"After those games in Havana, the papers called him the Latino Clipper. Maybe they should have called DiMaggio the Italian Guillen."
-- John Holway
"See, Mr. Guillen? I'm all grown up now, and, and... I can walk! I... I just wanted to say thanks, Jose!"
-- Johnny Sylvester

"I said, 'who is that?' an the fellow next to me said, 'Why, that's Jose Guillen!' Guillen wasn't in St. Louis! He was here!"
-- Tommy Leach to Lawrence Ritter

"No, I'm telling you, he never pointed! If he'd pointed, Clemens would have knocked him right on his ass!"
-- Jorge Posada
"We want you on our side!"
-- Les Brown Orchestra
"... and to Jose Guillen--it is an honor to share this stage with you, dude."
--Alex Rodriguez Hall of Fame induction speech, 2021

Now, hasn't Joe just said that competing is "also about your farm system"? He justified the Posnon deal by saying that the Giants got "one of the top young playrs [sic] in the game."

Well, the Reds don't have a farm system thanks in large part to the "unlucky" Jim Bowden. So what did they do? They traded for a few prime starters almost ready for the majors. Voila, they have a farm system. And all it cost them were two career-year players, one of whom had demanded a trade and the other who didn't fit into their long-range plans anyway.]

Tim Singler, St. Louis, MO: The trading deadline was yesturday and everyone in St. Louis was expecting Walt to work his magic another year. How come they did not do anything? are they seeing something we don't? They need pitching!!

According to what I've read. he has an $83 million payroll and couldn't add anything. That's probaby the reason he didn't make any trades. I'm sure he wanted to. He just couldn't bring on any more salary. What happens in a pennant race, in order to improve, you have to take on my salary.

[Mike: You have to take on Joe's salary to improve? Joe's now resorting to extortion? What will things come to next?

Besides why didn't Jocketty trade So Taguchi and his $2 M contract? I guess that's what happens when you make bad moves, they're hard to unload. Whether it's $7.5 M to Tino Martinez or $3.3 M to Brett Tomko. They'll bite you in the ass every time. It's a good thing that St. Louis is the best baseball town in the world. Otherwise they would notice such things.

By the way, I know he meant "more" salary, but the Yankees actually shed Mondesi's $13 M (minus the $2 M the had to give the D-Backs) and traded Ventura's $5 M contract for Boone's $3.7 M.]

Rocky (Newark): Hey Joe! I love your work. As a Yankee fan, I am concerned that they feel a need to have a superstar at every position--of course, the Yankees that won championships in recent years had great role players, not necessarily superstars. Does this year's team have enough "role players" on the bench and in the bullpen? Thanks.

Make no mistake about it, if you can get a superstar at every position, you are going to win. The Yankees were able to get role players that helped with the whole team concept. They weren't just a slugging team. Torre doesn't like to depend on the HR. He wants to do lots of things. He isn't looking for a superstar to hit HRs. But you can get superstars that do other things. Yes, I think they have enough role players because they also have enough solid guys like Giambi in the lineup. Then you add Soriano, Boone, Posada .. they have enough to win.

[Mike: Wow, I have got to try whatever you are on, Joe.

You win with superstars, but the Yankees win with role players, like Giambi, Soriano, and Posada. Or are they superstars that "do other things" besides hit home runs. Giambi has been second, fourth, and seventh in dingers in the AL over the last three years. He's tied for first in homers this year. How about that role player the Giants have by the name of Bonds.

Of course, you don't win with a lineup of Rob Deers. But Rob Deer was never a superstar. It's not like you achieve "superstardom" by hitting only home runs. Being a well-balanced player makes a star, super or otherwise.

By the way, the idea that the Yankees won with role players is hogwash. They had a good young team with players like Jeter, Williams, and Rivera who could one day be Hall of Famers and established stars who should be Hall of Famers soon like Clemens, Boggs, and Raines during their dynastic run. They weren't all Shane Spencer and Luis Sojo.]

Dan (Washington DC): Do you think baseball can survive competitively for the long run without changing the system to reflect something more along the lines of the NFL? Big fan of yours keep up the good work.

The system has already been changed. You will not see the super big deals anymore (Vlad Guerrero will be the last). One thing about the NFL, you are talking about parity I guess, but it's also very boring. You have to have something to shoot for. A team that everyone is trying to knock off. That is the nature of sports. The old Celtics, the Packers, the Yankees. That is part of the mystique of the game. The question is, how did the Yankees win all those championships before free agency? There is more to it than free agency.

My point is, I don't like parity. I don't want 30 teams with .500 records.

[Mike: What?!? This is like listening to two members of Howard Stern's whack pack discussing literature.

It's nice to see Joe allude to the Super Player motif from last week: "super big deals". I got one of them super big deals from this here MacDonald's down the street. Well, doggy, they was good!

Joe is all over the map here. He jumped from parity to contracts to dynasties to free agency. By the way, there is more parity in baseball then football, if for no other reason than you play 16 games in football and 162 in baseball. There were 4 teams with winning percentages no better than .250 in the NFL last year. That would be historically bad in baseball.

I guess his point is that free agency killed parity in the sport, thereby making it more difficult for a dynasty like the pre-free agency Yankees had. But doesn't he realize that free agency was one of the great equalizing factors? He lived through it for heaven's sake. The Yankees could stockpile talent in the minors and eventually use another major-league team (the KC A's) as a weigh station for talent back in the day.

Oh, but it's about more than just free agency. It's about your farm system. But don't trade players from that farm system to Joe's favorite team since it would be "a disaster". It's also about a change of scene, and super players, and "Norman coordinate..."

(By the way, the Bagwell and Brock pictures are references to two of the worst trades of all-time.)]

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