[From a classic July 5, 2002, Joe Morgan chat session-classic in the ESPN sense, meaning old.]
On the First Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
John Ashley (Aledo, Tx): Do Tom Hicks and John Hart have it in them to pull the trigger on a deal that involves Pudge? As much as I would hate to see him leave... they need to get something for him.
Joe Morgan: I don't think they have that control now. He's a 10-and-5 player. Pudge has to decide if he gets traded or not. The Rangers are in a bad situation. They say they don't want to spend money, but he deserves a lot. So he may not be there after this year.
[Mike: I didn't have anywhere to put this one and no Dave Concepcion quotes-but it was too good to pass up-so...This looks like a quote from a different era given the trouble Pudge is having getting signed. Teams are just afraid of all the injuries. The Rangers and Pudge were both in a bad spot though they didn't know it. They should have worked something out or traded him to a team that would have worked a deal with him, a la Mark McGwire and the Cardinals in 1997. Pudge based on his stats alone does deserve the money-he is still one of the best catchers in baseball-, but with all the missed time and the market today, he'll never get it. Just for the record, Morgan is partially right: Rodriguez could veto a trade as a 10-and-5 player, but of course, he couldn't initiate a trade, something that the Rangers couldn't or wouldn't do. ]
On the Second Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Cory (Vancouver, WA): Mr. Morgan, let me first start by saying, I have the highest level of respect for you and your knowledge of the game. I was a huge fan of the"big red machine" in the 70's. However, I feel as if your respect for Ichiro is very low. I have watched you do games on Sunday night Baseball, and sometimes it appears you try and down play his game/speed. I enjoy the Seattle team, but they are not my favorite. I must say, with the game's best players, I even try to find somebody better in every aspect then Ichiro, and I just cant do it. The kid is just flat amasing to watch. I'm curious about your feelings on Ichiro both for "pros" and "cons" of his game. tks for your time
Joe Morgan: I guess you are not listening. I have always respected Ichiro. He knows how to play the game, has a great arm, hits his way on base and is a smart player. That said, I don't think he was the MVP last year. I thought he was the most fun to watch, but Bret Boone was the MVP. He drove in the runs and made the biggest difference. I love watching Ichiro play. He may be the most exciting player in the game. I like that. But I would bet you the Mariners would trade Ichiro for Vlad Guerrero, A-Rod and a few others. He may be the most exciting, but he's not the best player. If that means I'm downplaying him, then I am.
[Mike: Classic Joe: equal parts brilliance and idiocy. Joe's right about Ichiro but wrong about Boone. The 2001 AL MVP should have gone to Jason Gimabi. He had it dead to rights and got robbed. Use any means that you want to-Win Shares, Adjusted OPS, etc-Giambi is the man. And he resurrected a team that was dead at the beginning of the year. I never understood how people could argue for Tejada in 2002 and against Giambi in 2001. They were similar except Giambi had a measurably superior year.]
Jared Ward: First off , I'm a huge fan, Mr. Morgan, and keep up the great work in the booth. Secondly, I want to know your opinion on whether you think the Bartolo Colon trade was wise of Indians GM Mark Shapiro.
Joe Morgan: I don't know all the details, but I wouldn't traded a No. 1 starter like Colon. I would have traded others if I were in a cost-cutting mode. There were other players with high salaries who were not performing. You don't trade a No. 1 starter, and that is what Colon has become.
[Mike: The Indians were in third place, seven games out of first after an 11-1 start. They felt that they could not compete, and did not think that Colon and his salary figured in their future. They at least traded him for prospects, and by all accounts good ones (two are at least: Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee, both of whom made it to the majors in 2002). They may have jumped the gun on the season. They may have jettisoned a young staff leader. But at least they have a plan and they stuck to it unlike the second-half failures this past season who did nothing to better themselves (e.g., Red Sox and Mariners). As Tony Soprano said, more is lost by indecision than a bad decision.]
On the Third Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Brandon, NC: Joe, Do you think that Don Baylor is on his way out of Chicago?
Joe Morgan: There is definitely a segment in Chicago that believes he should be fired. Others think it's not his fault because of injuries, lack of performance, etc. He is on the hot seat, but I can't say if he'll be fired or not. He is definitely being scrutinized closely.
[Mike: Keep reading...]
andy(chicago): did you hear about don baylor? he just got fired!!!
Joe Morgan: I was just informed before you asked the question. I always felt Don was a good manager, but good managers get fired also. The Cubs have been a group of underachievers this year, and the manager, I guess, has to take the blame. Bruce Kimm was named as the interim manager; that should make Whitey Herzog happy. The Cubs are short in a lot of ways. They don't get any production from third, short or second, with DeShields. Alou wasn't hitting. Corey Patterson wants to be a slugger instead of doing what Baylor asked him to do. It looks like they have talent. But without any production from a number of positions, where is it coming from? Sosa is it. They don't have as much talent as people think. They have Sosa, McGriff (who is doing better now) and Alou. If two of the three aren't producing, how do you win? Managers make a lot of money now, so they have to take the fall.
[Mike: Why is Baylor a good manager? He has a losing record. He never did much with a pretty good Colorado team. The Cubs turned themselves around in 2001 and nearly made the playoffs. They fell apart in 2002 with arguably a better team. He's considered a good manager for the windfall in 2001. So why doesn't he bear the brunt when they suck in 2002? In 2002, the Cubs had three players with over 25 HRs and a .500 slugging average (Sosa, McGriff, and Bellhorn). Moises Alou had a very off year, but he was better in 2002 than his incumbent Rondell White was with the Yanks. Hundley improved, but Girardi was still overused. Mueller was an improvement over Coomer, the third baseman in 2001. Gonzalez, the 2002 SS, and Guitierez, the 2001 SS, were sort of a wash. The same goes for 2001 CF Gary Matthews Jr. and 2002 CF Corey Patterson (though Patterson's lack of attention to the strike zone-142 strikeouts and only 19 walks-was alarming). The rotation was greatly improved but still young. Alfonseca tanked as the closer but it didn't affect Baylor's term greatly (he was 11 of 14 save opportunities in the first half with a 2.61 ERA; 8 of 14 5.45 in the second half). Baylor did take the fall for a team that failed as a team, and rightly so.]
Jon (Chicago): If you may not have already heard, Don Baylor was just fired. Who do you think the Cubs should bring in for the job? I'm hearing Felipe Alou's named tossed around do you think but could that really happen?
Joe Morgan: We know better now. But I think Alou is one of the best managers in baseball, even though he is not managing. He would be a great choice for anyone.
[Mike: All the press to the contrary notwithstanding, Felipe Alou did a bad job in Montreal. The Expos were basically a doormat his last four years there. He did lead the team to some good years at first (1992-'94). But his inability to get them to be the least bit competitive for most of his tenure has to be weighed against him, especially since the Expos improved slightly after he was fired in 2001 and greatly in 2002.]
On the Fourth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Rob (NYC): What do you think of La Russa moving Albert Pujols into left field? From the little I've seen, Pujols looks like he could be a gold-glove caliber third baseman in time. Is Polanco really that valuable (.305 OBP) that you don't develop Pujols as an infielder? Maybe I'm missing something. Thanks.
Joe Morgan: Pujols would be best at one position. By that I mean, put him at third and leave him, or put him in left and leave him. LaRussa may think it helps the team, though. I agree he could be a good third baseman, but again, neither of us are there everyday. I'm sure LaRussa has a good reason for what he does.
[Mike: Joe, make a decision already. In the immortal words of John Blutarsky, "I don't cost nothin'." Of course, Pujols is more valuable as a third baseman, and all indications are that he would have been a capable one. LaRussa fell in love with Polanco's versatility, and for some reason felt the need to move his best player to a new position to get him into the lineup. Of course it's all academic now that the Cards traded Polanco (and others) to the Phils for Scott Rolen and Pujols is officially an outfielder. But all Cardinal fans should thank their lucky stars that LaRussa's latest favorite toy (Polanco) was taken away from him.
LaRussa's good reason is that he's a pompous ass. He is a good, slightly anachronistic manager, and the Cards did well to minimize their exposure due to his eccentricities.]
Marty (Atlanta): Joe, how good do you think the Braves really are this year? I think this may be the best team they've had in years, perhaps since 1993. Do you agree?
Joe Morgan: I agree they are very good. The fact they have Sheffield to support Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones helps a lot. Their lack of power hurt their offense before. But now they have power. Their bullpen is unbelievable, even though the starters aren't as good as they have been. I don't know if they are better, but they are capable of winning the whole thing.
[Mike: Anybody could win the whole thing, but are they a better team? Sheffield was a slight improvement over Brian Jordan, the 2001 right fielder. As far as power is concerned, the hit fewer in 2002 (174 to 164), but finished 8th instead of 10th in league as they did in 2001. Their slugging percentage also improved from 12th to 9th. However, holes at first, second, and third base were never filled or were filled by obviously inadequate players. And Javy Lopez is really starting to show his age. The pitching staff was much better in 2002. Glavine, Maddux, and especially Millwood improved. Moss came into his own. It was a wash between 2002 fifth starter Jason Marquis and the 2001 version, Odalis Perez. As Joe points out, the Braves' bullpen in 2002 was incredible. The Braves were a better team in 2002, but they improved mostly in the places that were already strengths and ignored weaknesses. As usual, those weaknesses came back to bite them in the playoffs.]
On the Fifth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Joe R. (Syr.): Hi Joe What was your reaction to losing out on the Rookie of the Year award in '65? I'm trying to figure out how you could possibly have finished behind Jim Lefebvre, who while a fine 2nd baseman and underrated manager, clearly had inferior stats. You scored 100 runs!! The only possible advantage I can see is that his team went on the World Series while the Colt .45s (love that name) finished back, back, back in ninth. Your thoughts?
Joe Morgan: First of all, I didn't understand how I lost either. To be a rookie and score 100 runs on a ninth-place team is pretty special, and it's still one of the highlights of my career, in terms of one season. But the Dodgers have always had better PR than anyone else. They have had more Rookies of the Year than anyone. It was more what the Dodgers did publicity-wise than what the Astros did. That's the only thing I can think of, anyway.
[Joe Mike: Yes, he was arguably better than Lefebvre. But Lefebvre had those juicy RBIs on a front runner, all things that writers love. For the record, Joe's OPS was 30% better than the adjusted league average while Lefebvre was only 6% better. Morgan led in Win Shares too, 30 to 23. The PR remark does sound like sour grapes though.]
Pud (Cleveland): Do you think that John McDonald taking out Derek Jeter was a cheap shot, or an accident?
Joe Morgan: It was more of an accident. It was a double-play situation, but it wasn't a DP ground ball. The runner is going there to break up a double play. That's how I got hurt in my career, on a very similar play with Tommie Agee slid into me and tore up my knee. On the replay, though, it wasn't a cheap shot. He was on the ground the whole way.
[Mike: "Pud"? Really? More power to you, my brother. Anyway, "Enough about me. Let me tell you a little more about myself." I didn't see the play (or at least don't remember it), but just because a runner stays down doesn't mean it was OK. If he slides a few feet to the outside of the bag to take out the relay man, the runner should be called out. Period. They should start calling the actual play at second instead of allowing the relay man to purposely miss the bag to avoid injury and the runner to purposely miss the bag to induce injury. Here's the rule:
7.09 (g) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner. (h) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a batter runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball, with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead; the umpire shall call the batter runner out for interference and shall also call out the runner who had advanced closest to the home plate regardless where the double play might have been possible. In no event shall bases be run because of such interference.
The (h) part is interesting. I hadn't heard of that version of the rule, i.e., that it could cost a run. It's so rare that The Rules and Lore of Baseball doesn't even have an actual example.]
On the Sixth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Matt Durand (Winchendon,MA): Hi Joe. My question is, Do you think the Red Sox will be able to acquire a power hitting first baseman such as Jim Thome and or a quality third starter such as a Jeff Weaver before the trading deadline?
Joe Morgan: That's asking a lot of one team. I thought that Thome was the guy they were pursuing. He would make the most impact. But Weaver is a good pitcher. Thome is the guy they need at first base. Ideally, they would take both -- but that's a lot.
[Mike: Joe, the question was can they get those players, not gee, wouldn't it be nice if they did. As it turned out the Sox got no one and crashed-and-burned in the second half, right on schedule.]
Julian (Allentown PA.): I don't think any Yankee could win MVP because they are all putting up some big numbers especially Soriano and Giambi. But who is the Yankee MVP so far?
Joe Morgan: You have the two of them. Flip a coin. Soriano carried them at the beginning, and Giambi is doing it now. I think Giambi could win, and so could Soriano. Because Giambi hits third, though, I think he has a better chance. He is in a run-producing spot, hitting third.
[Mike: Joe, the question was who is the Yankees MVP so far. Just pick one. Go ahead make a choice. It won't hurt.]
On the Seventh Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Doug (Columbus): Hey Joe, big fan. I remember reading your column last year about how the all-star game isn't as good anymore due to its lack of competition. Why is it that the players aren't competitive in the All-Star Game? Would they rather just have the three days off?
Joe Morgan: I believe part of it started when they made it an exhibition, with all the skill games the day before. The players have picked up on that. The players used to just come and play the game and win it for their league. Now it's an exhibition.
[Mike: Grinchie Joe, maybe the All-Star game, perhaps, means a little bit more. It's always been an exhibition. You were just one of the combatants when the leagues still had strong identities and therefore took the game seriously. Free agency, elimination of the league offices, interleague play, increased player salaries, and probably a half dozen things I haven't thought of have changed the tone of the game. Who cares if it's not your father's All-Star game? It's still a great game (though elimination of interleague play would make it greater.]
David(Geneva,NY): Who is the Favorite to win the Home run derby and which league has the advantage to win the all star game?
Joe Morgan: I think someone from the National League will win. Based on last year's results, I think Giambi will be a favorite. I think Shawn Green has a chance. I think Sosa is the guy to beat, though. Sosa enjoys it the most and has the most fun with it. Then I would say Bonds, Green and Giambi have a good shot. As for the game, I think the NL has a few more established stars than the AL. It depends on how the managers manage. Will they manage it as an exhibition or a game? The winning of the game has become inconsequential.
[Mike: Dr. Evil Joe was right, it was so inconsequential that no one even won. Aside from that, Joe, you've got to slap people down for asking ridiculous questions like who'll win the Home Run Derby. Who cares!?! Go put your Mr. Spock ears back on David from Geneva, NY. You geek. Oh, sorry to ruin the holiday spirit. God bless us everyone.]
Joe Morgan (in closing): Let's hope the All-Star Game is played the way it should be -- that it will be competitive. And let's hope that the stars will shine in the game as they should.
[Mike: They did. It was a great game. Lots of excitement. All that people remember is the tie score.]
On the Eighth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 8 Tony Clarks A-Whiffing 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
John (London): Is Kansas city going to going to be able to hang onto Sweeney? Why haven't we heard about teams looking to trade for him soon? He would be a welcome bat at first base on many contending teams
Joe Morgan: Sweeney is an excellent hitter. I just don't see a lot of teams going after him; he makes a lot of money. I don't know which team he would fit well with. I think Boston needs a left-handed complement to Manny and Nomar. Tony Clark would have been a perfect fit, but he hasn't produced.
[Mike: Sweeney made $8 M in 2002. He has five years at $11 M left. It rises to $12.5 M if he is traded. That is a bit of change in today's market, but Sweeney is a heck of a hitter. He would have fit in well with the Sox. Just a note on Tony Clark, Clark had been a slightly better than average first baseman for a few years and had missed a great deal of time in the previous two seasons, but even though everyone (including Joe) touted Boston's acquisition of him as a great windfall, he was horrendous in 2002. Should the Sox have foreseen this? Well he was turning 30 and had missed a great deal of time, but that complete a downfall was a bit unexpected. That said, Boston couldn't have anticipated great things for very long with Clark. He had to be seen as a stop-gap measure. That they had no one to fall back on besides Brian Daubach and Jose Offerman (Yeck!) and refused to get anyone was not exactly to their credit.]
On the Ninth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 9 Statements Contradicting 8 Tony Clarks A-Whiffing 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Joe Morgan (in closing): That's all the time I have for now. That Ichiro question bothers me. I've always talked about how great and smart he is. It's easier to score runs than to drive in runs. He scored runs last year, and Boone produced more than he did last year.
[Mike: OK, Boone should have won the 2001 AL MVP because he produced more, but Lefebrve shouldn't have won the 1965 NL ROY even though he out-produced Morgan. Morgan had a piddly 40 RBI in 1965. I know that it doesn't mean a damn thing, but by the same token neither does Boone's out-producing Ichiro.]
On the Tenth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 10 Vlads A-Erring 9 Statements Contradicting 8 Tony Clarks A-Whiffing 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Bosey (New Jersey): Hey Joe! Who would you rather have on your team, A-Rod or Vlad Guerrero?
Joe Morgan: Very good question. Personally, I may take A-Rod because of the position he plays. It's easier to find an outfielder who drives in 100 runs than a shortstop like A-Rod. That said, though, Vlad is arguably the best player in the game. There are more outfielders who do what Vlad does than shortstops who do what A-Rod does.
[Mike: No shortstop ever has done what A-Rod has done so far. It's still early in his career, but just that he has a chance to be the best ever is amazing. Guerrero is a great player, but he does have a few chinks in the armor. First, he commits a good 10 to 20 errors a year. Stupid errors. Lapses in concentration. Yes, he has the ability to make those plays, but he doesn't. He also has a very low stolen base success rate (63% for his career, a career high of 69%, and two seasons under 50%) for someone who steals a good bit of bases. Those may just be lapses as well. He may be able to overcome these weakness, but he hasn't yet.]
On the Eleventh Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 11 Ichiros Itching 10 Vlads A-Erring 9 Statements Contradicting 8 Tony Clarks A-Whiffing 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Joe Morgan (closing): That's all the time I have for now. That Ichiro question bothers me. I've always talked about how great and smart he is. It's easier to score runs than to drive in runs. He scored runs last year, and Boone produced more than he did last year.
[Mike: Joe gets a burr under his saddle, and it really irks him. He takes an offhanded comment after the chatter has thoroughly kissed his bee-hind and before he simply asks Morgan's opinion of Ichiro's "pros and cons" and turns it into a personal attack. I love the guy.]
On the Twelfth Joe Morgan Chat Day of Christmas, Joe Morgan Gave To Us 12 Months of Class (I'll give him a break-it's the holidays) 11 Ichiros Itching 10 Vlads A-Erring 9 Statements Contradicting 8 Tony Clarks A-Whiffing 7 All-Star Games A-Exhibitioning 6 Questions Evading Gee Wasn't I Great? 4 Indecisive Statements 3 Felipe Alous 2 Double Takes And Dave Concepcion in the Hall of Fame
Cliff (Jackson,Ms.): Hey Joe, why do you think Rick Riley was out of line with Sosa? Wasn't he just calling his hand? The fans, as supporters of the game, have a right to know if someone is cheating, don't you think?
Joe Morgan: What Reilly did was a cheap shot. Who appointed him the drug czar of this country? What you, as a fan, deserve to know is basically that this is still a free country. You are innocent until proven guilty. If you ask Sosa to take a drug test when the union has said no to testing, you are out of line. Everybody realizes that Reilly was out of line because he put himself in a win-win situation and put Sosa in a no-win situation. If Sosa says yes, then Reilly is a hero to the world. Since Sosa says no, he can write something about Sosa. It was an Enquirer style of interviewing. The players do not deserve that. It makes it very difficult for us to interview the players because they will be fearful of the media's motives. Reilly is not Bud Selig or Donald Fehr. Those are the only two people who should ask Sosa, if they wanted to do that. If Sosa would have taken the test, then every other player would have been angry at him because the union has not sanctioned drug tests. Reilly was doing it for Reilly, to make himself look good, and that's why he was out of line.
[Mike: Right on the money.]
Mike(Boca Raton): Joe why is Torre the bad man for not putting Thome in the all star game. He had his third chance to get in when we had the 30th man voting. It's not Torees fault someone evey year gets left out thats just part of the all star game.
Joe Morgan: People are looking at Torre because he took five shortstops. That hurts other positions. It takes chances away from other players who deserve to be there. If you think all five shortstops deserve to be there over Thome, then we have a difference of opinion.
[Mike: Joe is still classy even when dealing with incoherent, slavering freaks. By the way, Joe's right. Derek Jeter got his ticket punched but not Jime Thome? C'mon?!?]
Dex (Boston): Is there realistically a chance that an agreement will be reached between the players and management to head off a player strike in August? Also, what is the chance that any kind of steroid testing will be adopted?
Joe Morgan: There is a realistic chance for both. I think part of the agreement will have some sort of drug testing.
[Mike: If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs...Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son! Good call, Joe.]
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all and talk to you again next week."
Happy (Belated) Holidays from Mike's Baseball Rants!