Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
Knowledge is power.—Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
—Francis "Macon" Bacon, the godfather of British Empiricism.
Also, Schoolhouse Rocky.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words.
—Old Testament, Proverbs xvii. 27
He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
—Old Testament, Ecclesiastes i. 18.
Lisa Simpson: So, dad, are you ready to spread knowledge and enlighten minds?
Dancin' Homer Simpson [Confused. Patronizes]: That's right, honey. Daddy's a teacher.
I get it now: Joe Morgan is a teacher and we are his flock. It's all so simple. After a chat session, that's why we're all flocked up. Joe is here to tell us the error of our ways. Why, we have been led astray by these Svengali sabermetrcians. Wins ARE the best way to evaluate a pitcher. The Triple Crown stats—batting average, homers, and RBIs—ARE the only ways to evaluate a batter.
The scales are falling away. I can see clearly now; the rain is gone. I can see most of the obstacles in my way, at least.
Joe is, at heart, an empiricist. All knowledge comes from experience, his experience that is. Joe eschews facts especially when they disagree with what he sees with his own two eyes. "Of course the earth is flat and the sun travels around the earth. Open your eyes, rube." Welcome to the church of Joe. Come in and testify, my brother.
So in the words of the words of the head honcho…"Let there be light: and there was light." Or more to the point…
Moderator: Ok folks, away we go!
John, Orlando: Joe.. In Yankee stadium, the distance on the walls is written in white (except the 408 in center). Is there a reason for this.. So Batters seeing the ball better? Or did they just feel like painting it black?
Yep, 408 is in black as not to distract the hitters.
[Mike: Yeah, they took Mick Jagger's advice.]
Ryan (Boston): Joe, are you expecting a raucous atmosphere at Fenway on Saturday? If so, do you think it will affect the game?
WEll I expect an excited crowd -- I don't expect them to do anything out of the ordinary. Both teams are used to that kind of atmosphere now in the post-season. Of course it is a factor, but with these two teams, it's minor at this point.
[Mike: Oh, man. No on could have anticipated the events of game three.]
pat mcguigan (Scranton, PA): what do you think will blow up first, boston's starting pitching or yankee middle relief?
I think starting pitching comes to the forefront in the playoffs b/c the deeper you get into the game the easier it is for your closers to get out. I think the Yankees' starting pitching has been the most consistant, it's certainly has the edge over Boston's but with Pedro coming up, anything can happen.
[Mike: Yes, Mariano Rivera was very awkward socially. It's great to see him get out and socialize during the playoffs.
In typical Joe fashion, he expresses no opinion and all opinions at once. How 'bout Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer? They blowd up real good.]
Don, Philly: I thought that perhaps the Yankees should have gone with Clemens in Game 2 and Pettite in games 3 and a potential Game 7. Do you agree with the decision Torre made?
I thought Pettite should have pitched game 1 since he has won more games ... but Torre obviously had his reason for doing so. I think Pettitte is definitely their best big game pitcher. I agree with Roger in Game 3.
[Mike: Don Philly? Are you related to Dave Philly?
Really Torre didn't make a decision. He set a rotation in the Twins series and stuck to it. The only change was to hold off on Wells after the rainout. There's probably something to be said for sticking to a set rotation.
The Yankees have odd home-road splits for ERA: Mussina, 3.04 home and 3.81 road (OK); Pettitte, 3.78 and 4.24; Clemens 5.22 and 2.53 (huh?); Wells, 4.89 and 3.36. Part of me says that I would avoid using Clemens and Wells at home, and part of me is saying, "Is that really significant or just luck?" I'm inclined to think that Torre knows his staff well enough to know if Clemens has some sort of problem pitching in Yankee Stadium.
But, no, Don, I would not have gone with Clemens game 2 since it shuffles your rotation and given that maybe the home-road splits have some meaning. At least Don put some though into it. Joe just would shuffle his staff by regular-season victories even though clearly Mussina had a better year than Pettitte.
For the record, Clemens is 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in six World Series starts. Pettitte is 4-1 with a 5.08 ERA in eight World Series starts. Who would you rather have? Of course, Joe would point out that Pettitte has more wins.]
Simon (Clifton, NJ): Pedro or Rocket. Who would you want pitching game 3 for you?
If I was in Boston it would be Pedro, if I was a Yankee it would be Roger.
[Mike: Typically Joe evasive indecisiveness. How about, who would you rather have your back in a dark alley, Martinez or Zimmer? Roger Clemens is the best pitcher of his generation. Martinez is great but fragile, physically and mentally, and he's a coward. I pick Clemens.]
Kyle Krapf Chicago, Illinois: Joe, I think Mark Prior is the most dominant pitcher in baseball. At the age of 23, don't you think that his mechanics and make-up are something I should be excited about for a long time?
I don't know him personally, and mechaics -- we'll have to wait and see how they hold up ... I know that Mark Prior has won all these games in a row ... but let's not forget about Kerry Wood -- he is pretty special, too. I believe he is just as good. The Cubs are very lucky to have these two guys.
[Mike: No, but Joe is prepared to go on record to say that Dontrelle "D-Railed" Willis will be a special pitcher for a long time.
Jacky W. (Rancho Cucamonga): All his abilities and accomplishments considered, Bonds may be as good as it gets for sometime AND he is still not viewed as "greater" than Ruth. With that in mind, can ANYBODY EVER supplant Ruth as "the greatest" in the eyes of the public/media?
I don't think so Jacky. Babe Ruth started the revolution that brought baseball to the forefront of Americana. It was more than just baseball with this guy, it was his persona, his talent, his iconicism. I don't think anybody will ever be able to supplant that image that people held of him -- he was larger than life.
[Mike: Jacky, first, go Quakes!
Second, Babe Ruth is to baseball what the Beatles are to rock music. He was in the right place at the right time but he performed amazingly given the opportunity. In 1920 Ruth hit an unheard-of 54 home runs. No other team in the AL had as many home runs as Ruth and only one NL club (the Phils) had more than he did (64).
That is unthinkable today. When Bonds hit 73, the lowest total in the NL was Montreal at 131 and Tampa Bay, 121, in the AL.
Besides Ruth was a very good young, left-handed pitcher. He was great in two World Series (3-0 with an 0.87 ERA). His numbers look better today than they should given that he pitched in the deadball era (94-46 and 2.28 ERA), but a Hall-of-Fame pitching career was definitely within his reach.
Bonds is the greatest ballplayer that I ever saw, but it is impossible to be another Ruth. And not because of his "iconicism" (not a word) or "iconoclasm" or "epicurism" or whatever Joe is trying to say, but because the nature of the game today.]
Glen(Mahwah NJ): Andy Pettitte has come up with big win after big win for the Yankees. Do you think George will be smart and resign him? Rumor has it Texas will try and lure him back to his home state with big money.
Well, I know there will be a lot of teams who want Pettite when he becomes a free agent after the season. I can't say what George will or won't do -- who knows. But i'm sure a lot of teams will want Andy -- not just Texas.
[Mike: They had already said on Fox that Buck Showalter does not expect to sign Pettitte because of the payroll decrease in Texas. Given that Clemens is, supposedly, retiring, and Wells is 40, and Weaver looks like Eddie Whitson Jr., and Jose Contreras may be Hideki Irabu Jr., and Pettitte is a lefty, doesn't Steinbrenner have to re-sign him? George should have the cash and the only other real competition financially may be the Phils, who have always coveted Pettitte, have almost traded for him on numerous occasions, and have deep pockets as they move into a new stadium.]
Ryan (Elkhorn, NE): Joe, first off let me say you and Jon make Sunday Night Baseball the best around. Also, I'm a big fan of the Cubs as well. I've been extremely impressed with the bat of Alex Gonzalez lately. Any differences you see that have made his stroke come alive in the playoffs? And do you expect him to stay hot?
Thanks for the compliment, Ryan. Gonzalez has always had a lot of potential, I haven't really seen enough of him to make an evaluation as to why he is finally doing these things. If the Cubs get to the World Series I will definitely be speaking to hitting instructor Gary Matthew as to why he has come to life and what adjustments he's made.
[Mike: First, typical Joe not wanting to actually talk to the actual ballplayer. The youngster can't have made the improvement on his own. Joe will only speak with his contemporaries, ex-ballplayers who knew how to play. I hope when he does, he addresses Sarge correctly. It's Gary Matthews. Don't leave the last 'S' off for "savings."]
Jorge (Watertown): Hello Mr. Morgan, What are your thoughts on how Grady Little ran yesterday's game? I found many of his decisions poor, starting with opting to start Damian Jackson at 2nd when Todd Walker has been so hot lately. But there were also other questionable decisions, such as having Kapler at leadoff, and bringing in the lefty specialist Sauerbeck to face switch-hitting Posada, when the game was still in reach.
I was surprised to see Kapler in the leadoff spot b/c a bunt situation came up and hes not a good bunter -- in that situation he hit into a double play. That's not his fault, he should be in the 1 spot. Damian Jackson was playing second because Derek Lowe forces so many ground balls and he is a much better defensive second baseman than Walker. I think Grady wanted to use Saurback early to see if he could count on them later in the series -- like Joe Torre found out he could use Contreras to set up Rivera.
[Mike: Kapler's not a good bunter? What? Who cares? Kapler gets on base at a .336 clip. The Sox ended up pinch-hitting for him. How often do you see the batter you expect to give the most at-bats to being lifted in the ninth inning. And I'm not talking about being lifted for a slugger in a tight game. The Red Sox were trailing 6-2 and needed baserunners, but they would rather send the ever-average Dave McCarty to the plate than Kapler.
Jackson's a better second baseman, but Walker has been the hottest bat in the Red Sox lineup. The only real reason to leave Walker out of the lineup was that he was a lefty and Pettitte was pitching.
The worst move was staying with Lowe against Giambi, when the left-handed Sauerbeck was ready.]
Chris (Raleigh): Joe, out of all of the playoff teams, who do you think will is the Most Valuable Player?
Hmm, Chris, I'm not sure you can pick one guy. They all have a valuable player. Cubs with pitchers Prior or Woor ... or their offense from Sosa. It's as if each team has three MVPs. They all got here from every player showing up and consistantly putting out. It really is a team effort at this point, that's why they are still playing in October.
[Mike: Good answer. It's better to be diplomatic than to give an actual opinion. It's not like this is a chat session or anything.
It's not like Pudge Rodriguez has not hoisted the Marlins onto his back and dragged them through the playoffs. But it's pretty close. Walker has been great in Boston. Lofton gets the nod in Chicago with honorable mention to Sosa. Posada and Rivera have been big for the Yankees.]
Joe - NY: florida MVP Pudge - hands down - how did you miss that?
If I'd a thought Pudge deserved it I would have said so. How do you choose between Prior and Wood, for example? I'll answer it again. There's really not one standout guy that's more valuable than the rest.
[Mike: That's right, Joe. Stick by your guns. You didn’t know the answer when you were asked the first time and you still don't know. Don't let individual performance get in the way.
Just because Pudge has 10 RBIs, about a third of the team's total he is no more valuable than, say, Alex "The Lesser" Gonzalez of the .125 batting average.
We're all MVPs after all. God bless.]
dieter - sf: joe - dusty baker pithced prior late in a blowout game. Do you agree with this move? Why would Dusty not pull him and try to rest his arm when he had a chance. THis guy has pitched a ton of innings and thrown a lot of pitches lately. Is Dusty begging for disaster down the road (a la AJ Burnett)?
I wasn't there, but, I will say that pitch count is only important when you can calculate how much stress is involved. In a blowout game, those pitches were probably not as stressful as they would be in a tight game. That could be the equalizer. I will not question Dusty Baker, he knows what he's doing.
[Mike: First, Dieter can I touch your monkey?
Second, as Al Leiter said at the time, once you are over about 80 pitches, it does not really matter. Prior pitched 116 in that game. It's not like 140 or the 133 he threw in the Atlanta game.
Yes, it all has a cumulative effect and that's why he ran out of gas in game 6, but if Baker had gotten him out earlier, as he should have, everyone would have said that they wasted a great performance by him in that game.
Oh and Joe, it’s not like Prior was doing his Matty impersonation, pacing himself with a hefty lead in the deadball era. C'mon.]
Lou (Syracuse): As one of the all time best second basemen ever, what do you see in terms of strenths and weaknesses when you look at Alfonso Soriano? Do you think he has a chance to be one of the best ever?
What I see is that he is a guy that just needs to work specifically on his footwork and his focus on EVERY ground ball. He has to look at every ground ball as if it is the ninth inning and he as to make the play. He is still learning the position, footwork will come. Yes, I do think he could be one of the best ever.
[Mike: Yeah, and the same could be said of Tanner of Bad News Bears fame. Soriano has flashes but he is a dreadful second baseman. The man has two stars to steer by: Joe Morgan and Juan Samuel. It looked like he was headed toward Morgan last year, but this year Samuel has been the guiding force. He may soon head to center just like Samuel did as well.]
Steve - Minneapolis: Joe...Thanks for your great work. I really like the way you focus on the strategy of the game and talk about pitch location, hit and run, etc. The things that REALLY make baseball the great game that it is. All those other guys ever talk about is how great this guy is or that guy is. Do you think small-ball will play a significant, if any, role in the rest of this post season?
I think small-ball has it's place in this world of home run hittrers today and it definitely becomes more important in the post-season. Unfortuately a team like Boston really isn't built for small-ball. The Yankees are, the Cubs are, the Marlins are. Those three teams have speed and can hit for basehits. Boston must resort to slugging there way through these series. That hurt them last night and I think that will hurt them in the end.
[Mike: "Gee, Mrs. Cleever, that's a lovely housecoat. Will you please take me question?" Brown nose.
I agree with Joe though. Those three other teams could potentially blow a game with a stupid, wasteful bunt, and the Marlins kind of did.]
Andrew (New Jersey): Joe the great. I know this question isn't about the four teams remaining, but do you thing the Atlanta Braves will unload most of their team similar to what the Marlins did after '97? Also do you think their run is over? Take care Great One.
The Braves have won 12 straight divisional titles. Everybody keeps thinking the run is over and it keeps going. I think this time it will depend on whether they resight Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez. Without one or the other it could come to a hault. But Bobby Cox is a great manager and he will always keep them competative. I do think they will be without Maddux next year though.
[Mike: If Castilla, Giles, and Lopez return to earth and they lose Maddux, they could drop precipitously to fourth.]
Joe - Portland OR: Let's fanatsize a minute, suppose the Cubs and Sox make the World Series, would this be the biggest WS in years, or just a sign of the Apocolypse?
I think for baseball fans it would the greatest series in a long time. The curse of the Bambino and the curse of the goat -- all that stuff would finally disintigrate. That would certainly be the baseball fan's series. Those two teams are due. We'll see what happens.
[Mike: From Joe Morgan's October 1 chat:
[O]nly people in Boston and Chicago want it to be a Sox-Cubs World Series.
Oh, but I forgot, never quote Joe to Joe because he never said the things he said. He isn't even voicing the denials. Joe is really some AI program that randomly generates responses based on Joe's brain. The real Joe is a mindless automaton that Jon Miller shepherds around via a remote that makes your DVD remote seem advanced a la "Spock's Brain". Fascinating, Captain.]
Dennis (NY, NY): Joe: Where have the fundamentals gone? League MVP's with these baserunning blunders and standing in the batters box watching fly balls barely clear the fence (Tejada & Manny). Are these just mental blocks or is this just not being taught throughout farm systems? Thanks.
I think it is not being taught in the farms. Players get rushed to the big leagues when they are not mature. Fundamentals is a lost art. Overall, as Joe TOrre told me earlier this year, baserunning is the worst right now as it has been in years. That's a product of today's system.
[Mike: No, studies have shown that players are no more rushed today than ever. It's not that they are rushed, but that the minor-league systems feature different approaches today.
"Today's system" eschews stolen bases as it should. If certain players are not taught how to take an extra base or when to go on a fly ball, then maybe Joe's buddies, Gary Matthew and Joe Torres, should teach them instead of complaining about these young whippersnappers.]
Scott(Vernon,CT): Joe....I have to disagree that Boston has to slug it's way in order to win. They have many contact hitters in that lineup(Nomar, Mueller, Walker, and Damon) to compliment their power hitters (Manny, Ortiz, Millar). They may not have the speed of the other teams, but they can get the job done when necessary.
Scott, were you watching the game last night, when you had runners thrown out in a double play. They had Pettite on the ropes, they could have gone up 2-0 and they can't get the basehit. Again, they will have to outhit the Yankees to win.
The contact hitter Muellar took a third strike while Kapler was being thrown out stealing in the first. And then in the second with 0 outs runners on 1st and 2nd they hit into a double play. When they let Pettitte off the hook, he got his act together and beat 'em. MIssed opportunities because they can't lay down the bunt of drop a basehit. That's why I'm the analyst, I see all those things happen in a game.
[Mike: Answer is…"The most ridiculous statement ever said in a Joe Morgan chat session." Joe has Super Analyst vision—he sees things the average fan misses.
By the way, the Red Sox had one fewer bunt than the Yankees and almost twice as many sac flies. But yes, they rely more on the bat rather than speed. There are notable exceptions in Damon, Garciaparra, and Jackson. But Damon was out.
The bottom line is they missed opportunities, but they did outhit the Yankees (10 to 8) in game 2. The missed opportunities weren't because they didn't hit the way they usually do. It was because they small balled their way out of a big inning in the first. If they hadn't started Kapler anticipating that Mueller would make contact (a decent percentage move), then they would have probably scored on the Garciaparra and Ramirez singles. But they made the mistake of listening to schmoes like you, Joe.
As far as the second Kapler DP, if he had bunted they would have had second and third with one out. Mueller grounded out anyway, so that's two outs. And then you have men at second and third, 2 out, and the incredibly cold Garciaparra at bat. Maybe if Kapler went the other way at least they could have avoided the double play. Or if Kapler wasn't batting leadoff at all, perhaps a better hitter would have done better. If they used Jackson's speed at the top of the order, maybe they could have avoided those double plays.
But I'm not an analyst, so I can't see those things. ]
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