Watchfulness

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Podcasts

With the season starting today, here are some early season things to keep an eye on.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Bullpen refurbishments:

Rafael Soriano is already raising eyebrows everywhere with his Madonna-like behaviors. The fans are wondering what to make of him, the media is searching for a juicy story and the club personnel appears perturbed at his demanding nature and reclusive tendencies.

What’s going to happen if he allows a big homer or blows a game or two early in the season and the fans and media smell blood? He’s sensitive and nervous and had better get off on the right foot or his time in New York could go sour very, very quickly.

The Twins are a bullpen-based club that lost the core of their bullpen; they have a group of mediocre starters behind Francisco Liriano and the up-the-middle defense is an unknown. If the replacements for Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier aren’t able to handle the job, the Twins are in for a long year. And one can’t help but take a deep breath about Jeff Manship, Glen Perkins and Dusty Hughes.

The Braves have a two-headed rookie closer in Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters and the objective Braves observers have concerns about manager Fredi Gonzalez’s maneuverings with his relievers. These young pitchers have to perform.

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Jobs on the line:

Edwin Rodriguez did an admirable job with the Marlins after taking over last season but owner Jeffrey Loria was already squawking about his team’s poor play…in spring training.

Expectations are high; the team is strangely constructed with a good pitching staff and awful defense; and they’re moving into a new ballpark in 2012.

The flirtation with Bobby Valentine went hot and cold; Loria had his eye on Valentine before and with Ozzie Guillen‘s option with the White Sox for 2012 having been exercised, he won’t be available. If the Marlins are struggling, Rodriguez will take the fall and, Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN gig or not, Valentine will be hovering.

The Mariners were an embarrassing train wreck on and off the field last season. GM Jack Zduriencik’s “genius” label has degenerated into something resembling a questionable human being for the Josh Lueke episode and the team is horrendous.

If anything—anything—that goes in the front of the newspaper rather than the back happens, ownership might want to bring in someone with historic competence and Mariners ties.

Pat Gillick still lives in Seattle and hasn’t officially retired.

The Athletics have very high expectations and Billy Beane isn’t going to take the fall if they get off to a bad start. Manager Bob Geren has survived for a variety of reasons—not the least of which he’s Beane’s “best friend”.

We’ll see how long that “friendship” factor lasts if Beane is under fire.

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Ownerships:

The Mets and Dodgers ownerships have legal issues—the Wilpons are being sued; the McCourts are divorcing—they’re the butt of endless jokes and may not have the money to run their clubs on a day-to-day basis.

Both teams could be on the market sooner rather than later.

When Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine overruled GM Brian Cashman on Soriano, they hearkened back to the days of George Steinbrenner jumping in and doing things that weren’t part of the planned agenda of their “full autonomy” GM.

If the Yankees are behind the Red Sox into the summer—and possibly out of playoff position entirely—will they insist on Cashman including young players he doesn’t want to trade to get a Chris Carpenter, Francisco Liriano or Ryan Dempster? And would that spur Cashman to want to leave at the end of the season?

Panic follows desperation and the pursuit of Carl Pavano and signing of Soriano exemplify desperation from both Cashman and the Steinbrnners.

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My podcast appearance with SportsFanBuzz previewing the season is posted. You can listen here The SportsFan Buzz: March 30, 2011 or on iTunes.

I was on with Mike at NYBaseballDigest. last night. You can listen here.

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I’ll be hosting a forum every day starting today on TheCopia.com. I’ll give the details on Twitter and Facebook. Click on the links at the top of the page for my Twitter/Facebook accounts.

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Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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2011 Postseason Predictions

Books, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Podcasts

First things first, my podcast appearance with SportsFanBuzz is posted. You can listen here The SportsFan Buzz: March 30, 2011 or on iTunes.

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ALDS:

Detroit Tigers vs Boston Red Sox

Red Sox in 4.

ALDS:

Los Angeles Angels vs Chicago White Sox

White Sox in 5.

ALCS:

Chicago White Sox vs Boston Red Sox

Red Sox in 6.

American League Champions: Boston Red Sox

NLDS:

St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies in 3.

NLDS:

Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers in 4.

NLCS:

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies in 7.

National League Champions: Philadelphia Phillies

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2011 World Series

Boston Red Sox vs Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies in 6.

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2011 World Series Champions

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

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Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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2011 Predicted Award Winners

Books, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Here are my 2011 predicted award winners:

American League

MVP: Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox

Cy Young Award: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Rookie of the Year: Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays

Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers

National League

MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

Cy Young Award: Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Philles

Rookie of the Year: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager of the Year: Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers

I just finished my podcast with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

I’ll post the links as they’re available.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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2011 Predicted National League Standings

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

National League East          Wins      Losses      GB

1. Philadelphia Phillies          106           56              —

2. Atlanta Braves*                  90            72              16

3. Florida Marlins                   82            80             24

4. New York Mets                   73             89             33

5. Washington Nationals        66             96             34

*Denotes predicted Wild Card Winner.

National League Central         Wins    Losses     GB

1. St. Louis Cardinals                88         74               —

2. Milwaukee Brewers                84         78                4

3. Cincinnati Reds                     83         79                5

4. Chicago Cubs                       78         84                10

5. Houston Astros                     69         93                19

6. Pittsburgh Pirates                 65         97                23

National League West           Wins       Losses     GB

1. Los Angeles Dodgers            89             73              —

2. Colorado Rockies                  86             76               3

3. San Francisco Giants            81              81               8

4. San Diego Padres                 78              84              11

5. Arizona Diamondbacks          68              94              21

I’ll be a guest on two podcasts today. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

I’ll link them as they’re up.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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2011 Predicted American League Standings

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

American League East       Wins       Losses      GB

1. Boston Red Sox                100          62             —

2. New York Yankees            89           73             11

3. Tampa Bay Rays               86            76            14

4. Toronto Blue Jays             83            79            17

5. Baltimore Orioles               66            96           34

American League Central         Wins     Losses     GB

1. Chicago White Sox                   92           70        —

2. Detroit Tigers*                          90           72         2

3. Minnesota Twins                       76           86        16

4. Kansas City Royals                   72           90        20

5. Cleveland Indians                      67           95         25

* Denoted predicted Wild Card Winner.

American League West      Wins     Losses     GB

1. Los Angeles Angels            87           75         —

2. Texas Rangers                   86           76          1

3. Oakland Athletics                84           78         3

4. Seattle Mariners                  67           95         20

I’ll be a guest on two podcasts today. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

I’ll link them as they’re up.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

Viewer Mail 3.29.2011

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett:

I don’t think Hughes is the #3 pitcher because he’s being coddled in terms of pitch count. I think the choice was all about A.J. and giving him confidence by not demoting him to #3.

It’s a fair point.

But we both know Hughes is going to be watched this year and they really can’t afford to baby him with the rotation in the state its in. I hold steady with wondering if Joe Girardi is going to take the bullpen-based strategy to its logical conclusion and overuse his relievers. And now with Pedro Feliciano hurt they’re more stretched. Plus Rafael Soriano isn’t assimilating to the culture all that well and if anyone’s being coddled, it’s him.

They’ve got issues and don’t fall into the trap of, “oh, the Yankees will just make a trade at mid-season”. It’s not that simple anymore.

Franklin Rabon at As If I’m Really Conscious writes RE Barry Bonds and perjury:

I will say one thing about the various perjury cases involved with steroids. The government takes perjury very seriously, regardless of what the subject matter is. I think the sort of error that a lot of us are making when looking at these trials, as farcical as they may seem, is looking at them from a steroids/baseball angle. That really doesn’t have much to do at all with why these cases are being brought. If you want to point the finger at the government interjecting itself, it was the hearings on steroids in the first place. Once you lie to the government under oath, the die is cast.

Barry Bonds may well be acquitted of perjury, despite the fact that it’s relatively obvious that he did indeed lie under oath, but do you think others in a similar situation will be a bit more wary of lying under oath? You bet.

Another fair point and Franklin’s a lawyer.

The Kimberly Bell testimony turned out to be far more damaging than was initially suggested it would be; if Bonds really confessed to using steroids, then it comes down to if the jury believes Bell—NY Times Story.

But the suggestion that he couldn’t perform sexually isn’t within the confines of steroid side-effects I’m familiar with and I have read up on the subject from the likes of the late bodybuilding guru Dan Duchaine.

It’s the exact opposite in fact. If they’re going by the typical steroid factoids, then it has to be allowed that Bell wasn’t familiar with the increased libido that’s another hallmark of steroid/HGH use.

I understand that they’re using Bonds as an example, but given some of the crimes people who lie are charged with I’ve never been of the mind that lying under oath is going to be a line they wouldn’t cross. For people who might lie to protect someone, yes, this might be a deterrent.

I still can’t get past the “no turning back now” concept that the government feels they’d lose face—win or lose the trial—if they cut a deal or didn’t try as hard as possible to convict him. They know he’s not going to do hard, if any, time.

We’ll have a result soon enough.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Brendan Ryan and “WINNING”!

To think the Cardinals success or lack thereof was dependent upon Brendan Ryan is… asinine. Seriously.

Jeff is referring to my posting from Sunday afternoon and the NY Times article equating winning games with….something other than reality.

You can twist that into anything!! Literally. Did they have Jobu—the good luck charm from Major League? How about the clubhouse man? Did he have something to do with it?

It’s like the woman who sat behind home plate during the 1986 World Series rotating her arms—did that “distract” Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley and Bill Buckner and play a part in the Mets comeback victory?

It’s ludicrous.

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I’ll be a guest on two podcasts tomorrow. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

****

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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Theories

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

Research is important.

And today, it’s easy.

With that in mind, I have to wonder why writers insist on twisting facts to bolster their arguments when the “facts” which underpin their assertions are so rapidly ascertainable.

The latest is in today’s NY Times: In Search for an Ace? It’s Best to Invest Early.

In this piece, Tyler Kepner attempts to “explain” how to successfully build a pitching staff through the draft. Of course there are the customary shots at the Pirates for repeatedly bypassing on pitchers they should’ve drafted and then watched the failures of the ones they did.

In the piece, there are the facts without context; quotes from executives; and blame doled out on those who were supposedly responsible for the missteps.

Everyone has a theory.

In Moneyball, there was the results-oriented and college player postulation that a team with limited resources should find signable, near-mature talent to use in the big leagues as quickly as possible.

With the Giants championship spurred by homegrown talent, naturally the focus is on developing young players—especially pitchers; the concept has evolved to drafting highly and selecting the best available arms.

Jennie Finch and her husband Casey Daigle now have a son called “Ace”; the implication is that because of those tremendous genetics to be tall and to pitch, there’s going to be a top draft pick on the horizon 17-20 years from now.

Then there’s the “new” way in which the same Pirates—mentioned earlier—are spending heavily on international prospects and investing in the draft by going over advised MLB slot prices.

Which is it?

Is it the last thing that worked?

Or is it a strategy that must be adhered to if the individual teams want to be considered intelligent and have books written about them?

Former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield is defended by his now-boss, Jim Hendry with the Cubs; it’s said that because of the interference of the Pirates ownership in what Littlefield wanted to do, he couldn’t win. Littlefield made some good trades like the one in which he acquired Jason Bay; and some terrible ones where he got nothing for Aramis Ramirez. The team was consistently awful under his stewardship and he quickly proved that there are certain executives who are not suited to being the architect of the organization—they’re better as assistants.

A lack of money doesn’t account for that; nor does it excuse the draft mistakes and the suggestion that the Pirates bypassed CC Sabathia for financial reasons and misunderstood his potential. But the entire foundation of the Sabathia gaffe is faulty because Kepner leaves out the other players who were drafted ahead of the big lefty.

The Pirates drafted Clint Johnston—a lefty who never made it as a pitcher despite big strikeout numbers; he didn’t make it as a hitter either after making the switch to first base and the outfield.

As for the other players who were missed by teams not named the Pirates, there were 19 players picked in front of Sabathia—link. Some of whom—Mark Mulder, Pat Burrell, J.D. Drew, Brad Lidge—made it; others who didn’t. Does that mean the Pirates should be singled out as “stupid”? Only if the other clubs are stupid as well.

How quickly did the Moneyball nonsense come apart as the 2002-2003 drafts which were supposedly orchestrated by the “genius” Billy Beane yielded some useful players like Nick Swisher, but placed an untenable amount of pressure on Jeremy Brown to live up to the role he played in the book; I’m convinced that had he not been such a central character, Brown could very well have been a useful bat in someone’s lineup; everyone knew his name for all the wrong reasons and he was done at 27.

This was exacerbated by Beane’s abandonment of the principles Michael Lewis’s story (not account, story) laid out as in subsequent years, Beane took the step of drafting the dreaded…high….school….pitcher!

It worked too with Trevor Cahill.

The Giants drafted highly—as Brewers GM Doug Melvin says in the article—because they were bad for a few years; but the Giants were smart (or gutsy; or desperate) enough to look past Tim Lincecum‘s size, unusual training regimen and stage father to draft him and leave him alone. How many other organizations would’ve accepted the terms set forth by his dad?

The genetics theory? It’s not irrelevant to think that a young player who comes from good athletic stock can mimic the skills of his parents, but you can pick and choose with that as well. Where’s Nolan Ryan‘s son Reid now?

The Pirates are spending money and expanding their international outreach, but it’s only going to bear fruit if they find players with the money they’re spending. Whether or not they’re acquiring talent is the key, not how much they pay for it. Considering the atrocious way in which the Pirates are being run by the current front office at the major league level, why would they know what they’re doing in scouting young players—money aside—and not have a clue how to make intelligent trades or understand that it was a terrible idea to non-tender Matt Capps?

We can go up and down the draft boards and find players that were overlooked for one reason or another, but what’s the point?

Mining for talent isn’t a science; it’s not a matter of spending money; nor is it a broad-based set of rules that must be adhered to for fear of being called a fool. It’s about knowing what you’re doing; being lucky; having the courage to do as the Giants did with Lincecum and leave him alone; teaching; and giving young players an opportunity.

The Giants succeeded because they had all those factors going for them. Not because of the high draft choices alone.

I’ll be a guest on two podcasts tomorrow. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

Don’t be scaaaaared.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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Soriano’s Red Flags Grow Redder

Books, Management, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

Rafael Soriano brought a reputation with him to Yankees pinstripes and it wasn’t a good one.

From his reluctance to pitch more than one inning or in non-save situations for the Rays last season to the tantrum he threw when brought into a playoff game(!)—the final game of a series—to keep the score close when his team was trailing, it was clear that he wasn’t a Yankees-type from the start.

Add in his frequent injuries and penchant for giving up the home run ball in big games and you start to see why—in addition to the money and lost draft picks—Brian Cashman didn’t want Soriano.

But Randy Levine and the Steinbrenners overruled their GM and signed Soriano to a 3-year, $35 million contract to set-up for Mariano Rivera and possibly replace the iconic closer one day.

Will Soriano pitch well for the Yankees?

For the most part, he will.

In a big game in Boston with the game on the line, will he grip the ball too tightly and let the Fenway Park crowd affect his delicate sensibilities to the point where he can’t throw strikes or grooves a fastball to Adrian Gonzalez?

Absolutley.

These accommodations the club is providing to a pitcher who has accomplished nothing are stark and disturbing.

Since when do the Yankees let players not named Derek Jeter or Rivera dictate the terms upon which they participate in a spring training game?

That’s exactly what they’ve done with Soriano this spring.

First he decided—unilaterally—that he didn’t want to pitch against division rivals so they wouldn’t gain an advantage against him for the regular season.

I could almost understand if it was against his former club, the Rays; but he refused to pitch against the Orioles—the same Orioles he pitched against in 9 games last season. Soriano appeared in 6 games each vs the Red Sox and Blue Jays as well.

Did he develop a new pitch that he didn’t want them to see? Fix a mechanical twitch? What were these clubs going to face that they hadn’t faced before?

But the Yankees gave him sway over his use and let him throw 21 pitches in a minor league game in lieu of pitching against the Orioles.

Then on Saturday it was reported that after pitching 2/3 of an inning he decided—again unilaterally—that it was his last spring appearance and he was “ready to go”.

Where in the Yankees universe has it ever been such that a player like Soriano gets the final say in his training regimen?

Whether or not Soriano is effective with his idiosyncratic behavior is beside the point; he is a part of the team and is making demands on his new employer that they would never tolerate from anyone—not even Jeter and Rivera; that’s mostly because Jeter and Rivera wouldn’t behave in such a way.

That’s the point.

Who does Soriano think he is?

It’s a month into his Yankees career and he’s looking more like a Kenny Lofton/Kevin Brown/Denny Neagle-type—players who weren’t Yankees. They didn’t behave accordingly according to team dynamic.

For a variety of reasons, they weren’t right for the team, the clubhouse or the city.

They didn’t fit.

Soriano joins the Yankees, a club that judges seasonlong success or failure on whether or not there’s a parade in the Canyon of Heroes in November. He arrives with a grand total of three post-season appearances in his career. In two of them, he allowed home runs—the second one being in the ninth inning of game 5, breaking the Rays’ collective backs as they were facing a dominating Cliff Lee.

It’s appropriate that I mention Lee because it was his shunning of the Yankees offer that spurred them to make the desperation move for the next biggest name in a weak free agent crop—Soriano.

Desperation breeds mistakes.

Much like the familiar caveat I provide when the complaints about A.J. Burnett reach a fever pitch: this is what they bought!!

They bought a pitcher who has never been able to handle pressure.

They bought a pitcher who is making his own rules and putting forth the implication that he holds the hammer over the Yankees heads with the contract opt-outs after 2011 or 2012.

They bought a problem.

The championship Yankees had troublemakers (David Wells); partiers (David Cone); hotheads (Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada); quirky people (Bernie Williams); even megastar divas (Alex Rodriguez; Roger Clemens), but this is different.

Those players earned the right to be who they were.

Soriano hasn’t.

If he’s already a problem in March, just wait until September.

They were warned.

I’ll be a guest on two podcasts Wednesday. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

Prepare.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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Yellowcake From Nyjer

Books, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

Because of his on-field brawls, confrontations with fans and suspensions late last season, Nyjer Morgan‘s reputation has become that of an explosive, feisty outfielder who’s ready to fight at the slightest transgression.

This is exactly a year after the Nationals were credited with finding a defensive gem whose speed and glove made him the centerpiece of a trade with the Pirates—as 2009 wound down, the stat guys were suddenly in love with Nyjer Morgan. And he hit .351 in 49 games after joining the Nats.

Neither appellation is accurate.

The Nationals traded Morgan to the Brewers for minor league infielder/outfielder Cutter Dykstra (Lenny Dykstra‘s son) to clear a logjam of mediocrity in their outfield. This wasn’t so much about Rick Ankiel beating out Morgan, but that the Nats wanted to get rid of Morgan and his exponentially multiplying baggage of perceived bellicosity.

Morgan’s not a troublemaker, per se; it has to be remembered that he was a hockey player as a teenager and—a pretty good one—and understanding the culture of players literally fistfighting for playing time, he’s not going to tolerate any infringement on his personal space for fear of others taking similar liberties.

Nor was he this tremendous pickup for the Nats despite his terrific play late in 2009.

Of all the players for whom Morgan has been traded, the one I would want above all is now-Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and his searing fastball.

As for this trade, the Brewers were trapped in between a club built on power and starting pitching with a shaky defense, a questionable bullpen and gaping black holes in their lineup.

Incumbent center fielder Carlos Gomez has more long-term potential than Morgan, but Morgan is a far better player right now with similar defensive skills; the Brewers are built to win now and they have to get off to a good start. To that end, as a known entity, Morgan should be the everyday center fielder to begin the season.

Independent of the bizarre, undefined way in which the Nationals are building their club—they have two cornerstone, franchise players in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper along with some good young talent in Ryan Zimmerman; and they’re paying a deranged amount of money for a good, but not great player in Jayson Werth—Dykstra is a good acquisition; he’s 21, versatile and had a fine year at the plate in A ball in 2010. He’s far from the big leagues, but can be part of the future with Strasburg and Harper.

This trade is a win-win for both sides.

I’ll be a guest on two podcasts Wednesday. In the afternoon, I’ll be on with Sal at SportsFanBuzz; in the evening with Mike on NYBaseballDigest.

I’d suggest you get yourself a complete survival kit and do not light a match.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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Welcome To The Charlie Sheen Wing Of Analysts

Books, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

Of course, I’m referring to “WINNING!!”

In today’s NY Times, Mike Tully writes in the Keeping Score feature that To Create Winner, You Have to Find the Winners.

Examples cited to “prove” his point are David Eckstein‘s overachievement and two championship rings; records of players who—in any permutation—have very little to do with their teams winning or losing; and Carlos Beltran‘s return to the Mets lineup last season coinciding with their slide from contention to mediocrity and embarrassment.

How does one quantify this?

It’s not even an old-school, antiquated notion that can be picked apart by new metrics; it’s simple baseless nonsense.

Although it’s rife with assertions that are akin to a shooting gallery to pick off one-by-one, the best example of the bizarre leaps of logic in the piece is the following about Brendan Ryan:

St. Louis traded shortstop Brendan Ryan to Seattle in the off-season after his career-worst .223 batting average. The Cardinals were 17 games over .500 with Ryan, seven games under without him.

So?

The 17 games over .500/7 games under stuff is meaningless without full context. Did Tully look at the games in which Ryan played and how the pitchers pitched? Whether Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday homered or drove in multiple runs? If the opposing club had a bad day in one way or another?

It’s as if he credited Ryan for his attendance though Ryan—with his .223 average, no power, little speed, no on base skills at the plate and his very good defense—had that much of an influence on the “winning” when he played and the losses when he didn’t.

The Cardinals defense at shortstop was markedly worse when Ryan wasn’t playing and his primary replacements—Felipe Lopez and Tyler Greene—were; but you can’t judge whether the diminished defense had to do with the poorer record without tearing the whole thing apart.

That’s the point.

Tully leaves out a warehouse full of accessible information to bolster a non-existent case that cannot be bolstered without doing some actual research beyond the won/lost record.

Some people who rely on stats are bad enough with their condescension and self-important beliefs that since they can calculate a formula they’re automatic “experts” who can tell Tony La Russa how to run his team; but those on the other side (the radical opposing wing led by Murray Chass and others) is, in a way, worse!

It’s as if those still resistant to any kind of statistical analysis are more invested in maintaining their position than using new metrics to increase their understanding; slow to evolve because even the tiniest utilization of a new and potentially valuable tool is perceived as an admission of weakness.

We see this in Mike Francesa who’s always about 3-5 years behind everyone else, yet never admits the alteration in what he calls “expertise”. I haven’t heard him reference the “stat” he and his former partner Chris Russo used called “runs created” in which they’d add up the homers, RBI and runs scored of a hitter; this was ignorant of the fact that, yeah, a hitter gets an RBI and a run every time he hits a homer—it’s a bit redundant.

No, it’s a lot redundant.

I’m no stat guy, but I use stats in their proper place to try and come to a consensus in my own mind as to what I think is going to happen; how teams would best be served in acquiring and subtracting players among other maneuvers on and off the field.

The piece printed in today’s Times is a colossal waste of energy that has to be addressed because there are going to be a substantial number of people who want to believe it and will use it as “proof”.

As for Brendan Ryan, let’s see how his reputation as a “winner” plays out in Seattle with the Mariners, a team destined to lose 95 games—a number of games they’d lose with or without Ryan.

Why?

Because the Mariners are terrible and Ryan is a fringe big leaguer who benefited by playing for the Cardinals.

At least Charlie Sheen has a viable excuse for his delusions: he’s a drug addict!!

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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