Swift And Deadly 5.31.2011

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The titles to these attempts at brief, short bursts of valuable information is a work-in-progress.

I alter my approach and find what works the best; it’s what I do.

Let’s take a look.

Closing time. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

After blowing his fifth save of the season yesterday, Royals righty Joakim Soria has been replaced as the closer by Aaron Crow.

Given his struggles, this decision makes sense; you can’t keep putting him out there if he’s in such a horrific slump. Having been one of the top closers in baseball since taking the job in 2007 and signed to a super-cheap long-term contract, Soria’s been pursued by big market clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox to no avail.

Unless he’s not completely healthy, I would assume he’s going to regain his groove and the closer’s job at some point. Letting him take a break isn’t a bad thing and for you fantasy/roto players, dumping him immediately for what’s probably a short-term demotion is a mistake; so too is it a mistake to pull a desperation deal to pick up Crow. Crow’s numbers this season are impressive, but he’s never closed.

Wait it out is my advice.

Speaking of closers…

I didn’t discuss it when it happened, but the ridiculous mess in Oakland between A’s on-again/off-again closer Brian Fuentes and the club exemplified the twisted nature of the “designated” roles and Billy Beane‘s supposed “genius”.

As he’s shown year-after-year, Fuentes is—at best—inconsistent; a 4-time All Star, he’s lost and regained the job repeatedly everywhere he’s been. It’s absolutely reasonable for A’s manager Bob Geren to make a closer-switch with other capable arms like Grant Balfour, Brad Ziegler and the returning-from-injury Andrew Bailey.

But having Fuentes warm up in the 7th inning without informing him of the possibility wasn’t simple lack-of-communication; it was a shirking of responsibility of the manager’s job.

The argument that the players should be ready at any and all times is unrealistic and antiquated in a big league setting.

What made this even more inane was that Beane had dispatched manager Ken Macha for the vague and oft-repeated “lack of communication”.

All Macha did was win.

All Geren’s done is lose.

For there to be this subjective set of tenets to keep or fire the manager flies in the face of the basis upon which Beane was referred to as a “genius” to begin with.

You can make the argument that, prior to this season, the Athletics have played up to their potential under Geren. His best season as manager came in 2010 when the team finished at .500; apart from that, they’ve consistently been a mid-70 win team.

Given the talent levels, they should’ve been better in 2009 and they should be better this season.

But they’re still flopping around at or near .500 and Geren’s communications skills are clearly lacking.

Beane can dismiss the notion that Geren’s job status is unrelated to their close friendship, but look at it objectively. If it was a manager with whom Beane had nothing more than a working relationship, would Geren still be there?

You tell me.

The draft is coming and the suspense builds.

This statement from a posting on MLBTradeRumors has me twitchy with wonder and anticipation:

ESPN.com’s Keith Law projects the Pirates to select UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick, though he says they’re still seriously in on Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and high school outfielder Bubba Starling. It’s too early to rule out Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon either.

So what this means is that—at the time of his posting and subject to multiple changes in the coming milliseconds—they’re going to draft Cole, but they might go for Hultzen; or maybe Starling; and don’t discount Rendon.

I…I might burst!

Who will it be?

Will it be Player A (who might or might not make it in the big leagues with the team that drafts him)?

Will it be Player B (who might or might not make it in the big leagues with the team that drafts him)?

Will it be Player C….

Oh, never mind.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here and recently received a 5-star review on Amazon.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

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Precision Strikes 5.30.2011

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Let’s address some stuff. In brief.

The true test with big name trades.

Jose Reyes on a hot streak begets endless stories of how the Mets “have” to sign him.

The Mets don’t “have” to do anything other than what’s best for the franchise. If that means trading Reyes, then they should trade Reyes. If that means keeping Reyes, then they should make every effort to keep Reyes.

With the new minority owner David Einhorn about to infuse the club with much-needed cash, it leaves the Reyes decision in the hands of GM Sandy Alderson; presumably, Alderson will make his call based purely on baseball-related matters.

Reyes has been great all season long but that can only enhance his trade value and perhaps give the Mets more incentive to trade him.

Hypothetically, if a team hungry for offense like the Angels comes calling in desperation and offers a package that includes say Mike Trout (unlikely) and/or Jean Segura (nod to Peter at Capitol Avenue; I had no idea who Segura was and kinda still don’t; his numbers look “young Reyes-like” though), then that would be another mistake on the Mets docket, this one made by the new management team stemming from failing to act.

It’s hard to do, but one of the reasons the Rays, Marlins and to a certain extent, the Red Sox have been so successful within certain parameters of belief on how to run their franchises is that they either don’t have a fan base that is so frantic at the prospect of trading anyone and everyone as is the case with the Rays and Marlins; or do what they feel is right based on current circumstances, like the Red Sox.

This is the tack the Mets need to take with Reyes, Carlos Beltran and any other player in whom opposing clubs are interested—keep and open mind in every conceivable aspect.

Business is business; annoying is annoying.

I understand ESPN’s need for cross-promotion, but it’s gone from necessary to ego-driven to over-the-top and has entered into the airless vacuum of content which you can’t even pay attention to anymore.

Never mind the impropriety of sports reporters cozying up to athletes about whom they’re supposed to provide objective analysis (if such a thing even exists anymore, anywhere other than here); forget the coverage of convenience that occurs when lust-target Brett Favre emerges from his lair.

Ignore all of that.

When you log onto ESPN.com or watch, listen or read any of their demographically dominated entities, you have to know what you’re walking into; but is it necessary for me to have to endure the rollover ads with the unfunny Kenny Mayne talking about Van Heusen shirts in his canned deadpan? Do I have to see Chris Berman’s smug countenance hawking Nesquik?

I log onto ESPN.com because I have to; I’m not a reporter nor do I want to be one; the sad part is, it’s getting so ESPN’s reporters—many of whom are or were of high-quality—are sucked into editorial edicts or goofy commercials because they have no other option either.

It took nearly 7 years, but…

I saw this on Twitter:

Scott Kazmir 2 1/3 innings 10 earned runs tonight. In two starts for Salt Lake, 4 innings 16 earned runs.

When the Mets traded Kazmir to the Devil Rays for a package led by Victor Zambrano, it was called one of the worst trades in baseball history.

Maybe it was.

But now, nearly 7 years after the fact, it’s a safe bet that Zambrano is now better than Kazmir.

As far as I know, Zambrano is retired.

Maybe the Mets “College of Cardinals” front office who pushed the deal through knew something?

Okay, we won’t go that far.

The only thing remaining for Kazmir is some Ben Sheets-style surgical procedure whether he needs it or not. Apart from that, I dunno what else can be done with him after the Angels release him—an unavoidable occurrence is assuredly on the horizon.

Sometimes there is justice.

Am I the only one who finds it funny that Jonny Gomes is batting under .200 for the struggling Reds and is losing playing time to the underrated Fred Lewis?

That the Reds are considering an offensive upgrade because of Gomes’s struggles?

That the Cardinals are rolling along in first place after a spring training incident in which Gomes sang and celebrated the season-ending injury to Cards ace Adam Wainwright?

Wainwright’s out for the year because of injury; Gomes may soon be sitting because he’s been awful.

I call that street justice.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here and recently received a 5-star review on Amazon.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

The Present And Future Of The Mets

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While the situation is still fluid, judging from the reporting of the Mets pending deal with David Einhorn, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for both sides.

According to this NY Times article, in brief and to the best of my understanding, Einhorn is infusing the organization with cash to continue operations and will have the option of purchasing the entire team if the Wilpons lose their case in the Madoff mess. If the Wilpons are able to maintain control of the franchise, Einhorn will keep a minority stake and get his investment money back.

The debate as to the wisdom of this will rage with those knowledgable and not weighing in, but from what’s being publicly divulged, it sounds good for both sides.

As for the reactions to a financial guy buying into the Mets and the attempts by the media, bloggers and fans to “influence” the negotiations in some way (stopping Einhorn; entreating Mark Cuban; “forcing” the Wilpons to sell), here’s my advice: wake up.

Using Fred Wilpon’s comments in the new issue of the New Yorker as a cause célèbre is a convenient way to complete a column and try to exert phantom power, but MLB and the Mets aren’t going to care about the desires of outsiders; they’re not going to pursue Cuban and beg him to buy in because some perceive him to be the answer to the Mets prayers; and they’re not going to shun Einhorn because he’s not “of the right background” as if his genealogy is not adequate to gain his membership card; he’s a Wall Street guy and Wall Street guys are the ones with the money.

And, um, the lauded Rays front office is loaded with Wall Street/financial guys.

I discussed the Wilpon comments last week; you can read that posting here.

As for the Mets current struggles on the field, what were you expecting?

This team isn’t good. They’re not equipped to contend even in the watered down National League; they’re in the toughest division in the NL and plainly and simply do not have the talent to hang with the Marlins, Braves and Phillies throughout the summer. Whether they win 73 games; 78 games; 80 games or whatever is largely irrelevant for 2011.

Mets fans don’t want to hear that; Mets club personnel don’t want to say it; but it just is.

This season is designed for GM Sandy Alderson to reconstitute the club from top-to-bottom; that might include trading Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez. The borderline derangement at the thought of Reyes either being traded or allowed to leave as a free agent is typical of the response which caused prior club regimes to undertake acts that are now retrospectively ludicrous; maneuvers that were done only to accrue the short burst of positivity that comes from doing what the fans and media want.

The problem is that’s how they got into this mess to begin with.

So Mets fans and analysts have to ask: do we want to aspire to be the Red Sox—who were as much a laughingstock as the Mets are currently before John Henry (another financial guy) bought the team—or do they want to remain the “Mets”; not the noun Mets; it’s the adjective “Mets”—a meaning we don’t have to go into here because it doesn’t need to be explained.

The rampant panic as to the potential loss of Reyes is ignorant of reality. The Mets hired Alderson because he has a history of doing what he feels is right for his organization in lieu of what’s popular. Of course some of that was wrongheaded and selfish as was the case when, as president of the Padres, he tried to validate his role in Moneyball instead of making sound decisions; but given his statements since taking over the Mets, he’s learned from his mistakes as any competent executive must do.

The fleeting nature and crisis-a-day atmosphere is part of the 24-hour news cycle and it can be a detriment to running anything correctly.

This current club is not the one that will return the Mets to glory. Fans calling for the signing of Reyes immediately to preclude his departure; for aggressive (and stupid) player moves are the same fans who wanted Omar Minaya fired for the past 3 years after Minaya did what they called for him to do!

That’s what Jeff Wilpon, Tony Bernazard and the rest of the crew who were in charge of the club since 2004 created.

So conscious of public perception, the Mets were a creation of that stimulus response; it was a vicious circle; the pattern must be interrupted and altered for it to change in the long-term.

Regardless of the residue of what that management did and didn’t do, the Mets under that dysfunction, came close to winning it all in 2006; and were undone by circumstances and self-destruction in 2007 and 2008; by 2009-2010, the entire foundation came crumbling down.

But these things are rebuilt quickly and rarely is it done with one player such as Reyes; if he leaves in one fashion or another, it’s up to Alderson to figure out how to move forward; judging such a departure as catastrophic is short-sighted and leads to desperate stupidity.

Deranged ranting and self-indulgence won’t help this team in 2011, a known “bridge year”; once the sale to Einhorn is complete and the financial health of the club is stabilized, more will be known. They might choose to try and retain Reyes or they might not, but it won’t be that one decision that will make-or-break the franchise; in fact, dealing Reyes might be the building blocks of a return to prominence for the Mets—you don’t know.

The Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Reyes, Beltran and possibly K-Rod moneys are all coming off the books; which players from other clubs who might come available in a trade for a variety of reasons renders doomsaying for the future meaningless.

Let it shake itself out and trust the baseball people.

There’s really no other choice.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here and recently received a 5-star review on Amazon.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

A Marriage Of Mutual Risk; Mutual Opportunity

Books, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

The Yankees are still in desperate need of starting pitching.

With the continued absence of Phil Hughes, the foreboding nature of Bartolo Colon‘s and Freddy Garcia‘s performances and the absence of Rafael Soriano, they’re going to have to find a quality arm somewhere.

The names that will be bandied about at the trading deadline run the gamut from the financially expensive, player-cheap and probably useful Ryan Dempster; to the “steer clear because he’s toxic” Carlos Zambrano; to the check-in guys who are probably unavailable like Felix Hernandez; and the shaky, but “worth a look to see if the price comes down”-types like Francisco Liriano.

Then there are others.

There are high-quality arms that are struggling in a personal sense and watching as their team plummets in the standings.

Arms like Ubaldo Jimenez.

After a 19-8 season in 2010 and a star turn with various scoreless innings streaks and a no-hitter, Jimenez—like his Colorado Rockies—has struggled this year. Following his effort against the Cardinals, Jimenez has fallen to 0-5 with an ERA of near 6.

Despite that, he’s pitched better as of late after a horrific start; his strikeout numbers and ancillary stats are in line with what he’s always been; and without having watched him, it appears as if his problem is more command-related than any physical malady. In fact, his early season slump could have been attributed directly to the cut on the cuticle of his thumb that negatively affected his ability to grip the ball and put him on the disabled list.

Could the flailing Rockies listen to offers on the 27-year-old Jimenez? And would they do something drastic especially after losing Jorge de la Rosa to Tommy John-surgery?

Their pitching is in tatters, but they’re in a winnable division; with their penchant for late season hot streaks, it would be a major concession to toss the season by dealing Jimenez regardless of what was coming back.

That said, GM Dan O’Dowd is aggressive and willing to think outside the box, doing things sooner rather than later; the club has payroll constraints and if the offer was substantial enough to fill several holes, perhaps they’d listen on Jimenez.

What would the Yankees be willing to do?

Would they put together a package of Jesus Montero, either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos and the heretofore “untouchable” Eduardo Nunez for Jimenez?

The Rockies have to realize by now that Chris Iannetta isn’t going to cut it as a long-term solution behind the plate and while Montero is young and his defense is a work-in-progress, he’s still a catcher and Iannetta is signed through 2012 with a 2013 option; Montero should be ready by then if he’s every going to be ready; and if he can’t catch, they can shift him to a corner infield position or the outfield.

It would be a lot to part with either Banuelos or Betances. Banuelos is 20 and Betances 23, you don’t want to trade such youth in most circumstances; but Jimenez is only a few years older, is locked up contractually at a low price through 2014—$4.2 million in 2012; $5.75 million option with a $1 million buyout in 2013; and $8 million with a $1 million buyout in 2014—and is a proven big league commodity.

He’d be a Yankee for the long haul and he’d be a highly affordable horse at the top of the rotation if he’s healthy.

Barring a salary dump, you’re rarely going to get a pitcher of Jimenez’s caliber—in his prime and signed long term—if he’s pitching well for a contending team.

The Rockies are currently in playoff contention because of the watered down National League, but they’re in drastic flux with injuries and lineup holes; maybe they’d like to reload with multiple players while dropping a stick of dynamite in the clubhouse.

With the Red Sox suddenly playing up to their potential and the Yankees pitching issues, a Yankees playoff spot for 2011 is far from guaranteed regardless of the pompous rantings of Michael Kay and Mike Francesa; if they want to go for it now, they’re going to have to surrender some young talent for a deep strike.

Jimenez might be that deep strike.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here and recently received a 5-star review on Amazon.

No. I didn’t write the review.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

The Posey Film

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Giants catcher Buster Posey was injured in a home plate collision with Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins.

You can see the clip here.

The reactionary nature by some is so over-the-top, arrogant and self-interested that they’re bordering on parody.

We’re seeing said arrogance from the likes of Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated who evidently anointed himself the arbiter of propriety as he applauded Cousins on Twitter with the following:

cousins so broken up about injuring posey he couldnt sleep (via @joecapMarlins). very human reax. good to hear.#marlins, #SFGiants

And if Cousins said, “It was a clean play; I didn’t want to hurt him and I slept fine,” does that make him an evil entity worthy of public scorn?

Buster Olney wants to eliminate collisions (the solidarity of the Busters?); Posey’s agent had a conniption fit.

Analysis of the clip is reaching the level of the Zapruder Film of the Kennedy assassination with slow motion, freeze frames, measurements and discoveries of that which is not there. Cousins had a split-second to decide whether to run over the Posey or slide around him; Posey moved to the front of the plate to get the throw and while he wasn’t blocking the plate directly, he was close enough for Cousins to decide to run into him not for the sake of it, but because that was one of his two options.

The caste system of players is extending from off-field perks to on-field floating rules and regulations designed to “protect” the game’s stars. It’s as if Posey, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez are up here; Scott Cousins and lesser players are down there.

So had Cousins been the one to get injured, would there have been this call to outlaw collisions? Were there similar bouts of hand-wringing and whining when, in a 1996 collision with Johnny Damon, journeyman Chad Kreuter fractured and dislocated his shoulder and experienced internal bleeding in his stomach days later and nearly died?

Is it that it’s Posey—a star player, integral to the Giants success—that’s the catalyst for the sudden revulsion at home plate collisions? What would be said if Cousins tried to slide around Posey and broken his own leg? Would anyone care? Or if Cousins was tagged out clearly avoiding the contact, would anyone be saying, “why didn’t he run him over?”

This is similar to when one wonders why they decided to take one street over another and had an accident because of circumstance; there’s nothing that can be done about it and the attitude that because it’s Posey and not a lesser player is selective and somewhat pompous.

Nothing can be done to change it and any immediate response to reduce the risk of a home plate collision happening again will do more harm than good.

You can’t regulate a home plate collision any more than you can stop a hit by pitch or a torn hamstring running the bases.

MLB shouldn’t bend to the whimsical response to a player getting injured by outlawing home plate collisions. There’s no reason to outlaw them.

It was a clean play without any intent; it’s part of the game.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

The Pavanover II

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Brian Cashman tried to bring back the original Carl Pavano for a 1-year encore to his hellish Yankees tenure from the years 2005-2008, the majority of which was spent on the disabled list (and the beach; and in car accidents; and in the gossip columns; and looking for new agents; and as the foundation for endless, hilarious ridicule).

Pavano declined the Yankees offer, choosing instead to return to the Twins.

It was better for both parties. A Pavano redux had very little chance of succeeding in any context.

But the Yankees, in a weird way, did bring Pavano back.

They brought him back as Rafael Soriano.

When he was signed, there was an open fissure between the Yankees top-tier hierarchy of Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine vs the baseball people led by GM Brian Cashman.

In retrospect, Cashman may not have been being honest as an end unto itself when he said at the Soriano introductory press conference that he was not on-board with the signing of the reliever. The obvious excuse was that Cashman didn’t want to spend the money nor surrender the draft picks to the division rival Rays, but now that Soriano has been an absolute and utter disaster in every possible permutation—both on and off the field—it might’ve been that Cashman knew something from the gossipy world of MLB executives and on-field personnel that made him say, “let me distance myself from this right from the get-go”.

Defending the Yankees, there was never an allegation of Pavano being a malingerer before he was signed; he’d pitched well and durably for the two immediate seasons prior to inking his 4-year, $39.95 million deal; had the Yankees not signed him for that money, the Red Sox, Mariners or Tigers would have.

The Yankees acquisition of Pavano can’t even be called a “mistake” in the classic, second-guessing baseball world sense; it didn’t work for a multitude of reasons.

That said, a reuniting of Pavano and the Yankees this season would’ve been a ghastly mistake…but not in comparison to the pitcher they did sign, Soriano.

Was there a demand for Soriano? Would any club have given him more than 1-year or approached that guaranteed cash?

Soriano has behaved abominably going back to last season with the Rays when his attitude and clear looking toward future riches influenced his relentless whining and atrocious body language whenever Rays manager Joe Maddon either asked him to pitch more than one inning or enter a game in a non-save situation.

He was the epitome of what the Yankees tried to avoid in building their dynasty of the 1990s—the selfish player who was more interested in his paycheck than team goals.

Nor did it help that, throughout his career, Soriano has had a penchant for allowing home runs at the most inopportune times.

But the Yankees upper management, spurned by Cliff Lee and  concerned about the lack of action in a weak free agent class, chose to toss a portion of the money allocated for Lee at Soriano. The money isn’t as much of an issue as the public disagreement between ownership and the GM; that Cashman’s contract is up at the end of the year and he might have seen the Levine-executed public castration as the final boot out the door.

If Soriano pitched and pitched well, behaved like a “Yankee”, then all parties would’ve agreed to disagree and been happy that the signing worked.

But it hasn’t worked.

In fact, since he arrived, Soriano has exhibited diva-like behavior that would make Madonna blush.

He made his own schedule in spring training; had little to do with his new teammates and didn’t even put forth the effort to create clubhouse continuity; he avoided the media after a blown game; complained about not being accustomed to the set-up role (a role he held every year but the previous two and in 2009, he shared the closing job with Mike Gonzalez); he ripped the Yankees lineup and shunned any responsibility for himself and the job he’s supposed to be doing; now he’s hurt with elbow inflammation and out for at least 6-8 weeks—ESPN Story.

What makes matters worse is that I don’t get the impression from Soriano—given his behaviors present and past—that he’s all that bothered about being on the DL.

Whereas Pedro Feliciano is ready to do anything and everything to get back on the field, feels legitimately terrible about not living up to his contract and loves to pitch and compete, Soriano has his money and is on the disabled list.

His tone is one of satisfaction.

Will he work hard to get back?

Do his teammates even want him back?

In a weird way, this might be a blessing in disguise for the club and manager Joe Girardi; not only does Soriano taking up residence on the disabled list free the manager of having to use a struggling pitcher whose role was designated to be the “closer in the 8th inning”, but when and if Soriano gets back he won’t be automatically slotted into the 8th inning role (I would hope; this is Joe Girardi we’re talking about, so who knows?) simply because that was his “job”.

The signing has been a nightmare in every conceivable metric; now he’s out, probably won’t be around the team at all and won’t work all that hard to get back as quickly as possible.

In the short term, the disabled list’s gain may turn out to be the Yankees gain as well. How the usurping of Cashman’s authority, the money and the lost draft picks affect the Yankees future remains to be seen, but judging how it’s gone so far, the entire result is probably going to be terrible.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

****

Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

Paul Splittorff’s Yankees Connection Never To Be Broken

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Former Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff died today after a battle with cancer—KansasCity.com Story.

I vaguely remember Splittorff as a pitcher and what I do remember was 1983-84 when he was in the twilight of a good career.

When he was in his prime, he was a very tough and durable lefty; I’m sure you’ll get a better assessment of Splittorff from Bill James and Rob Neyer.

What sticks out in my mind about Splittorff comes from reading about the Yankees of the late-1970s amid the Reggie JacksonBilly Martin soap opera that was in its heyday during the entire 1977 season.

Martin and Jackson had a very public feud about a dozen things that season, but in the playoffs, Martin benched Jackson in game 5 of the ALCS because Jackson had gone 2 for 15 against the lefty Splittorff that season.

The Yankees won the game and advanced to and won the World Series over the Dodgers, but the back-and-forth continued into the Fall Classic as is seen here in this NY Times column (PDF Format).

Martin was, of course, picking on Reggie just for the sake of it and using random statistics to back up a ridiculous decision.

You don’t bench Reggie Jackson in the final game of a playoff series. It was a similarly irascible maneuver as the one Joe Torre pulled with Alex Rodriguez in the 2006 ALCS against the Tigers, but at least Torre didn’t go to the extent of benching A-Rod.

In truth, it wasn’t even a statistically sound call on the part of Martin.

Martin was the best game manager I’ve ever seen, but it’s an open secret as to what kept him from being truly great—the chip on his shoulder the size of Reggie’s ego; and his off-field self-destructiveness.

In a slight nod to Martin, Reggie’s replacement in right field, Paul Blair, ripped Splittorff to the tune of a .441 average for his career in 34 at bats with no power; Mickey Rivers and Cliff Johnson hammered Splittorff as well.

But if Martin wanted to adhere so stringently to stats, he should’ve realized that Blair was no longer the player he was with the Orioles; that Blair was little more than a defensive replacement for the Yankees at that point in his career and should not have been in the lineup of a playoff game instead of Reggie Jackson.

Here are Splittorff’s, er, splits against lefties for his career (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com):

I Split PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip tOPS+
vs LHB as LHP 2212 2020 229 509 63 23 31 138 241 .252 .303 .352 .655 711 .271 84
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

And here are Reggie’s numbers against Splittorff before 1977:

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG missYr
1971 5 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .600 .600 .600 1.200 0 0 0 0 0 0
1972 10 9 5 2 0 1 4 0 2 .556 .556 1.111 1.667 1 0 0 0 0 0
1973 17 16 3 0 0 0 0 1 5 .188 .235 .188 .423 0 0 0 0 0 0
1974 13 13 4 2 0 0 3 0 3 .308 .308 .462 .769 0 0 0 0 0 0
1975 16 15 2 1 0 0 1 1 2 .133 .188 .200 .388 0 0 0 0 1 0
RegSeason 61 58 17 5 0 1 8 2 12 .293 .317 .431 .748 1 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

Reggie hit Splittorff well enough to be in the lineup despite his poor showing in 1977; but Martin chose to be a bully against a player he reviled with the one thing he had left to use as a hammer—the lineup card.

Martin’s self-destructive nature naturally extended to the field; had he not won the World Series that year, his antics and treatment of Reggie would’ve been cause to fire him earlier than his first Yankees departure at mid-season 1978.

As you know, he returned again…and again…and again and never achieved the same lofty heights he did in 1977 when the Yankees won because of Reggie’s heroic World Series performance.

In addition to having a fine career as a player and broadcaster, Splittorff will forever be remembered as a pawn in the Reggie-Billy war; one of baseball’s epic battles between player and manager.

****

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Viewer Mail 5.25.2011

Books, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Norberto at NorbertoPaulino.blogspot writes RE the MLB Draft:

If you don’t like the draft there are more things you can focus on, like the Yankees-Posada saga or horrible pitching or what ever you want.

It’s not that I don’t like the draft; I don’t understand the sudden focus and attempt to make it into an NFL/NBA-style extravaganza and to sell the concept that it’s something that can be examined in a similar way.

I admire the work you put into your blog, but don’t think there’s much value in a “mock draft” for MLB; most drafted players are: A) not going to succeed in the big leagues to any significant degree if they make it at all; and B) unknown to a vast majority of even the most tuned-in fans.

Because of the absence of regularly televised college/HS games as there are in basketball and football, these players set to be drafted could be anyone; you can say anything about them and most fans won’t know the difference.

There’s more value in the scouting reports and comparisons to current recognizable players than formulating a meaningless mock draft.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the MLB Draft and Andrew McCutchen:

Sweet read! Some of these back stories were totally off my radar. The way MLB is trying to cash in on the production of the draft. I recall King Bud standing at the podium when MLBN aired it for the first time and all I could think about was how much of a joke the whole thing was. Then I quickly changed the channel.

You still think McCutchen is gonna be a superstar? I think he’s been overrated thus far. I mean, his numbers from last year were respectable, but not superstar-like by any means. Except for his HR numbers, this year he’s actually been worse.

I love how they have their regular MLB broadcasters/writers providing analysis like they know something about the players they’re discussing; they have a scouting directory they’re parroting and have no clue about the drafted players aside from what they read and are told.

I’m not saying this to denigrate the time people put into their mock drafts, but it’s a waste of time and energy.

Andrew McCutchen is a 24; can fly; has pop; can play good defense; has pop and style.

Yes, he’s going to be a superstar.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE Brian Cashman:

I think Cashman is done here. There is too much negativity on the horizon for the Yanks. They eventually have to put these legends to bed and there is no one coming up from the farm who will satisfy fans enough to forget the good times and their “heroes”. You already mentioned the thin free-agent outlook.

That leaves Randy Levine to destroy everything because I don’t think Cashman wants anything to do with him either. I honestly do not think Hal, Hank or Sis have the knowledge or gumption to fire Randy Levine (and at this point why would they – he hasn’t done anything wrong…, yet.) But I think he’ll be the one to make a total mess of the whole operation after Cashman. I see Levine hiring a yes-man as his new GM and redefining the meaning of spending Bad Money.

I’m not prepared to say Cashman will leave, but the overruling on Rafael Soriano was an eye-opener as to Cashman’s limits of autonomy. That he was right makes it worse.

I get the idea Levine takes to the style of his former boss Rudy Giuliani in wanting credit for things he had nothing to do with and frames the perception based on what he thinks looks good; he wants to be Larry Lucchino and he can’t.

The Soriano signing was one of desperation and if the Steinbrenners and Levine are left without the one dissenting voice for reactionary maneuvers, things will spiral. Fast.

The concept of winning year-after-year without a lull of any kind is a special kind of arrogance and will only exacerbate a full-fledged downfall as opposed to a couple of years of reloading before another run.

****

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Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

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.

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New Yorkered

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

Did you hear?

Mets owner Fred Wilpon allowed New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin insider access for a piece in the new issue—link—and the antics of the embattled owner have become fodder for more ridicule hurled at the organization.

This is on top of the Bernie Madoff mess; the on-and-off field player issues; and the attempt to sell a portion of the team while still maintaining control for the Wilpon family.

Dissected everywhere by voices credible and not, it would take far too much time to selectively retort to individual analysts. Some make salient and sensible points; others use this as ammunition to tear into the Mets and Wilpon.

This is a story because it’s a prominent piece in a reputable magazine; the Mets are always a target for abuse; and there are agenda-driven writers making it out to be more than it is.

Fred Wilpon has always been a yeller, but has shied away from actual interference in the club machinations; son Jeff was seen as the meddler, not Fred. His contribution has been signing the checks and getting his dream ballpark built. That he watches games and criticizes like a fan is unsurprising and no different from any involved owner who cares about his team.

Billy Beane was seen to have been tearing into his manager’s moves during the Moneyball fantasy and he was the hard-charger whose actions were evidence of the organizational boss who wanted things done his way; Wilpon does it and it’s more humiliation flung at the organization.

But Beane was considered an infallible genius; Wilpon a clueless fool.

It’s all about perception and framing.

For all the things that were published in the piece, we don’t know what else was said regarding Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran. Didn’t it occur to anyone that if Toobin was following Wilpon to the degree in which he was able to write a 12 page article on the Mets owner, that Wilpon probably said quite a bit more—much of it likely positive—than what was printed?

Could it be that Toobin and the editors of the New Yorker knew what the reaction would be? What the number of webhits would be? How many extra copies of their somewhat pompous magazine would sell to the Mets fanbase—a fanbase that is generally more blue collar and presumably isn’t a regular reader of the New Yorker?

The majority of the piece isn’t even about the Mets. It’s about Bernie Madoff; it’s about the way Fred accumulated his fortune; about his family and the reaction to the Madoff disaster.

Did anyone bother to read it or were they taking the same tack as Toobin, picking and choosing that which was more convenient to reach the end result of another tool to swing at the Mets?

It looks bad to have the criticisms against players in print, but in truth it won’t matter at all in the grand scheme; players are notoriously pragmatic when it comes to getting paid; if the money is there, then they’ll willingly sign with the Mets.

As for the statements about Beltran, Wright and Reyes, they were harsh to be sure, but were they inaccurate?

Carlos Beltran has been a loyal Met; he’s played hard and brilliantly, but he signed with the Mets for one reason: they offered the most money. And this was after he and agent Scott Boras tried to sell Beltran to the Yankees for fewer years and less money than what he got from the Mets.

David Wright is a terrific player, but is he a mega-star along the lines of Alex Rodriguez? Of Albert Pujols? No.

Reyes wants to make up for the signing of the far below market value contract he signed in August of 2006; a deal that precluded his arbitration years and cost him a lot of money; a deal he signed simultaneously to Wright signing his longer and more lucrative extension. Reyes is going to want “Carl Crawford money” as Fred said. If the Mets offer the highest amount of money, he’ll stay (if he’s not traded first); if not, he’ll leave.

The number of players who do as Cliff Lee did and go to the venue of their preference at the expense of money is very, very few and far between; Jim Thome did it as well, but these are veteran players who had either gotten paid already and were in the twilight of a great career (Thome), or were going to get their money one way or the other (Lee).

Reyes is not one of those players; he’s looking to cash in. All will be forgiven if there are enough zeroes on the check.

Fred has never openly meddled with the player moves as Jeff has been perceived to have done. It’s going to be up to GM Sandy Alderson and the money available whether the Mets offer is higher than other clubs pursuing Reyes and, given his history, Alderson isn’t going to take the money that’s coming off the books—Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, possibly Francisco Rodriguez, Beltran—and hand it all over to Reyes at the cost of 3-4 pieces that might provide more use to the club over the long term than one player.

The implication that Wilpon’s comments will scare off potential free agents or employees is ignoring both the past and present in terms of owner/player relationships.

George Steinbrenner was a raving maniac; a convicted felon; a twice suspended owner; a reviled and loathed madman for whom no one wanted to work—until he offered them enough money to look past his faults; beyond the rampant and repeated lunacy of the appropriately nicknamed Bronx Zoo. He got away with things because he spent cash and his teams won. Lo and behold, upon his death he turned into a “great man” rather than a capricious, mean and bullying force who embarrassed baseball and his club times too numerous to recount in a small space.

I don’t know if you can go through the list of sports owners and not find a vast percentage who were clownish and brutal in their treatment of underlings. Marge Schott; Jeffrey Loria; Ray Kroc; Tom Hicks; Peter Angelos; Drayton McLane; Vince Naimoli; Frank McCourt—all said and did things that created controversy and a media frenzy.

You can focus on their negatives or their positives based on whatever’s convenient.

Steinbrenner donated tons of money to charities and paid for the educations of the children of killed-in-action firefighters and police; Loria’s team wins under a minimalist budget; McLane’s teams were successful and his overruling his baseball people turned out to be right several times; Angelos’s teams were successful early in his ownership; McCourt’s teams have been a pitch or two away from back-to-back World Series appearances.

Had the Mets gotten one extra hit in 2006, 2007 and 2008 there was a legitimate possibility of three straight World Series appearances/wins.

How would that have altered the view of the Mets and their ownership?

Skilled writers who clearly had an agenda like Toobin can adjust stories to highlight points that will draw the most attention; the media-at-large can take that to establish or bolster their own personal biases and beliefs.

That’s what’s happening now.

It’s meaningless.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s a farce.

You can say the same about the Mets if you want, but it won’t be due to this article by Jeffrey Toobin or the over-the-top reactions to it.

****

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Me Too

Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, Players

The doctor who wanted and got media exposure for his treatment of Bartolo Colon with stem cells has come out and said that “10 pitchers” have contacted him wanting the same thing that Colon had.

I expect that the prior sentence—“the same thing Colon had”—was the terminology used with probably 2 or 3 concerned or even asking about the side effects, if any.

You can read about the doctor’s statement here on ESPN.com and the original Colon story when I briefly discussed it weeks ago here.

It’s part of the culture of “me too”; of wanting to do what the other guy is doing to hopefully achieve similar success.

This is understandable and a part of the culture of athletes going back forever; so too is it a window into how certain players wound up using steroids when they normally wouldn’t have done so.

As much as he’s reviled, Barry Bonds is one of those players.

Clean and brilliant throughout his career, Bonds had to sit by and watch far inferior players like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire get the accolades and money from using drugs; he could’ve carried on in his career hoping that one day the truth would come out if he wanted to play clean.

Or he could’ve joined them.

Bonds joined them.

It’s easy to attack Bonds now, but look at it from his position. He was better than the likes of McGwire and Sosa when all were supposedly clean; and once the playing field was level—with the drugs—he again proved he was better. Bonds is a pariah now, but all he was doing was what everyone else was doing; what baseball was complicit in allowing players to do for the self-serving agendas of everyone involved from MLB’s front office on down.

Colon’s treatment is public; the doctor is getting the attention he so desired, presumably a vast clientele and money; again baseball is far behind the curve as to whether or not the treatment falls into the guidelines of floating rules regarding what’s allowed and not.

Can MLB tell players not to get the treatment? And if the Players Association balks at such a decree, what then?

PEDs and controversial treatments will always be a part of any sport because the athletes and formulators of therapies and drugs will continually create new concoctions to circumnavigate the rules.

In certain cases, like Bonds, they make a hard choice.

If Colon hadn’t gotten the stem cell treatment, would he be pitching in the big leagues now?

It’s never going to stop.

Such is the case with Lance Armstrong and the accusations of doping to win the Tour de France.

If you click on the link and watch the 60 Minutes interview with Tyler Hamilton, you can draw your own conclusions. If you’re living in a romantic world where cover stories and crafted images are believed, take Armstrong at his word; if not, indulge in reality.

It’s your choice.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

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Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

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.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

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