MLB Opening Week Madhouse

All Star Game, Ballparks, Books, CBA, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, Movies, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2012 Baseball Guide, PEDs, Players, Playoffs, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, Umpires, World Series

Let’s recap the lunacy of the first half-week of the 2012 season, disorder by disorder; mental issue by mental issue.

Mariano Rivera blew a save on opening day leading to speculation that he may need a replacement; the YES Network, appealing to its enabled and spoiled constituency of Yankees’ fans, assuaged the fears of their viewership by showing clips of Rivera blowing April saves in seasons past.

Of course there’s no connection between the two, but the same people who are consoled by this are the ones who think Rivera is finished after one bad game.

Yoenis Cespedes displayed awesome power with home runs of ludicrous distance thereby “validating” his signing by the moribund Athletics.

The Red Sox staggered out of the gate looking identical to the team from last September that blew their playoff spot and led to a mass exodus in their braintrust and odd personnel moves.

And Fredi Gonzalez is already under attack because of his bullpen maneuverings.

Yah. After what? 2 games?

Here’s reality.

Rivera:

If you’re actually concerned about Rivera based on one game, then you’re either overindulged; delusional; a plain moron; or all three.

If his velocity was down; if he was laboring; if he looked hurt then it’s cause for concern.

He blew one game.

Get over it.

Rivera already did.

Cespedes:

How many players have burst onto the scene with a flourish only to falter and need to be sent down? He’s an entirely new entity, completely unknown so far. Teams are testing him by throwing him fastballs to see where they should pitch him because the information available on him is limited to propaganda films by his representatives and poorly masqueraded lust for Billy Beane to defend his fictional persona of a “genius”.

Carlos Delgado hit 8 home runs in the first 15 games for the world champion Blue Jays in 1994, was in the minors by June and didn’t make it back to the big leagues full time until 1996.

Calm down with young players getting off to blazing starts.

The Red Sox:

It’s deuces wild. They’ve lost their first two games and Josh Beckett allowed two homers each to two of the the best hitters in baseball, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. It’s not a reflection of September nor is it something about which to overreact.

What would concern me more was Bobby Valentine’s strange bullpen calls on opening day and that he doesn’t appear to trust his players. The over-the-top reaction from fans and media doesn’t have as much to do with the poor start, the perceived organizational disarray or September of 2011; it has more to do with the acceptance/realization that this Red Sox team simply isn’t particularly good.

F-F-Fredi and the Braves:

Gonzalez won’t be able to win until he gets fired.

He got roasted a year ago because he overused key members of his bullpen to their detriment and came home to roost late in the season during the Braves’ September swoon.

Now he makes the choice not to overuse the same pitchers, inserts Livan Hernandez and Chad Durbin and it backfires. Because of that he has to hear from the armchair experts on social media unloading on him again.

How do you argue with a monolith of “experts” who have no accountability and maintain the mentality that if you were right about a particular decision they don’t agree with, you were lucky; if it fails, then you’re a fool?

How do you counter that?

If Hernandez had coaxed a pop up; if Durbin had gotten a ground ball, would they still have been “wrong” decisions? Or would Gonzalez have been lucky?

What’s most grating is that the same people who are on the constant tangent about negligible strategic decisions are the ones who defend the Red Sox 2003 bullpen-by-committee as “gutsy”, “innovative” and “revolutionary” for no reason other than they agreed with it!! In essence, it was a viable defense to have a bad bullpen because the Red Sox front office was populated by individuals from the same school of thought that creates this dynamic of nitpicking on tiny decisions over the course of a game and season that can go either way based on fortune, good and bad.

That “logic” has been evident with the Mariners under Jack Zduriencik and is happening now with the Astros and Jeff Luhnow.

Failure is justified by noble intent, but in a results-oriented theory, isn’t the result more important than the process?

I don’t particularly believe that; I want my managers and coaches to have an explainable reason for what they do and if they have that, I can live with their decisions.

I don’t think Gonzalez is a good manager, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win; that his calls won’t work. Ron Washington is no better a manager than Gonzalez and has won consecutive American League pennants.

Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

But that’s not the prevailing viewpoint in the world of social media. It has to stop and will only stop if you stop indulging in it.

Or at least put it in its proper context.

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Sith Lord Saturday 2.26.2011

Free Agents, Media, Spring Training

You’ve heard of Sunday Lightning, well then welcome to Sith Lord Saturday—to be utilized when there’s a load of stuff to address on a Saturday.

  • The Mets, Madoff, MLB and money:

The Mets are starting to look like something out of The Producers.

Is it possible that the annual screw-ups are a matter of design? That the way the club is spiraling into the depths—first on the field and now off—is part of some grand scheme hatched by an amoral puppeteer?

No. It’s not me.

I say it’s probably not a plot. They mean well but aren’t that clever.

The latest in the Mets-Bernie Madoff saga is that the club received what amounts to being a “bridge loan” for liquidity in November; the loan, $25 million, was provided by MLB itself and was not revealed until yesterday—NY Times Story.

This story is ever-evolving and doesn’t have a clear end in sight in time or result. I’m not convinced that the Wilpons won’t be able to wriggle their way out of it; much depends, of course, on how long the lawsuit drags and whether or not it can be settled; the easy answer—that I too have been saying—is that they’ll have no choice but to sell the team.

Just yesterday I suggested that the reluctance to sell now is due, in part, to not wanting to have the profit that would accompany such a full blown sale left sitting there for the plaintiffs to take immediately.

But the more I think about it, the less appropriate is for a still-developing story to be analyzed on the fly.

People have criticized Mike Francesa for his attempts to clarify the saga by speaking to experts and taking calls from people with knowledge of the law, stocks and banking. After the first few days of the usual Francesa self-proclaimed expertise, he showed deference and admitted that he doesn’t know much about this as he tried to sift through the information he was getting.

That’s the point.

We only have bits and pieces of information and there are very few people with the breadth of knowledge and experience to interpret what’s happening to come to a reasonable and well-thought-out conclusion.

It’s all chatter now. Small, isolated jagged shards of information that, left alone, don’t tell the whole tale. But that’s all we’re getting.

It’s irresponsible for people to be predicting a sale; a bankruptcy; or vindication when few know or comprehend the scope of the situation.

We won’t know until we know. It has to play itself out completely.

  • In Brown we do not trust:

I’m not sure why the Phillies didn’t take a chance on Manny Ramirez.

They clearly don’t trust Domonic Brown as their everyday right fielder and are looking for a competent, “just-in-case” veteran who can play right. They looked into Jeff Francoeur before he signed with the Royals; and have asked the Nationals about Mike Morse.

Morse would be a fine pickup for the Phillies—a Jayson Werth-type gamble of a player who’s never gotten a chance—if the Nats are dealing him.

I doubt they will. The Nats offense is weak and I sense that Werth will be playing a lot of center this season with Morse in right to boost the offense.

The Phillies have a tendency to make absolutely sure their in-house products are ready before letting them play full time in the big leagues. They did so with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and J.A. Happ—all three of whom could’ve been productive big leaguers before they got the chance.

In fairness to the Howard situation, his way was blocked by Jim Thome and they had nowhere to put him.

The others were held back until their mid-20s.

You can’t argue with the Phillies development apparatus, but Brown is the one player they refused to trade in the flurry of deals for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, et, al. They can’t give him a legitimate chance to play?

One could argue that the decision to hold said players back is financial; that they want to get full production from them in their prime years before having to pay them big money. You could blow the financial sanity argument away by looking at the lunatic contract they gave to Howard to preclude his free agency.

I can’t escape the fact that the Phillies are looking for a right field bat; that Manny signed for nothing with the Rays; Charlie Manuel was a father-figure to Manny; in the Phillies offense, he’d be an ancillary piece; and in the ballpark, he’d hit his homers.

They put up with Werth’s attitude, could Manny have been much worse?

  • Slow and steady editing; thinking before hitting publish:

Some people shouldn’t indulge in stream-of-consciousness reactions before commenting.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated is one such person.

He appears to have deleted the tweets, but I know he said them because I saw them and commented on them as they happened. It’s not a big deal, but Heyman said something to the tune of the Indians were making nice under-the-radar signings to improve.

Chad Durbin and Orlando Cabrera might be nice signings for a team like the Yankees as veterans to bolster to the current roster, but the Indians?

At risk of betraying the mysteryyyy of my upcoming book, the signings of Durbin and Cabrera are likely to spur the Indians from a record of 67-95 to a record of….67-95.

The Indians could be slightly better than that if a vast array of “ifs” come to pass.

If Travis Hafner stays healthy…

If Grady Sizemore recovers from micro-fracture surgery…

If Carlos Santana develops into the Victor Martinez-type hitter he’s shown minor league evidence of being…

If Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson show anything as starters behind Fausto Carmona

If Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta hit…

If, if, if…

These tweets were following the criticism of Luis Castillo for not showing up to Mets camp early; then Heyman made snide comments about being “sick” of Castillo and that the club should release him and sign David Eckstein.

Thanks for the input and idiocy after: A) Castillo wasn’t required to arrive early; and B) the player’s brother was having surgery.

There are clever analytical responses that are inherent to credibility—this is required for an outlet like Twitter.

Heyman’s missing it.

There’s being witty without being mean.

He’s missing that too.

Not only is he weak (he blocked me on said apparatus known as Twitter—literally for nothing other than pointing out that he’s got no sense of humor); and he’s somewhat vicious in a wimpy, passive-aggressive sort of way.

It’s not a positive trait to have especially if he can dish it out and not take it.