Brandon Webb’s Flash Of Greatness

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

Brandon Webb‘s career may be over.

An examination of Webb’s surgically repaired right shoulder revealed “changes” to his rotator cuff and he’s weighing his options.

It doesn’t sound good.

Before the season, in my book, I said expect nothing on Webb; that he was no risk/massive reward; that they should be thrilled if they got 140 innings and competence at the back of the rotation.

They got nothing.

Webb could easily have won 3 straight Cy Young Awards from 2006-2008 with the Diamondbacks. He won the award in 2006 and finished second in the next two years.

He was one of the best pitchers in baseball, durable, tough and talented. He gobbled innings and was everything you’d want your ace to be. Despite all those innings, he was never stereotypically “abused”; never asked to throw an outrageous number of pitches (generally between 100-110).

There’s no smoking gun. Had he been babied a la Joba Chamberlain, would Webb have still gotten hurt—as Chamberlain did—without Webb’s success?

Or would he have stagnated in his development, not been as great as he was and gotten hurt before he could fulfill that potential that made him great for that short burst rather than healthy, but not as good over the long term?

Which is better? The paranoia and mediocrity or the freedom and greatness?

You can look at any number of great pitchers who flamed out after heavy usage. Dwight Gooden, Sandy Koufax, Steve Busby—if they’d been handled more cautiously, could they have had longer careers? Would the flashes of brilliance been less luminous?

There’s no answer.

Because we don’t know.

And apparently, with Webb, we never will.

//

Advertisements

Sunday Lightning 5.8.2011

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

Let’s go ’round the league.

Free passes for “abuse”.

I’ve always found it laughable that certain teams are given leeway for moves that would engender ridicule or outright abuse to others.

The Red Sox made the unusual decision to place Clay Buchholz back out on the mound after a rain delay of over 2 hours.

If it had been the Mets, Royals or any other frequent target of capricious attacks for the sake of it, there would be an uproar over this maneuver; because it’s the Red Sox—a team that supposedly has a statistical or logical reason for doing what they do—they’re given a pass other clubs aren’t.

It’s only fair I suppose.

There was never a clear correlation between the most notable rain delay decision/injury—the Marlins Josh Johnson being allowed back on the mound by Joe Girardi in 2006 and needing Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter—but Girardi was blamed by owner Jeffrey Loria for Johnson’s injury. The rain delay was an hour and 22 minutes.

To put it into greater context, if the Devil Rays had done something like this in 2007, they would’ve been roasted for cluelessness; if they did it in 2010, they knew what they were doing in ignoring statistical and paranoid dogma in handling their pitchers.

It was the same management team in place in 2007 and 2010.

The Red Sox have been deft in deflecting responsibility for deals or strategies that didn’t make any sense or betrayed their so-called statistical adherence.

But that comes from winning.

Win and you can do what you want. Critics don’t like it? Too bad.

Can we stop expecting anything from Chris Young now?

Chris Young of the Mets was scratched from his start against the Dodgers because he couldn’t get loose. He’s going to have an MRI on his shoulder on Sunday.

No kidding.

Young is a terrific pitcher when he’s healthy, but he’s never healthy. The expectations after he was signed and got off to such a notable start against the Phillies on the mound and at the plate weren’t unrealistic, they were deranged.

I’ll say it again: expect nothing, be happy for something.

As for replacement starter Dillon Gee, this is another case of a pitcher who’s doing well and is being judged based on results in his first time through the league. His stuff isn’t impressive, but he throws strikes. Greg Maddux got by with decent stuff, historic control, intelligence (and maybe a spitball) for years.

I’m not comparing Gee to Maddux, but that style of pitching can be effective.

That said, don’t jump on Gee’s bandwagon based on a few starts. Learn the lesson from Young. Diminished expectations limit disappointment and overreaction. If you corner the Mets front office and asked them point-blank if they’re surprised by Young’s frequent maladies, they’ll tell you no. And if you ask them what they’re expecting from Gee, they’ll shrug.

You should too.

Lance Berkman was and is a great hitter.

Why is there this shock at Lance Berkman’s MVP-quality start?

He’s not old (35); he was a great hitter for his whole Astros career; he had a subpar 2010 with a bad Astros team, impending free agency and was out of his element when traded to the Yankees. Now he’s back in his comfort zone in the NL Central with a good Cardinals team and solid lineup and he’s hitting again.

The only reason there’s a “wow” reaction to Berkman is that he was essentially a little-known star in the eye of the casual fan. The production went up every single year. Intelligent observers knew Berkman and knew that he was a low-cost/low-risk bat for the Cardinals to bolster their lineup.

That’s what he’s doing.

One bit of Viewer Mail:

Oilers21 writes RE me:

This might have had more impact had nearly the last half of the entry not been “buy my stuff!” “It’s here and here and here!” “Want my signature??!!” “Become a fan!!”””

I have a question: am I not supposed to promote my stuff?

Do you watch games on TV? Do you see the ubiquitous GEICO ads? The hawking of beer, personal-injury lawyers? Medications? Films?

Is that allowable to your delicate sensibilities? Maybe if I put a chick in a bikini, it’ll be more palatable.

Those who read me regularly have already bought the book and supported me and can bypass the daily links I provide to my books, discussion forum and other activities. Others may have wound up on the site after a linking and weren’t aware of my existence.

I would like people to purchase and read my stuff. You don’t want to? Don’t. And if you don’t like it, don’t read me at all.

It’s not very difficult.

****

Speaking of which…

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. It’s great reading even if you hate my guts. I bring the pain.

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.

//

Book Review: Joe DiMaggio, The Long Vigil By Jerome Charyn

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

Functioning in the insular world of self-mandated perfection not only in performance but in image made Joe DiMaggio into an icon and hero to millions.

The subject of song; the essence of manhood and historical context as he married Marilyn Monroe, he became the case study of aesthetic meeting substance and eventually was never being able to effectively meet to match the expectations of an adoring fan base.

Without the exposé-style and intentionally vicious tearing the face off of a legendary figure, Jerome Charyn presents the viable truth of an untouchable figure in Joe DiMaggio, The Long Vigil.

DiMaggio’s rabid—almost stifling—following stemmed from on-field performance and perception.

When his playing career was over, there was little for DiMaggio to do aside from maintain and cultivate that view—guarded with such historical ends and palatability—to make as much money as he possibly could.

So immersed in that countenance of a quiet man whose main lot in life was to be the best baseball player on the planet and one who would never sully his playing career by hanging on for a few years and extra dollars that the reluctance to fail extended to his life after baseball.

DiMaggio’s uncompromising on-field greatness led to a pursuit of trophies off the field; it was this desire for control that created the on-again/off-again romance with Monroe. He was a stalker; a shoulder to cry on; a conduit for Monroe to get her needs and wants fulfilled—power, fame and respect in the film industry.

She used him; he used her. His post-baseball life was that of a traveling sideshow, hungering for dollars and status while hopelessly and fruitlessly trying to corral that one thing he couldn’t tame—Marilyn Monroe.

Charyn objectively sifts through the Monroe-DiMaggio union while interweaving the DiMaggio playing career into the narrative as a means to explain how he and Monroe were drawn to one another and why it didn’t succeed.

The work is presented without the vitriol and feeding of controversy other DiMaggio biographies have cultivated.

The romance—stormy and short-lived when they were together—was such that she called him when Monroe needed his cachet to extricate her from self-created messes with Hollywood, politicians and her own demons of drugs, alcohol and mental instability; he needed her because she that which he could not bring under his spell long enough to contain her own growing legend.

DiMaggio’s near-pathological need to be the best player ever was transferred to off-field pursuits—Monroe was the most fantasized woman in the world, DiMaggio had to have her.

Without pretense and a clear underlying admiration and child-like love for what DiMaggio was, there’s no hint of disappointment in Charyn’s research and analysis; but a keen sense of relief that DiMaggio was neither the unassailable totem nor the cheap and miserable man who needed to accumulate money; the man who insisted upon the monicker of “Greatest Living Ballplayer” ; collector of baubles to memorialize him as something other than what he was.

While those lustful of the DiMaggio status will be shaken by Charyn’s book, it will not elicit the anger towards those that have sought to tear down the legend.

With every fly ball he chased down with loping strides and seeming ease, DiMaggio was also running from his humanity; it was as if by becoming this larger-than-life character, he could be immortal without the responsibility of being something other than what he was. With Monroe, he couldn’t hide from this reality that he couldn’t control everything that crossed his path.

Reduced to being the worshipper rather than the worshipped as he relentlessly insinuated himself into Monroe’s world, DiMaggio is humanized by Charyn while maintaining that aura of class, style and grace he carried in Yankees pinstripes.

DiMaggio’s existence following his baseball career can be viewed as pathetic. He had no desire to be a manager; a coach; a broadcaster (though he tried that for awhile); he worked for various companies and still some criticized him for shilling in an unseemly fashion. More was expected of him as a result of that invincibility and refusal to be anything other than the best for those who might never have seen him play before.

The mirror cracked.

Hangers-on, supplicants and public reverence prevented any and all abilities to assimilate to life after baseball. A decried relationship with longtime attorney Morris Engelberg is treated by Charyn as more than a leeching, moneymaking, control scheme from lawyer to client; Engelberg cared about DiMaggio and his legend despite his entreaties for DiMaggio to keep journals of his day that, when publicly revealed, showed a man who was notoriously petty and cheap; one who had little education and less to say about anyone and anything outside of his own self-involved realm.

DiMaggio’s unassailable skills, professionalism and desire extended from his playing career to his post-baseball life and he was never able to come to grips with an awkward clumsiness—even fear—that stemmed from absence of control.

Charyn’s biography shows the congruent yet divergent career arcs of two icons in American history. Monroe’s was on the upswing and she used DiMaggio as a means to her ends; DiMaggio, looking for a post-career diversion with another trophy.

Charyn’s portrayal is not so much a tearing the cover off of DiMaggio much as he was able to tear the cover off a baseball with his bat and catch up to it with his glove, but a way to make a symbol of the National Pastime into what he truly was and not who the myth-makers and sleaze merchants choose to present.

For those who were offended by the negatives in recent expository books regarding DiMaggio and those who look upon him as the consummate professional in uniform and polished entity who married the world’s most desired woman, this book is an evenhanded, well-written and even gentle presentation to understand that living up to a crafted plot is impossible and damaging to the individual who attempts it, thereby leaving an inevitably tragic end as DiMaggio’s life did—lonely and almost pitiful.

DiMaggio happened to be one of the best baseball players in the history of the sport and married Marilyn Monroe.

He was also flawed and sad regardless of those accomplishments.

He was a human being. No more; no less.

****

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

****

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.

//

Context Terrible

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

I saw the story about former Mets and Royals righty Brian Bannister‘s decision to retire from Japanese baseball and wondered why he would announce it in such a way.

The AP report on ESPN made it appear as if Bannister was terrified by the earthquake and tsunami last month and just bailed on the Yomiuri Giants because he didn’t want to deal with another natural catastrophe. It would be understandable if that were the case, but it’s hard to see a baseball player putting forth that image of fear when there was the built-in excuse (just provided by Gabe Gross, who also retired) that his heart’s no longer in doing everything necessary to play up to the level he needs to.

I thought it was odd.

Then I checked into the story a bit more and found this on the Japan Times site which clarifies the reason Bannister is retiring a bit better when it says: “Yomiuri right-hander Brian Bannister has voluntarily left the Giants organization, citing fears over the nuclear crisis facing the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11 earthquake in eastern Japan.”

Bannister has retired saying he doesn’t intend to pitch at all, but that’s neither her nor there.

The nuclear fear is a little more palatable than simply saying. “I’m outta here” after the earthquake. That one sentence regarding fear of nuclear contamination explained Bannister’s position in far more clarity than the out-of-context presentation on ESPN; it’s a concise lesson in the importance of full disclosure in writing a story.

****

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

****

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 Jeter Book

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

I’m not getting into a detailed analysis of something I haven’t read, but you have to understand that the new book by Ian O’Connor about Derek Jeter had to have a little more spice than the St. Derek image of consummate professional, winner and champion on the field/bon vivant, model and actress-dating playboy off the field to sell more than the perfunctory amount of copies that generally occur for a star biography.

“The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter” is discussed in this ESPN.com piece.

That the title sounds like a biblical tome more than a book about a baseball player might be a bigger aspect of the portable prison in which he resides than many realize.

Some of the headline-grabbing revelations suggest a continuing rift between Jeter and GM Brian Cashman after the contentious contract negotiations from last winter; that Alex Rodriguez and Jeter’s turf war escalated to crisis levels; and, unbeknownst to Cashman, former Yankees manager Joe Torre was his usual Machiavellian self in taking the side of Jeter rather than his GM and A-Rod.

Controversy sells. What’s been leaked by the publicists to the websites and newspapers (they work hand-in-hand you know) is designed to create a buzz that wouldn’t exist if this were simply the typical “play hard, respect your parents and your elders, keep true to your word and things will work out in whatever endeavor you choose” we’ve come to expect in any written piece about Jeter.

After the book is released and the context is fully revealed perhaps it can be a retrospective positive for Jeter and will free him from the shackles of being “Derek Jeter” the character—the public face that was the catalyst for the uproar last season when he was lambasted for “cheating” when he acted as if he’d gotten hit by a pitch against the Rays when he hadn’t.

The expectations for Jeter have become so stifling that he can’t jaywalk without it becoming a media circus.

If the book allows him to be Derek the man and forces the participants to hash out their differences, they’ll thank O’Connor for writing it. Jeter is admirable and flawed. His caricature is such that no one, nowhere could possibly live up to it. He’s in a cage. Maybe O’Connor’s book will—unintentionally—be his key to act like a person rather than an untouchable, deified idol.

****

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

****

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 Birds Crash Into Reality—Hard

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

All this hatred towards Kevin Gregg is misdirected.

He’s not any good.

It’s not his fault.

And it’s not as if anything more should’ve been expected of him. He’s wild and gives up too many hits and homers—totally unreliable as a closer.

Much like Gregg, I’m not sure why people believed that the mere presence of Buck Showalter would overcome youth on the pitching staff and an overwhelming sense of mediocrity for much of the roster.

The Orioles went 34-23 under Showalter after he took over last season; they got off to a 6-1 start this season.

All of a sudden, the Orioles were rising, rising, rising like a soaring bird freed from its cage…until reality set in.

Having beaten up on the slow-starting Rays and Tigers to begin the season, they then ran into the Rangers who won 2 of 3; then came the Yankees who swept a rain-shortened 2-game series (in which Gregg gacked up a lead with a towering bomb allowed to Jorge Posada); and the Indians (another team for whom reality will be cruel)  battered them in 3-game sweep.

Last night, the sliding Twins came to town and beat the Orioles too as Gregg turned a manageable 3-2 score into a 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning. The Orioles scored a run in the bottom if the ninth to make it 5-3.

Overall they’ve lost 8 in a row and no amount of Showalter attention to detail is going to gloss over the truth that they’re still rebuilding and in a nightmarish division with four teams that are far better than they are.

Thos who express their love for Showalter and lament having “missed out” on an opportunity to get a difference-making manager for their teams are failing to grasp an important point—no matter how good the manager is, he has to have players.

The Orioles don’t have the players, therefore they’re not going to be good.

They’re proving that right now.

****

I’ll be hosting a discussion group on TheCopia.com shortly. The discussion will be baseball. My statements will be strong. And if no one joins in, I’ll just talk to myself.

****

Purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide. It’s useful all year long.

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.

//

Lines Of Office

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

I repeatedly tried to assuage the fears of Braves fans that Fredi Gonzalez was a strategically poor manager who got the job to replace Bobby Cox based on Braves ties and his reputation as a man who controlled the clubhouse.

He did some strange things as manager of the Marlins, but his teams were always competitive and—apart from Hanley Ramirez—played the game hard and correctly.

But 17 games into his first season as the Braves manager, Gonzalez is inviting legitimate bewilderment into his decisions. Not only is he backtracking on his statements that implied he was sticking with his choices for the time being as was the case with Jason Heyward batting sixth (he’s now batting second); but he’s also vacillated on the spring training pronouncement that both Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel would be used as the designated closer based on matchups. It’s been Kimbrel, period.

Sunday’s game against the Mets was a case study in managerial idiocy that cost the Braves a win against a reeling and desperate club that resorted to using starting pitchers Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey in relief to try and snap a 7-game losing streak.

In the second inning trailing 2-1, Gonzalez called for a suicide squeeze with Tommy Hanson at the plate, 2 strikes, 1 out and Eric Hinske on third. Hanson can’t hit; nor can he bunt. Hinske can’t run. It made absolutely no sense especially with Mets-killer Martin Prado on deck.

In the eighth inning, Brian McCann got picked off first base on a failed steal attempt with Hinske at the plate and Jason Isringhausen on the mound. Heyward had drilled Isringhausen’s first pitch over the center field fence; McCann had walked. With one out, the call was ludicrous with Hinske at the plate and Chipper Jones on deck.

The Braves fans who thought Gonzalez’s penchant for “doing stuff”—a common frailty among managers—was a recipe for disaster are seeing their nightmare come to life.

With a team this talented, presumably the manager’s game-costing decisions will be muted by sheer ability; but if the Wild Card/division comes down to one or two games, Gonzalez’s missteps could cost the Braves a playoff spot.

One unknown is where GM Frank Wren stands in all of this.

Does he question his manager—as is his right—after a gaffe-laden adventure like Sunday afternoon? Or does he let it go, confident that things will work out in the end?

If I were the GM, I’d be all over my manager for any decision I saw as questionable. It’s not out of line for the baseball boss of the organization to ask his field manager why he did what he did. There are the Tony La Russa-types who chafe at having their judgment and lines of office being crossed; they have a “how dare you?” reaction when questioned, but that shouldn’t preclude the GM from doing his job regardless of poor body language and short-tempered reactions from the manager.

It’s within the GM’s job description to oversee his manager. It’s not in the vein of a Moneyball-style middle-manager who takes orders, but an honest discussion between people who have to work together to make sure things run smoothly.

Did Wren step in with Heyward batting second? Possibly.

Did he question Gonzalez as to why he didn’t tell Hanson to stand there with the bat on his shoulder and wait to strike out to give Prado a chance to drive in runs? Why he had McCann stealing a base?

If he didn’t, he could’ve.

And should’ve.

****

I’ll be hosting a discussion group on TheCopia.com starting this afternoon around 12:30-1:00 Eastern Time. Given my history of saying lots of stuff, it should be….interesting.

****

Purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide. It’s great for your fantasy baseball stuff all year long.

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.

//

Viewer Mail 4.18.2011

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

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the commenter who called me an idiot and my retort:

I can hear this dude sizzlin’ and fizzlin’ after that beatdown…

He never got back to me. Strange.

Fart (for real) writes RE Curt Schilling‘s Hall of Fame candidacy:

Check out Schilling’s Twitter, 3/20/2011: “Do I think I am a HOF? No.”
He’s not going to whine like Blyleven did. Smart move that might work in his favor.

He certainly ain’t getting in first ballot – those regular season stats are just sad for a HOF candidate. Nice WHIP and K/BB, and 3000 K’s, but Blyleven had all of that and more, and needed 14 ballots to get in. Then 2014-15 are loaded with sure things like Pedro, Johnson, Maddux, Glavine. Schilling may be the pitching version of Mr. October, and I say he gets in eventually, but he’s going to have to wait in line. Still, based on the tweet above, I expect him to keep his trap shut about it.

I think Schilling’s using reverse psychology trying to be Mr. Humility and appear as if he’s this common man who was pleased to have his opportunity to do his job—a job that happened to be in the spotlight.

It’s the Joe the Plumber fallacy.

One thing that has to be accounted for is his success in the steroid era; that’s something Bert Blyleven didn’t have to deal with. Blyleven was suffering from the perceptive indifference that voters had toward his mediocre record; the prevalence of statistics, a well-presented case for his enshrinement and a grass-roots movement got him in.

Schilling’s silence/openness about the voting may depend on how close he gets on the first couple of ballots. If he’s an “eventual” candidate who gets enough votes to foretell a groundswell of support growing incrementally until he’s inducted after 6 or so years, then he’ll be quiet. If he gets 40% of the vote the first year and it dwindles, he’ll start squawking. Loudly.

Norm writes RE the Mets:

I realize it’s somewhat unfair and cliched to pile on Alderson and his exec assistants at this juncture, but this whole thing is beginning to smell as bad as I feared it would.
The picking up of Emaus is symptomatic. Not that he is necessarily a bad player,or that he wasn’t worthy of a Rule 5 pickup. Just that it is a bad sign for JP to pick up a player he scouted and probably signed as a Blue Jay GM: I know this happens all the time, but it’s indicative to me of a lazy GM who ‘knows’ his ‘own’ players better than he does players from other teams and organizations. Add it to the genuine unease I feel at Alderson’s smarminess (although I loved the battle of pomposity between him and Francesa) and his pointless hiring of two ex GMs to, in essence, pick up players from scrap heaps (as the team has no money to sign or trade for expensive players) and I feel that we are in an Isiah as GM situation.

The Mets had a choice: either get aggressive and do what they did under the prior three GMs—something ridiculous like offer $200 million for Cliff Lee; or wait out the bad contracts, look for bargains and start rebuilding the organization from the bottom up.

They were smart to do the latter.

Brad Emaus‘s numbers in the minors are excellent; the Mets don’t have a second baseman; he’s worth a legitimate look instead of the reactionary, “two weeks and begone”. It’s understandable for scouts/executives to cling to players they believe in. Sometimes it works out.

I’m no basketball guy, but you can’t compare Sandy Alderson to Isiah Thomas. Thomas had no success whatsoever anywhere as an executive in any capacity; Alderson has had success and, at the very least, has a plan.

I was a frequent critic of J.P. Ricciardi as a GM even though I thought he was better than people suggested; Paul DePodesta was an atrocious GM, but he’s shown his attributes as an assistant with the Padres and Athletics.

Because someone failed as the boss doesn’t mean they have no discernible use.

The Mets weren’t going to be good this year regardless of expectations, hopes, and fantasy. It’s a bridge year where the barn will be cleaned out of rats and excrement. No more, no less.

Max Stevens writes RE the Mets and the doubleheader loss to the Rockies:

How much longer do you think it will be before Terry Collins‘ head explodes?  I suffered through both games of that doubleheader yesterday and felt really envious of the Rockies.  They execute.  They don’t make mental errors.  They come to play every night.  They battle back.  They’re everything the Mets are not.  I understand that they simply have much more talent on their roster right now than we do, but the Mets just don’t look prepared.  I thought Collins was all about preparation and “playing the game the right way.”  And those stands at Bailout Park looked really empty.  It reminded me of going to games at Shea in the late 70s when there were maybe 3000 people in the ballpark and you could hear the players talking to each other on the field.  Let the rebuilding begin sooner rather than later…

Collins, like Alderson and his people, isn’t stupid. He knows what the talent level is; of course that doesn’t preclude them from playing the game correctly—and there’s no excuse for not being able to throw the ball pitcher to catcher; screwing it up twice was unconscionable. Fundamentals have to be established from the bottom up.

Every team has their gaffes and the Mets have the penchant for making other teams look good. The Rockies are well-schooled and run by Jim Tracy, but it wasn’t long ago that they were dysfunctional and staggering with Clint Hurdle fired and GM Dan O’Dowd in the final year of his contract. Had they not caught fire when Tracy took over, O’Dowd would’ve been gone after the 2009 season.

This panic is misplaced. The Mets are what they are. They’re essentially starting over; to think that the new regime would walk through the door and have everyone playing the game correctly immediately was a classic overreach of change being the cure-all. It’s not.

They’ll have to suffer this season and regain the trust of the fan base. There’s no other way.

****

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 Ticking Of The Clock

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

While Freddy Garcia‘s start yesterday was indeed impressive, expectations for what both he and Bartolo Colon are going to provide for the Yankees must be tempered.

Signed as “why not?” veterans from whom the club hoped to find depth and possibly some use, the two pitchers have been thrust into prominent roles out of unforeseen necessity. With Phil Hughes on the disabled list with “dead arm” and no predictable outcome for his Larry Rothschild-prescribed “treatment” of Long Toss with Larry; Ivan Nova a rookie who’s struggled of late; and the still questionable A.J. Burnett rounding out the rotation led by CC Sabathia, Garcia was a welcome respite from continuously porous starting pitching. Colon has been excellent out of the bullpen.

But if you’re expecting these two elder statesmen to maintain this level of work and drink from the fountain of baseball youth for the rest of the season, you’re in for a rude blast of reality sooner rather than later.

Garcia’s about to turn 36; Colon 38, you’re asking a lot from two pitchers who are hanging onto the last few moments of distinguished—occasionally brilliant—careers.

The media expressed lustful appreciation (amid desperate hopes) that Garcia’s performance yesterday was something to build upon, but you have to see what Garcia has become and understand that it was likely an aberration.

He relied on his control and breaking pitches and spotted his fastball while using it sparingly. He has no velocity and while that was a problem for Hughes because Hughes isn’t yet capable of getting by with a diminished fastball, it wasn’t such an issue for Garcia who hasn’t had a fastball since 2006.

The hitters are going to catch up to Garcia.

It’s inevitable.

When he doesn’t have his control, he’s going to get blasted. Much was made of his 12-6 record with the White Sox last season; what he lacks for in stuff, he can make up for in intelligence and courage…to a point.

Here are the facts: he gives up a lot of hits and homers; the Yankees can score enough to account for Garcia giving up 5 or so runs per nine innings, but there will be games in which he’s gone by the third inning and the implied simplification notwithstanding, it’s not as easy as Garcia made it look yesterday.

Knowingly critical retrospective shots aimed at Hughes for not being able to do what Garcia did are unfair and inaccurate. When Garcia next pitches, don’t be surprised to see him  gone by the second inning and along with him will go the “easy” and “crafty” stories of what he did against the Rangers.

Colon hasn’t been a full-time big league starter since 2005; he’s been a lifesaver in relief this season; he’s quieted games down and allowed the Yankees time to mount comebacks. This is not unimportant, but it’s no harbinger of long term viability.

It’s early in the season; veteran players are fresh and healthy; the days of players in their mid-to-late 30s being able to maintain for the duration of the season are long gone. There are no more amphetamines or PEDs aside from the possible use of growth hormone to assist these players for sustainability. All they have is Red Bull-style stimulants and coffee.

Will that be enough for the past-their-prime Colon and Garcia to fill the gaping holes in the Yankees rotation?

Naturally, GM Brian Cashman will be scouring the universe for starting pitching help as the summer draws near; but teams aren’t going to be in a rush to help the Yankees and the deals that will be out there might be contingent of which of the hot young prospects the Yankees are willing to trade.

Not only will Garcia and Colon not be able to hold down the back-of-the-rotation spots into heavy trading season, but I can’t see them being effective past May, if that.

And I don’t care if Garcia put on a pitching clinic; if Colon has looked like his old self. It’s not going to continue. Because it can’t.

****

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.

//

Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong

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

Given the current events, it’s ironic that the title of this posting and its creation emanates from spin doctoring. A hit song from a mediocre band, The Spin Doctors, around 20 years ago was called “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”.

And it fits for Yankees GM Brian Cashman as he twists himself into a pretzel that’s worthy of an Olympic gymnast or triple-jointed circus freak.

Pedro Feliciano is out for the year with a shoulder injury and probable surgery; in fact, he may never pitch for the Yankees at all after signing a 2-year, $8 million contract.

First Cashman blamed the Mets and their “abuse” of Feliciano; then, yesterday when discussing the injury, he began his verbal gymnastics that are so ludicrous and self-serving that they’re bordering on embarrassing.

The Yankees and Mets had a brief spitting contest that made the Yankees look foolish and self-indulgent as they engaged in a bit of buyer’s remorse after Feliciano went on the disabled list.

In the rarest of rarities, the Mets looked smarter than the Yankees; in a nod to the new organizational hierarchy led by Sandy Alderson, the Mets are no longer taking these attacks without retort. They stood up for themselves as pitching coach Dan Warthen said straight out that part of the reason the Mets didn’t re-sign Feliciano was due to workload issues.

Does Cashman, in all his cautious phrasings and clever corporate machinations, not realize that the statement “no evidence of a capsular tear whatsoever,” is as much a direct indictment of his own club’s operations as the silly and specious retrospective blame he placed on the Mets?

Does Cashman not see the logical trap he stepped in yesterday? If Feliciano was healthy when he signed with the Yankees, the Mets can justifiably say, “Hey, he was fine with us; what’d you do to him?”

Cashman looked foolish.

Of course the workload may have been a factor in Feliciano’s injury, but we don’t know. He was fine when he signed; now he’s not.

Cashman, sensitive to the allegations of hypocrisy due to the overuse former manager Joe Torre inflicted on the likes of Scott Proctor among others, went into a backtracking exercise of inanity—ESPN Story.

The statements are ridiculous on so many levels. First he’s running from having laid the label on the Mets and fundamentally blamed them for Feliciano’s injury; then he’s saying he covered his bases with the relievers telling them to speak up if they couldn’t pitch; he holds Torre responsible for the perception of disinterest in the health of the pitchers’ arms; then he implies that such a problem is no longer a factor with the Yankees because Joe Girardi is the manager.

Read between the lines.

With Feliciano, he needed someone to hold accountable for possibly tossing $8 million into a shredder. Who better than the reeling Mets?

Concerning Torre, Cashman claims that he was involved by telling the pitchers to be honest with their old-school manager; a manager who had the personality and history of success to stand up to his GM and wasn’t afraid to do so.

And with Girardi, he’s saying he now has a manager who’s going to do what he’s told.

Cashman needs to stop.

Just walk away.

It’s enough.

The bottom line is this: If he thought Feliciano was abused, he shouldn’t have signed him. Period.

Cashman needs to find a mirror that wasn’t salvaged from a funhouse.

The Yankees bought it. The Yankees own it. The Yankees are paying for it. Accept it and move on.

****

Purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide. It’ll be useful all season for your fantasy sports needs and pure entertainment.

I published a full excerpt of my book here. It’s about the Mets and it’s coming true as we speak. Right on the money and it ain’t too funny.

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.

//