Billy Beane’s House of Lies and Simplified Math

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Another defense of Billy Beane and his “strategy” for 2012 is presented by Richard Justice MLB.com—link.

Let’s deal in facts, shall we?

Here are the players the Athletics have acquired this winter and their 2012 salaries:

Seth Smith: $2.415 million.

Bartolo Colon: $2 million.

This is a total of $4.415 million for two exceedingly mediocre “name” new additions.

Here are the departures:

Trevor Cahill: $3.5 million (guaranteed through 2015 at $29 million with options in 2016 and 2017).

Gio Gonzalez: $3.25 million (arbitration eligible for the first time).

Craig Breslow: filed for arbitration and asked for $2.1 million; was offered $1.5 million.

Andrew Bailey: arbitration eligible for the first time; figure a contract of $1.5 million.

David DeJesus: $4.25 million (2-years, $10 million guaranteed from the Cubs).

Josh Willingham: $7 million (3-years, $21 million guaranteed from the Twins).

Hideki Matsui: was paid $4.25 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

Michael Wuertz: was paid $2.8 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

Rich Harden: was paid $1.5 million in 2011 and is unsigned for 2012.

All for a total of $29.85 million based on what they’re guaranteed for 2012 or what they were paid in 2011.

These are the raises for players they’ve kept:

Kurt Suzuki: $1.6 million.

Coco Crisp: $250,000.

Brandon McCarthy: $3.275 million.

Grant Balfour: $25,000.

Brett Anderson: $2 million.

Daric Barton: $675,000

Joey Devine: $180,000

Adam Rosales: $175,000

That’s a total of $8.18 million.

Adding $8.18 million+$4.415=$12.33 million.

Subtracting $12.33 million from $29.85 million comes to $17.52 million.

So from a payroll of $55 million in 2011, the A’s have slashed a total of $17.52 million.

Justice writes:

When (Beane) looked at the A’s after the 2011 season, he saw a third-place club that had neither the payroll nor the Minor League talent to make a dramatic improvement. He had $51 million in contract commitments for 2012 and a $55 million budget even before attempting to re-sign his starting outfield of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp (only Crisp will be back).

“I had to look at it honestly,” he said. “Look at the moves the Angels and Rangers have made. They’re going to have payrolls rivaling the Red Sox and Yankees. It just seemed foolish to go forward with a third-place team that was losing significant parts. We felt we had to do something dramatic.”

“Honestly”? Beane uses the word “honestly”?

Where is he getting these numbers from?

They could’ve dumped Crisp’s $5.75 million and found another, cheaper center fielder somewhere who would do pretty much the same things Crisp does. Or they could’ve just stuck Josh Reddick out there and given him the chance to play every day. What did they need Crisp for?

McCarthy just had his first season of moderate health after bouncing from the White Sox to the Rangers and having repeated shoulder problems—which also cost him eight starts in 2011—and failing as a top prospect. The only way the Athletics were able to sign him was because he was short of options for a rotation spot. He’s their new ace?

Someone would take Balfour and his fastball.

Barton was acquired in the Mark Mulder trade (one of the prior teardowns) and Beane clings to him as if he’s hoping against hope that someday he’ll fulfill that potential.

The mischaracterizations and fabrications inherent in Moneyball—the book and the movie—are continuing unabated and unchallenged. Replete with salable buzzwords implying the same party line for his constituency, it goes on and on.

There’s a separation from rebuilding and collecting prospects and ratcheting up the rhetoric to maintain the veneer of knowing what one’s doing, having a plan and executing it.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

Lies.

Fabrications.

Political-style calculations.

And the masses are still buying it.

Under no circumstances am I questioning the prospects nor the basis for making the trades of Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. We don’t know about the players he received and won’t know for awhile.

That’s not the point.

The point is that he’s spewing the same garbage he’s been spewing for years in a self-interested, self-absolving manner to shun the responsibility for the failures of the teams he built.

They’ve failed to meet expectations when they were supposed to contend and now they’re going to meet expectations by falling to 95 losses.

But it’s not Billy’s fault.

I don’t want to be sold something by a clever marketer/con-artist who’s still clutching and using this nonsensical and faulty biography.

Beane’s become a “means to an end” executive and that end is to hold onto that aura of “genius” that was created by Moneyball. There are still those that believe it and take his word for why he does what he does—they don’t bother to check.

Is it because they trust him? That they want to protect him? Or is it because they’re afraid of what they might find if they dig for facts?

The A’s are going to have a lower payroll and they’re going to be much worse than they could’ve been with worse players than they had because of this “strategy” that is played up in the latest piece about Beane.

When does this stop?

When will the true objective reality be examined and cited?

When?

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Billy Beane Returns To The Moneyball Basics…

All Star Game, Books, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Prospects, Trade Rumors

Just in time for the movie too.

Except he’s doing it without the winning and “genius”.

I guess it’s not as easy when the rest of the baseball has caught up with a junk bond trader masquerading as a venture capitalist; a lounge lizard clad in polyester rather than a high-rolling card-counter in the casino; when there’s no Steve Phillips to hoodwink; no scouts to bully; no fawning writers to treat every word as if it’s gospel; no unsophisticated bumpkin without statistical advisers telling him when Beane’s trying to run a scam.

Billy Beane made one trade for the Athletics before the deadline despite having a number of movable parts on a team that is going nowhere literally and figuratively.

That’s aside from, perhaps, a September field trip to the movies to see either Moneyball or The Smurfs—both are about as realistic as the other—and break the monotony of a 75-87 season.

The one trade Beane made and another he tried to make hearkened back to yesteryear when he was still putting forth the pretense of being “ahead” of everyone else.

He acquired Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto from the Diamondbacks for submarine righty Brad Ziegler.

Yay.

Allen has put up great numbers in the minors with power and on-base skills, but hasn’t gotten a legitimate chance to play in the majors. He’s an average at best defender and can run a little bit.

Norberto is a lefty who’s posted big strikeout numbers and has control problems.

This is following his attempt to peddle Rich Harden on the Red Sox for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Naturally, Harden failed his physical and stayed with the A’s. Anderson is another slow-footed, formerly hyped prospect of a first baseman whose path is blocked for…well…forever with Adrian Gonzalez now entrenched at the position.

In short, Beane’s looking for his great white whale Jeremy Brown. Considering the attributes of Brown when his story was told in Moneyball, that’s a perfect metaphor as an underappreciated, overweight, one-dimensional player Beane can stick someplace and hope the ball doesn’t find him while he walks, walks, walks into everyone’s hearts and minds.

Allen might produce; he might not. Anderson could be something, somewhere. Norberto’s lefty, so he’ll always have a job.

None of this is relevant to the major point of Beane’s “genius”. He’s gone back to basics, but the basics are no longer the same. He’s counting cards, but he’s lost count and isn’t dealing with the same hand anymore.

The entire concept of that notion of “genius” was based on exposing inefficiencies in the market. That’s not creating anything; that’s not engaging in some profound “new” way of thinking; it’s a form of bottom-feeding to fill in a gap and it was a short-term boost that had to be adjusted as others caught onto the ruse.

Others smartened up and passed Beane; regardless of the continued attempts—based on an agenda—to play up his supposed brilliance, his results have been wanting and the excuses have been prevalent.

The “we have no money” lament was the genesis of Beane’s discovery of on-base percentage as an undervalued asset; you can’t use the same excuse for your success as you do for your failures—it doesn’t work that way.

You don’t hear the Rays—whose front office is truly brilliant—complaining about their lack of money until it sounds like whining. They accept and move on. And that’s what Beane should do. Possibly completely out of Oakland and onto pastures where he can be judged for what he is and not what was implied by Michael Lewis’s narrative skill and propensity to exaggerate to convenience his crafted ending.

Then maybe his staunchest defenders will see the truth.

After the movie financials are in of course.

It might happen.

But I doubt it.

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Yankees, Red Sox Deadline Moves/Non-Moves Inspire Yawns And Shrugs

Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Prospects, Trade Rumors

The Red Sox and Yankees both needed pitching and the rumor fires are always stoked when both are searching for the same things, but all the talk of “big deals” turned out to be much ado about very little.

The Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard from the Mariners in a 3-team deal with the Mariners and Dodgers and Bedard’s personality and health are more an issue than anything else. If he’s healthy, he’s good—but he’s rarely healthy for an extended period of time. He’s not adept at dealing with the media either. Despite the short-term nature of his guaranteed time with the Red Sox—2 months+playoffs—odds are he’s going to alienate someone in the Boston media or get hurt. He’s never been on a contending team before, so perhaps the Red Sox are getting a good pitcher on the cheap.

The Red Sox had a trade in place for the Athletics’ Rich Harden but Harden failed the physical.

No kidding.

The Yankees were chasing all sorts of windmills. They explored Ubaldo Jimenez and I’m quite sure they repeatedly called the Mariners to see if they’d changed their minds on Felix Hernandez. I’m getting the impression that there’s a daily phone call from Brian Cashman to Jack Zduriencik that’s short in duration and predictable in content.

Cashman: “Hey Jack, Felix available?”

Zduriencik: “Hey Brian. No.”

Cashman: “Okay, talk tomorrow.”

Who knows? Maybe eventually, like the worn down prom queen who doesn’t want to date the school geek, the answer will be yes.

I didn’t get what the Yankees were planning in inquiring about Denard Span; nor do I understand the thought process behind Wandy Rodriguez. Presumably Span would be a part of the DH/OF mix to replace Jorge Posada‘s dying bat.

I’ve always liked Rodriguez, but he was a question mark before getting to his financial price-tag. The Yankees apparently offered to pick up $21 million of his $38 million contract, but that’s not what would give me pause (the Yankees can afford it); what I’d wonder about is how Rodriguez would fare in the American League East with a range-limited left side of the infield of Alex Rodriguez (when he gets back he’ll probably be even slower) and Derek Jeter. And putting him in Fenway with the Red Sox bats and the Green Monster?

He’ll undoubtedly get through waivers in August, so the Yankees can revisit that if they choose, but I’d consider it carefully before pulling the trigger.

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Fit Or Fat, Pretty Or Productive

Draft, Games, Management, Media, Players

Look at this image of CC Sabathia from yesterday as he’s in mid-delivery.

Sabathia’s innings go up every single year, he racks up the marketable statistics and he’s money in the playoffs. He’s been fantastic this year even though his luck on ground balls in 2011 hasn’t been particularly good with a .254 BAbip (batting average on balls in play). In comparison both James Shieldslink, and Justin Verlander are at .177—link.

In short, he’s one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball and the Yankees don’t have to worry that he’s a pitch away from getting hurt.

Does Sabathia’s durability have something to do with his frame and, um, generous proportions?

It’s not something to ignore or accept as a baseline, but it’s something to consider.

David Wells was another corpulent pitcher who’d prefer to get beaten up by men half his size in a drunken late night foray to a Manhattan diner than come within two inches of a treadmill.

Babe Ruth would’ve used a Cybex machine as a bed.

On the other side there are pitchers whose physiques were something out of Muscle and Fitness but spent their entire lives on the disabled list for extended periods of time. Kevin Brown was shredded but had multiple injuries throughout a stellar career; there was an ad during the Athletics-Marlins game yesterday promoting the return of Rich Harden—he of the estimated 2% bodyfat. He’ll be back long enough to injure another part of his body and go back on the disabled list.

Mechanics and genetics have something to do with it, but could it be that—amid other factors—the extra weight is providing padding and protection that a more picturesque athlete doesn’t have?

This isn’t a suggestion to find players who aren’t considered aesthetically pleasing as an end unto itself, but to reconsider what’s considered “in shape” to walk on the beach and “in shape” to throw a baseball repeatedly and not injure oneself.

In his curmudgeonly way, Whitey Herzog once said (in around 1989) that if players “drank a beer or ate a steak” once in a while, maybe their ribcages would stop tearing off the bone.

Maybe he was right.

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Hammering

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

Scott Kazmir‘s precarious position in the Angels starting rotation got me to—again—think about why teams insist on hammering square pegs into round holes.

There are certain belief systems that have to change to maximize the talent a club has on their roster. Did anyone ever stop to think that perhaps pitchers like Kazmir and Rich Harden would be better off as relievers?

After getting past the numerical argument that a decent starter is better than a good reliever, what happens if the pitcher isn’t a decent starter anymore; or if he’s good, but can’t stay healthy? Why does there have to be this ironclad set of rules that pitcher A is a starter and he’s going to stay a starter?

Kazmir and Harden can’t stay healthy as starters; Kazmir is no longer effective as a starter—why not see if he can possibly help out of the bullpen?

An onus is placed over a player who can’t do certain things and it’s at the expense of what he can do. One of the things that made Earl Weaver a genius wasn’t his adherence to stats; it wasn’t his discipline; it wasn’t his utter ruthlessness in getting rid of players who could no longer help him win; it was his conscious decision to put his players in the best possible circumstances to succeed.

He did it with Gary Roenicke and John Lowenstein—separately they could only be described as average players at best; combined, they were one of the most devastating platoons in memory.

So why can’t Harden be placed in the bullpen to see if he can fire his power fastball and slider for an inning or two, not worry about pacing himself and hope he can stay healthy?

If he continues his downward spiral, why not stick Kazmir in the bullpen as the 7th-8th inning man—or even let him close on occasion—and see if the adrenaline rush from being a reliever and never knowing when he’s going to be needed to pitch blows his fastball back into the mid-90s?

Tony La Russa has forever been blamed for the one-inning closer because of the way he deployed Dennis Eckersley; the truth is that Eckersley pitched more than one inning regularly when he first moved to the bullpen and La Russa’s decision to use his short reliever in that manner was based on Eckersley being better that way; it was not some grand scheme that this is how it should be done.

Does anyone think that Eckersley would’ve been of more use had he stayed in the starting rotation as his career was nearly undone at age 32 because he was no longer an effective starter? He didn’t want to go to the bullpen—he had no choice—now he’s in the Hall of Fame.

With the way relievers—aside from Mariano Rivera—are so inherently unreliable, the entire fabric of how to deploy one’s pitching staff has to be overhauled; it would take a gutty front office and manager to do it, but with the new blood permeating baseball and shoving back at conformity with a flourish, someone’s going to say they’re doing it another way…eventually.

Old-school people who repeatedly reference Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Dan Quisenberry as closers who were legitimate relief aces tend to forget that those great pitchers blew games too.

George Brett used to lie in wait for a Gossage high fastball because he was one of the few hitters in baseball who was quick enough to get on top of it. Other hitters with whom Gossage had trouble were fastball hitters like Champ Summers* and Richie Zisk.

*Summers was a piece of work. He was a Vietnam vet who loved—not liked—loved to fight.

In fact, when Gossage signed with the Yankees in 1978, he allowed homers in his first three appearances. It wasn’t all “lights out, ballgame over” when these pitchers came into games, selective memory and factional disputes as to eras aside.

From memory, Sutter was the reliever I feared more than any other because he’d come into a game in the sixth inning and close it out. But Sutter’s greatness was proven to be limiting as well when he left the Cardinals, signed a massive free agent contract with the then-woeful Atlanta Braves and his presence didn’t help them at all because they weren’t any good; the Cardinals won the pennant the first year without Sutter.

A team has to be complete; it has to have all the puzzle pieces arranged correctly. We don’t know what would happen with a Kazmir or Harden if they were made into relievers, but we certainly know what they currently are as starters, so why continue the charade? Why not make a career change and see if it works?

They’re not doing much good now, so what’s the difference if they fail as relievers as well?

And it just might work.

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

I was on with Mike at NYBaseballDigest and his preview as well. You can listen here.

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Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available and will be useful for your fantasy leagues all season 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 also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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Viewer Mail 3.17.2011

Books, Management, Media, Players, Spring Training

St. Patrick gave you a reason to get drunk today; I gave Mets fans a reason (well, more of a reason) yesterday.

To the mails!

The Other Mike in The Bleacher Seats writes RE the Rangers and Neftali Feliz:

I don’t pretend to know what Wash is thinking, but it might be that he’s trying to get the attention of Mark Lowe or another bullpen guy. Lowe had said that, if Feliz’s role were to change, he wanted the closer’s job. He hasn’t really shown that he can handle it, so maybe his manager was trying to push some buttons to make him more competitive.

I’m going to play the Buster Olney card and say that a source told me I’m right on the money here.

I don’t get the sense of pretentiousness from Ron Washington that he uses sly allusions to motivate and send messages to his players.

I totally understand where he’s coming from; the designated closer gives the manager a built-in excuse when that closer gacks up a game; if a manager has to find someone to do the job and determine whether to stay with what he’s got or try something else, he’s wide open for second guessing; with Washington, he’s more wide open for second guessing since his bullpen deployment is weak to begin with.

I’m sure Lowe does want the closer’s role; like Washington saying he wanted someone established, my reply is: Yeah? So?

Ah, Buster Olney. He hears voices.

Bob’s Blitz writes RE me:

The volume of accurate and interesting information that Paul Lebowitz can pump out is amazing.

Bob is a good man.

If you haven’t checked his site, dig it for pop culture, comedy, sports and—most importantly—pics of great looking women.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE my book excerpt—link:

Looking forward to your Yankees review – I think.

Have the lambs stopped screaming, Jane?

You needn’t worry about me calling on you; I find the world more interesting with you in it. Make sure and extend me that same courtesy…

I’ve been wanting to mention a couple of things regarding the book. There are plenty of companies you can use to circumvent the mainstream publishers and get your product out there, but I-Universe has consistently given me great service and a beautiful product.

They especially went above-and-beyond the call of duty this year by speeding up the process so I could make changes that I wouldn’t have otherwise made due to time constraints and the need to get the book out as quickly as possible.

For example, the Adam Wainwright injury occurred after I’d submitted the manuscript and I was prepared to move forward with the book as it was, but I was assured that the alterations wouldn’t delay the process for more than one day and I made the changes.

I recommend them to everyone. If you read me regularly, you know my praise doesn’t come lightly or cheaply.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE my book excerpt, Carlos Beltran and the Mets:

I pretty much agree with this… especially the Beltran scenario. Sorta sad that THAT’S what Mets fans have to look forward to…. the most…. in my opinion.

It’s all cyclical. The Mets do have plenty of talent, but in that division with all the pitching questions and off-field legal/financial cesspool, it is what it is.

Max Stevens writes RE the Mets and my book excerpt:

Great preview of the Mets today.  I’m looking forward to reading your book.  There’s little if anything I disagree with in your analysis. So how long do you think it’ll be before the fire sale starts in Queens?  Do you think that Alderson and his brain trust would torch the whole thing to the ground and rebuild from scratch?  This is actually the scenario I’m hoping for, much as it hurts me to see the Mets lose again and again.  But can a nuclear option – dealing Wright, Reyes, and maybe even Jason Bay – fly in NYC?

They’d be foolish not to listen on anyone. I doubt they’ll trade David Wright but given his position and contract status, they’d get a bounty for him. Bay’s making a lot of money; he’s not going anywhere.

The saddest part is it doesn’t matter if it would fly. Fans are fed up. There’s the natural optimism from opening day approaching, but, as I said to Jeff, reality is what it is. This is how it has to be. It’s borderline preordained.

This is kinda-sorta a comment even though it wasn’t said to me directly.

I was linked on LoneStarBall after my posting about the Rangers—link.

The comment portion is interesting. It goes as follows:

So how much heed should we pay to a person who immediately goes on to say:

On another note regarding the Rangers search for a closer, why didn’t they keep Rich Harden and try him as the closer if they intended to shift Feliz to the rotation?

The poster of the link defended me with:

I don’t really care if you pay heed or not, just sharing some Interwebby reading.

But to be fair, you did leave out his reasoning on how Harden might be better suited as a closer.

Here’s what I don’t get: do people not understand the concept of context? That picking and choosing quotes to bolster an argument is a losing proposition?

Rather than present a reasonable, cogent case against my idea of Rich Harden as a closer—and there are several—they edit creatively, dishonestly and clumsily and follow-up with a snide dismissal.

It’s transparent and weak.

You want an argument against Harden as a closer? Here it is: He’s never been a reliever; he sometimes loses the strike zone; his injury problems are constant and occur to various parts of his body; and he had an $11 million option for 2011 with a $1 million buyout that the Rangers weren’t going to exercise no matter what; if they were going to keep him, it would’ve been under a renegotiated and cheaper deal.

But instead, we get a short, sweet and inaccurate bit of snark designed to denigrate.

If that’s the best you’ve got, don’t waste your time coming at me.

I published a full excerpt of my book yesterday here.

The book is 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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Managing The Spring

Books, Management, Media, Players, Spring Training
  • If Ron Washington speaks and no one listens, does he make a sound?

Rangers manager Ron Washington didn’t appear to be totally on board with the concept of making Neftali Feliz a starter; now that Feliz has expressed a desire to start and the Rangers higher-ups, GM Jon Daniels, et al. want him to start, Washington is now saying that he wants an experienced closer to replace Feliz if the young righty does indeed move to the starting rotation.

You can read details of this here on MLBTradeRumors.

Washington wants an established closer?

Yeah?

So?

No disrespect to Washington, but he’s not exactly a strong voice in the Rangers hierarchy. In fact, I question whether they listen to him at all.

Washington’s main attributes are his ability to survive and that the players like him and play hard for him. Apart from that, he doesn’t contribute anything strategically to the Rangers’ wins or losses; if anything, his pitching changes harm the team’s chances for winning a particular game and he’s always on the verge of doing something stupid.

He’s not a good field manager, but the Rangers have won with him and he’s overcome the failed drug test in 2009 to keep his job and was rewarded with a pennant and contract extension.

It’s not a remote experience for teams to win without a strong manager; the Rangers could conceivably have won with a mannequin modeling a uniform placed in the corner of the dugout; the Diamondbacks under Bob Brenly won the World Series in 2001 and won 98 games in 2002—Brenly was the equivalent of a laid off crash test dummy, but he knew enough to let the players play and stay out of the way.

Do you think the Rangers are going to start looking for a relief pitcher now before seeing what they have in Alexi Ogando or another pitcher who could handle the role?

Washington’s desires are politely heard…and ignored. He has no say in what’s going on with the Rangers. It’s not nice to hear or say, but it’s true.

On another note regarding the Rangers search for a closer, why didn’t they keep Rich Harden and try him as the closer if they intended to shift Feliz to the rotation? Harden should be a closer anyway; he strikes people out and can’t stay healthy as a starter. He can’t be more injury-prone as a reliever than he is as a starter and maybe knowing he only has to go for one inning or so would benefit him physically.

There’s talk that Mets manager Terry Collins wants to name journeyman Luis Hernandez as his opening day second baseman and release Luis Castillo immediately.

I have no problem with releasing Castillo; in fact, I’m wondering why the Mets don’t do it now to give Castillo a better shot of hooking on with someone else. There’s no need to drag it out and be vindictive if the end result is known and unchangeable.

With Hernandez, he’s emerging as the lesser of evils—at least in the eyes of the manager.

Rule 5 pickup Brad Emaus is hitting .200; Daniel Murphy is hitting well, but his defense must not be up to snuff if he’s behind Hernandez; Jordany Valdespin was killing the ball and got sent down; Ruben Tejada would be my choice but it sounds as if he’s going to be playing shortstop in Triple A to prepare to possibly take over for Jose Reyes.

The reality of Hernandez is that he’s going to be 27; is a slightly above-average defender at second; doesn’t steal bases; and has been an okay hitter in the minors; in 290 career plate appearances in the majors, he’s a .245 hitter with a .286 OBP and a .298 slugging percentage.

Collins is walking a fine line with the Mets in his first spring. On the one hand, if Hernandez is the player he feels has earned the job, then he has to go with his gut; on the other hand, the player has shown little upside in comparison to the others.

In another tightrope situation, Collins is trying to maintain credibility with the players when it comes to Oliver Perez. Perez was told that he’d get a few starts; if that didn’t work, he’d receive a fair look as a lefty specialist.

On WFAN recently (I can’t remember who it was who said it), but Collins was paraphrased as saying he told Perez he’d give him an opportunity in a variety of roles and if he’s going to maintain credibility with the rest of the clubhouse, he has to hold to his word.

As much as Perez is reviled in the Mets clubhouse, he’s still one of the players; for Collins to bow to expediency, give way to inside and outside pressures and dump Perez before living up to his promise, it would do more harm than good with the other players.

He’s making the best of the circumstances and I understand where he’s coming from, but I can’t see this movement to name Hernandez the everyday second baseman working. Considering the circumstances surrounding the Mets, that too might do more harm than good.

My book is available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN.


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Hedging

Free Agents, Media, Spring Training
  • Mutual risk/reward:

Certain subjects present the conundrum of which side to take.

Much like life, there’s a wide gray area between “right” and “wrong” and it’s open to interpretation and argument.

Such is the case with the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista agreeing to a 5-year, $64 million contract extension to preclude Bautista’s arbitration hearing this year and free agency following the season—MLB Trade Rumors Story.

There’s a case to say the Blue Jays jumped the gun on for a 30-year-0ld journeyman who might have had that one magical season that was a result of a confluence of events—events that he never before reached and likely never will again.

The other side can suggest that they believe Bautista is for real; that 2010 was the first season that he knew he was in the lineup every day and more importantly, knew that he was on the big league roster in the same city without the threat of trade or demotion hovering over his head. Functioning without one’s bags packed at a moment’s notice, he relaxed and played up to his potential.

Granted, 54 homers is a pretty massive potential.

Much like the constant references to Jayson Werth having never driven in 100 runs and receiving that lunatic contract he did from the Nationals, everything needs to be placed in the proper context.

Werth drove in 99 one year and and has only been an every-single-day player for two years—are you telling me that the 1 RBI between 99 and 100 would’ve been enough to shield him from that specious ridicule?

There’s no connection.

Bautista hit 54 homers last year and his previous career high was 16, but before the 161 games in which he played last year, his prior high was 142 games for the Pirates in 2007 and he hit 15 homers; apart from that, he was never a regular player and he bounced from the Orioles to the Devil Rays to the Royals to the Mets to the Pirates to the Blue Jays.

There’s something to be said for opportunity. A major part of success is simply showing up and getting a chance—Bautista got his chance in 2010 and took advantage of it.

This payday is far more than anything Bautista could’ve expected while he was with the Pirates.

The Blue Jays aren’t stupid; they know that Bautista’s sudden burst of power could’ve come from illicit means or that it was a freak occurrence. I doubt it was a “freak” thing and the Blue Jays—judging from this contract—agree.

No one aside from Bautista can know if he had chemical help—but if the team took the player to arbitration and let him play out this year as a pending free agent and he hit the way he did last season, there was no way they were going to be able to keep him. Bautista knows that if he put up another big year and with his versatility in the field, he’d make a fortune on the market.

Both sides are hedging their bets that Bautista is the real deal.

There’s no “right” nor is there a “wrong” in this case. It’s a risk for both ends; it’s a reward for both ends.

My feeling is that while Bautista will be hard-pressed to hit 50 homers again, he is a legitimate slugger and will hit at least 30. Is that worth the money the Blue Jays paid him?

As long as he doesn’t get busted in an HGH investigation nor fall flat on his face, then it is absolutely a smart risk even if it fails.

  • As funny as Adam Sandler and Dane Cook:

No, I don’t find Adam Sander or Dane Cook funny.

That’s the point.

During the desperate-for-stories days of spring training in February/March, how much of the reporting involves actual “stories” and how much is stuff to get people to read and talk?

Whether or not they’re fair has little relation to the stories themselves; of course there are the editors who are cajoling or outright demanding that certain nuggets be placed into a column.

You have to read between the lines.

Such was the case when I read this teaser line on ESPN.com—A’s Harden to miss 2 weeks with still lat muscle—although it’s irrelevant, you can read the story here.

It’s irrelevant not because it’s not newsworthy—of course it is—but because it’s being used as a hammer to: A) get a story where there are few to be found; and B) to get a laugh at the expense of someone else.

Rich Harden‘s career has been decimated by injuries to every part of his body. He’s had one season in which he was completely healthy and made 31 starts (2004); he had another in which he made 25 (2008); in both years, his numbers make one salivate as to how dominant he can be.

But he’s always hurt.

The aspect of spring training that’s conveniently ignored is that aches and pains are part of the deal.

If it was a historically durable pitcher like C.C. Sabathia who tweaked a muscle and needed to rest, there wouldn’t be an article specifically dedicated and tag-lined to highlight the injury as a means of supplementary laughter. It would be chalked up to a return to physical activity after a few months off and nothing more.

With Harden, there’s that eye-rolling, “here we go again” when he has an injury, major or minor.

Harden’s in camp with the Athletics and trying to make it in their starting rotation, but this might be a blessing in disguise; I’ve long said that Harden, with his 95 mph fastball, good changeup and slider, should be a reliever. He doesn’t have the stamina nor the constitution to stay healthy over the long season pitching 150-200 innings, but as a reliever? Maybe he’d be able to stay out on the mound, go all-out for an inning or two and take his leave.

If he can’t make the rotation perhaps, like Dennis Eckersley, necessity will force him into a situation he and the club wouldn’t prefer, but will be better for all in the long run.

This is only a story for the underlying joke his repeated trips to the disabled list imply; but it’s not an actual story as it’s presented; it’s spring training and players get hurt.

Today, writers/editors/bloggers exploit such things for their ends.

You can see the difference in tone if you squint hard enough.