American League Remaining Schedule and Playoff Chance Analysis

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Let’s take a look at the remaining schedules for all the teams still in the hunt for an American League playoff berth.

Boston Red Sox

Record: 89-58; 15 games remaining

Current Position: First Place by 9.5 games, American League East

Remaining Schedule: 1 game at Rays; 3 games vs. Yankees; 3 games vs. Orioles; 3 games vs. Blue Jays; 2 games at Rockies; 3 games at Orioles

The Red Sox have the best record in the American League by five games. They’re going to have a significant say in which team gets the second Wild Card given their six games against the Orioles and four against the Yankees. They’re not going to lay down as evidenced by manager John Farrell’s somewhat odd – but successful – decision last night to use Koji Uehara is a tie game that meant nothing to them. I’m wondering if Farrell has received advice from Patriots coach Bill Belichick on going for the throat at all costs because it was a Belichick move.

They don’t seem to have a preference as to whether they knock out the Yankees, Rays or Orioles. They’re playing all out, all the way.

Oakland Athletics

Record: 84-61; 17 games remaining

Current Position: First Place by 3 games, American League West

Remaining Schedule: 1 game at Twins; 3 games at Rangers; 3 games vs. Angels; 4 games vs. Twins; 3 games at Angels; 3 games at Mariners

The A’s lead the Rangers by three games and have three games with them this weekend. Strength of schedule can be a dual-edged sword. This isn’t the NFL, but teams whose seasons are coming to a disappointing close are just as likely to get some motivation by playing teams that have something to play for as they are to bag it and give up. The Angels have played better lately and the Mariners can pitch.

Detroit Tigers

Record: 84-62; 16 games remaining

Current Position: First Place by 6.5 games, American League Central

Remaining Schedule: 3 games vs. Royals; 4 games vs. Mariners; 3 games vs. White Sox; 3 games vs. Twins; 3 games vs. Marlins

The Tigers’ upcoming schedule is pretty weak and they have a good cushion for the division. They can’t coast, but they can relax a bit.

Texas Rangers

Record: 81-64; 17 games remaining

Current Position: Second Place by 3 games, American League West; lead first Wild Card by 3.5 games

Remaining Schedule: 3 games vs. Athletics; 4 games at Rays; 3 games at Royals; 3 games vs. Astros; 4 games vs. Angels

The Rangers are in jeopardy of falling out of the playoffs entirely if they slip up over the next ten games. All of those teams have something to play for and the Rangers have been slumping.

Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 78-66; 18 games remaining

Current Position: Second Place by 9.5 games, American League East; lead second Wild Card by 1 game

Remaining Schedule: 1 game vs. Red Sox; 3 games at Twins; 4 games at Rangers; 4 games at Orioles; 3 games at Yankees; 3 games at Blue Jays

With the way they’re currently playing (think the 2007 Mets) they’re not going to right their ship in time to make the playoffs. They’d better wake up. Fast.

New York Yankees

Record: 78-68; 16 games remaining

Current Position: Third Place by 10.5 games; 1 game behind for the second Wild Card

Remaining Schedule: 1 game at Orioles; 3 games at Red Sox; 3 games at Blue Jays; 3 games vs. Giants; 3 games vs. Rays; 3 games at Astros

There’s a reluctance to say it, but the Yankees are better off without this current version of Derek Jeter. He was hurting the team offensively and defensively. Their problem has nothing to do with schedules or how they’re playing, but with age and overuse. They’re hammering away with their ancient veterans for one last group run. Mariano Rivera is being repeatedly used for multiple innings out of necessity; Alex Rodriguez is hobbled; David Robertson is pitching hurt; Shawn Kelley isn’t 100 percent; Andy Pettitte is gutting his way through. If they’re in it in the last week, will there be any gas left in their collective tanks?

Cleveland Indians

Record: 77-68; 17 games remaining

Current Position: Second Place by 6.5 games, American League Central; 1.5 games behind for the second Wild Card

Remaining Schedule: 4 games at White Sox; 3 games at Royals; 4 games vs. Astros; 2 games vs. White Sox; 4 games at Twins

The White Sox are playing about as badly as the Astros without the excuse of lack of talent/innocent youth. They just don’t seem to care. The Indians’ schedule pretty much guarantees they’ll at least be alive in the last week of the season.

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 77-68; 17 games remaining

Current Position: Fourth Place by 11 games, American League East; 1.5 games behind for the second Wild Card

Remaining Schedule: 1 game vs. Yankees; 3 games at Blue Jays; 3 games at Red Sox; 4 games at Rays; 3 games vs. Blue Jays; 3 games vs. Red Sox

The Red Sox are taking great, sadistic pleasure in hampering the playoff hopes of anyone and everyone and have shown no preference in who they’re beating on. This will hurt and/or help the Orioles. The big games to watch are those four with the Rays.

Kansas City Royals

Record: 77-69; 16 games remaining

Current Position: Third Place by 7 games, American League Central; 2 games behind for the second Wild Card

Remaining Schedule: 3 games at Tigers; 3 games vs. Indians; 3 games vs. Rangers; 3 games at Mariners; 4 games at White Sox

I’d like to see the Royals make the playoffs because: A) they’re a likable young team; B) we need some new blood in the post-season; and B) the likes of Rany Jazayerli, Rob Neyer, Joe Sheehan and the rest of the stat-obsessed “experts” who live to bash the Royals will either have to admit they’re wrong (unlikely) or will join together to play a disturbing game of middle-aged men Twister (hopefully clothed) to justify why they were “right” even though Dayton Moore’s moves worked and the Royals leapt into contention and more.

It will be nice having an experienced arm like James Shields for a one-game Wild Card playoff or for the first game of the ALDS. I have a feeling about the Royals making the playoffs. And it’s gonna be funny.

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The Royals Should Not Sell

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One you reference Joe (the Twins should’ve drafted Mark Prior over Joe Mauer amid dozens of other analytical baseball travesties) Sheehan as the basis for your logic, your foundation is built for collapse. In this SB Nation posting, Rob Neyer suggests the Royals throw the towel in on the season while they’re still within reasonable striking distance of first place by trading Ervin Santana, Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar. Needless to say, I’m not swayed by the Baseball Prospectus playoff percentages that are used as tenets to make these moves and I really don’t care what Sheehan says about anything.

The Royals have disappointed this season. They made a series of deals to try and win now and they’ve been hit or miss. James Shields has been good; Wade Davis inconsistent; Wil Myers, now with the Rays, is looking like the hype was real. The Royals haven’t scored in large part because their approach has been atrocious and Mike Moustakas has played poorly enough that they might want to consider sending him to the minors. But wouldn’t a sell-off of Santana, Holland and Hochevar be giving up on a season when they are still only seven games out of first place behind the somewhat disappointing Tigers? That’s an eight game winning streak away from getting it to three games. They have a large number of games against the White Sox, Mets, Mariners, Twins and Marlins. They have a lot of games left with the Tigers as well. Is it out of the question that they can get to within five games by September 1? If it were a team run by Sheehan or Neyer, would it be justified to give up on the season while still within five games of first place with a month left? Or is the loathing of general manager Dayton Moore so intense that it clouds their judgment to try and get him fired?

It appears that the hardcore stat guys have still not learned the lesson that taking every single player at a certain position and lumping them into a group as what teams “should” do with them based on that position is not analysis. It’s hedging. The lack of consistency in the suggested strategy and examples are conveniently twisted. At the end of the piece, Neyer writes, “We know what the A’s and Rays would do, though” when discussing why closers are disposable. Neyer writes that Holland is “probably worth more now than he’ll ever be worth again.” Yet the Rays, who got the best year of his life out of Fernando Rodney in 2012 and had him under contract at a cheap rate for another year, didn’t trade him when he was in a similar circumstance. The Rays had traded for a big money closer in Rafael Soriano before the 2010 season, much to the consternation of the “pump-and-dump/you can find a closer” wing of stat guys. Which is it? Is there consistency of theory or consistency when it confirms the bias as to what “should” be done?

I also find it laughable when people like Sheehan and Neyer have all the guts in the world to make these decisions while sitting behind a keyboard simultaneously having no responsibility to try and adhere to the various aspects of running a club—doing what the owner wants, attracting fans and keeping the job.

There’s an argument to be made for making deals to get better for the next season if the situation calls for it. If not an outright fire sale, a concession to reality by dealing marketable commodities is the correct move when a team is underachieving. The Blue Jays are an example far more relevant to the concept of giving up in late July than the Royals are. The Blue Jays have a GM, Alex Anthopoulos, who thinks more in line with what the stat people think and is probably more likely to be fired after the season than Moore.

With Neyer, Rany Jazayerli and presumably Bill James (even though he now works for the Red Sox), I can’t tell whether they’re providing objective analysis based on the facts or they’re Royals fans hoping the club comes completely undone because they don’t like Moore and would like someone closer to their line of thinking running the team. If that’s the case there’s nothing wrong with that if one is honest about it, but it’s somewhat untoward and shady to be using stats and out of context examples to “prove” a point.

Regardless of how they’ve played, the Royals are only seven games out of first place. That’s no time to start clearing the decks of players they might need to make a run. And numbers, hatred of the GM and disappointments aside, a run is still possible, like it or not.


Revisiting the A-Rod Contract

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Rob Neyer wrote this piece in yesterday’s NY Times about Alex Rodriguez‘s contract with the Yankees.

Rationality doesn’t exist when Hank Steinbrenner insinuates himself into a negotiation so it shouldn’t have been a shock when the Yankees decided to reward A-Rod for opting out of his contract in 2007. Because the contract has become so toxic and A-Rod is physically deteriorating right before our eyes, the Yankees can reasonably wonder what they’re going to get from him in the immediate and distant future.

Tied in with that contract and the Yankees desperate hopes to get something—anything—out of A-Rod, it’s not surprising that they let him go to Germany for experimental procedures on his shoulder and knee.

Considering how onerous that contract is, that the team is cognizant of the new luxury tax guidelines and wants to stay below what amounts to a salary cap by 2014, A-Rod’s deal is a sinkhole in their budget and it’s showing up in their scarcity of moves this winter—they’ve stood pat when they really aren’t in a position to stand pat.

The horrible contract aside, it’s doubtful that they ever expected him to be a problem in the lineup as well as on the ledger.

There was always the “well, it’s A-Rod” argument that he’d produce for the team in some way independent of salary; the money’s gone and it’s not coming back, but at least he’d play every day and hit.

But he’s not playing every day; his hitting is declining; his defensive range is decreasing; and he’s got six years remaining on that contract.

Amid the numerous reasons why Steinbrenner’s intervention was idiotic, there were justifications that they’d get offense from the player for the duration.

Accounting for extenuating circumstances and the closing window of chemical assistance (PEDs), a 33% dropoff in his home run output in 2007 would still yield MVP-quality numbers with 38 homers plus huge on-base and slugging percentages. Greatness diminished is still greatness; if A-Rod were better than the rest of baseball while using enhancers, he’d be better than the rest of baseball playing clean.

It made sense in theory.

He’d been durable and the last thing the Yankees were expecting was this dramatic physical breakdown.

A-Rod’s contrition for the ill-timed opt-out during the 2007 World Series and subsequent split with Scott Boras masked the fact that he got what he wanted—a ridiculous extension—from the whole episode.

The drug use aiding players’ performance into their late-30s to replicate what they did in their 20s implied that there was little risk in a contract that kept a great player past his 40th birthday—worst case, he’d walk a lot and be a threat in the lineup with 25 homers. That’s still productive and useful.

But A-Rod is coming apart physically. If Steinbrenner had been persuaded that a mid-to-late 30s decline was inevitable while taking history and the new drug testing (amphetamines included) into account, the Yankees might’ve avoided this nightmarish contract. But the baseball people must’ve figured they’d get something out of him even in the old-man years.

Now it doesn’t look like they’re going to.

They’ll certainly be paying for it though.

Literally and figuratively.

I’m planning on adding a Fantasy Baseball page onto my site and don’t play Fantasy Baseball—you can see my conundrum. So if you can write and know Roto (and I really don’t care what you say as long as you don’t give me a lot of editing work, aggravation and know what you’re talking about), email me on the contact link at the top of the page.

It’s unpaid, but people will read your stuff.


The Pinstriped Curtain And The Little Gatekeeper

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Drunk with power and taking quite literally his wide-ranging parameters, the Yankees czar/zealot/dictator of a media director Jason Zillo refused access to writer Michael Sokolove as Sokolove wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine about the natural, age-related decline of athletes with Derek Jeter at the center.

It’s a combination profile, statistical and historical analysis not of Jeter alone, but of athletes in general as they age.

What jumped out at me was the behavior of Zillo and the Napoleonic arrogance he shows in what apparently is perceived as all-encompassing power.

I was baffled when I read the following:

The prospect of this article did not sit well with the Yankees, or at least elements of its hierarchy. Jason Zillo, the team’s media director, would not grant me access to the Yankees’ clubhouse before games to do interviews. I have been a baseball beat writer, have written two baseball books and have routinely been granted clubhouse credentials for a quarter-century, as just about anyone connected to a reputable publication or broadcast outlet usually is. “We’re not interested in helping you, so why should I let you in?” Zillo said, before further explaining that he views his role as a “gatekeeper” against stories the Yankees would rather not see in print.

Hearkening back to Jane Heller‘s tongue-in-cheek book, Confessions of a She-Fan—which was a love-letter to the Yankees and was actually more about being a fan and how it affects one’s life—Zillo also refused Jane access to the club in any way; not even John Sterling was able to help her in her efforts to talk to the players for a book that was written in a comedic, fan-centric tone.

What is this?

Are the Yankees seriously trying to stifle the media like a paranoid carbon-copy of the Nixon Administration?

Jeter is the catalyst for unending debate; his game is being put into perspective as to whether it’s intangibles, performance, personality or all of the above that have created this mythic figure.

On one end of the spectrum, you have Michael Kay’s orgasmic verbal expulsions when Jeter grounds a single through the middle and the caller who told Mike Francesa that Jeter was going to do something “special” (whatever that means) before this season ends; on the other end are the media members like Rob Neyer who imply Jeter shouldn’t be playing at all, the fans who want to give his job to Eduardo Nunez or call him “Captain DP” among the more printable references in a family-friendly blog.

But this isn’t about Jeter; not about the wide-ranging reactions he receives as his skills diminish; it’s about Zillo and the Yankees (because they’re the entity Zillo represents) as he wallows in a self-created, all-encompassing power he believes he has and is in the process (a Brian Cashman word) of embarrassing the Yankees organization with his growing megalomania.

It’s despicable.

MLB should examine the “Zillo Policy” and step in to prevent these kinds of random refusals of access from happening again.


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— 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

vs LHB as LHP 2212 2020 229 509 63 23 31 138 241 .252 .303 .352 .655 711 .271 84
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

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

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 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 5.7.2011

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Rather than take random shots at me and drastically alter the context and tone of what I’ve written based on convenience as the commenters on my linking on Baseball Think Factory, The Score, and Twitter did (and then ran), some actually had the intestinal fortitude and self-respect to do something unique: confront me directly.

Let’s have a look…

Vlad writes RE Rob Neyer and Derek Jeter:

“There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting; perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball; perhaps it’s a bitterness that comes from writing about an activity and longing so desperately to have their way seen as correct; or maybe they’re just obnoxious jerks.”

It’s a reaction to all the undeserved coverage and accolades Jeter has received over the years. He’s been a very good player, but even so, the frothy, excessive praise he receives at every turn can be very off-putting for people who don’t live inside the NY bubble.

For example, Jeter is on the whole a subpar fielder, with a significant inability to reach ground balls hit to his left. He didn’t deserve to win even one Gold Glove – yet he has five of them on his shelf at home.

Similarly, Jeter’s reputation as a clutch God in the postseason is largely undeserved. He’s been a good postseason hitter (.309/.377/.472)… but not nearly as good as A-Rod (.290/.396/.528), who’s routinely criticized and portrayed as a Mr. May-style postseason stiff.

Even your post displays a few of these tendencies. Why do you assume that Jeter “has played clean”? Absence of evidence is not the same thing as evidence of absence, and yet it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that Jeter might have used. If guys like Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt have gone on the record as having tried to gain a chemical edge through the use of illegal substances, who’s to say that Jeter didn’t, too?

“Regarding Jeter, isn’t the point of stat-based theory supposed to look at the player’s career history and come to a conclusion based on a bit more than 100 at bats?”

As you may or may not be aware, Jeter’s hitting slipped badly in the second half last year. Over the last 365 days, a time period encompassing 736 PA, he’s put up a .260/.335/.334 batting line, with below-average defense. That’s not a very good performance. When you combine it with the fact that he’s 37, things don’t look good for him.

“What are they supposed to do after benching him?”

Hope that he retires, I would assume. That way, they wouldn’t be on the hook for the rest of his ill-advised contract extension, and could feel free to pursue someone like Reyes as a replacement.

The entire Gold Glove Award process is a disaster; for years I’ve lamented the decision to present the award to outfielders as an entity rather than by position with sometimes three center fielders winning the award; there’s no viable reason for many of the winners apart from, “oh, I know him; he’s pretty good” based on nothing; and Jeter’s not the only one to benefit from it; Rafael Palmeiro winning the award in 1999 after playing 28 games at first base was about as nonsensical as it gets…actually no, MLB defending it was more absurd.

The post-season “clutchness” emanates more from his overall success and winning—A-Rod’s numbers were boosted by the massive post-season he had in 2009; the negativity was, in part, because of Joe Torre‘s self-serving, “grumpy old man” decision to humiliate A-Rod by batting him eighth in the 2006 ALDS vs the Tigers; A-Rod is and always will be a better player in all facets than Derek Jeter.

The media has been kind to Jeter for the access to his life that they need and his reputation for freezing out those who cross him; never once have I bought into the “Jeter is God” mystique; it’s a mutually beneficial relationship; Jeter gets the accolades from the media and answers their questions.

You make a fair point regarding his perceived cleanliness, but as I’ve said before, the pitfalls for Jeter were voluminous especially for a young, handsome, talented star who was dating Mariah Carey as a rookie; we’ve seen New York swallow up so many young talents—greater talents than Jeter like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden—and he avoided those pitfalls. He does deserve praise for that.

No, I don’t know that he’s clean. I’m naturally cynical about such matters. But I do believe that Jeter is smart enough to refrain from anything that might even proffer the mere hint of impropriety to tarnish his legacy.

I don’t see one poor calendar year—after fifteen years of sustained excellence—as a fair sample to judge someone.

Regarding Reyes, I had a similar debate on Facebook. If you’d like to run the risk of hoping Reyes is available to the Yankees and give an injury-prone player $140+ million to come across town while totally alienating Jeter by openly telling him he’s gone after 2011, be my guest, but that is a massive amount of money and grand risk; Brian Cashman won’t be able to use the “abused by the Mets” excuse that deservedly placed him on the spit rod after Pedro Feliciano got hurt either.

Linus writes RE Rob Neyer:

Rob Neyer is a sweet-natured and classy guy, and he certainly doesn’t stoop to broad generalizations like the ones in this article, which are dim, silly, and sad.

Own any mirrors, Mr Lebowitz?

Sweet nature and classiness aside, where are my broad generalizations?

You deftly stickhandle your way around the issues I raise by coming at me with your own brand of silliness like asking me if I own any mirrors. I own plenty of mirrors; one of my favorite activities is gazing into mine own eyes and wallowing in narcissism.

The genesis of my posting wasn’t a capricious attack on Neyer. I’m asking a question as to what his alternative to signing Jeter was. What should the Yankees do rather than write his name in the lineup? And why say something like the horse-shooting foolishness?

Do you have a solution?

Perhaps you’d like to interpret what it was Neyer was trying to say in his tweet.

My judgment is based on a long litany of work that has gradually and then precipitously declined into a self-serving agenda on the part of Neyer to put forth his theory of stats above all else; it’s become angry and he clearly lashes out without basis for much of what he says. A prime example is the ripping into the book, The Beauty of Short-Hops without having the decency to read it to provide a review.

I haven’t read the book either; judging from the accounts of the tale, it sounds ridiculous and presumably would be simple for someone of Neyer’s experience and baseball knowledge to tear to shreds.

So why hasn’t he read it to review it? Was it beneath him? Was it easier to write a snide posting and bail out?

His ESPN work had become so mistake-laden and tinged with an aura of “I’m doing you a favor by writing this” that his departure was only lamented by those who treated it as if it was some horrific gaffe by ESPN to let him leave.

“Sweet-natured and classy”? What’s that got to do with anything? Should Jeter’s charity-work be then accounted for because he does nice things? There’s no connection between personality and work in assessing it. That’s supposed to be the detached nature of stats; I’m simply telling a truth you don’t want to acknowledge.

You can call me dim, silly and sad; I couldn’t care less; but at the very least, people who read me know they’re getting actual work, research, care and accountability for what I say. Can Rob Neyer say the same? Can you?

Nick writes RE Mike Francesa and the Yankees:

I listened to the shows where he made both comments you are referring to. First, he’s absolutely right about the Yanks having a huge financial advantage largely from the multibillion dollar beast that is the YES Network. The Yanks of the 60′s you are referring to in comparison of a possible pending downfall is just stupid. What happened to the Yanks then has zero comparison to the change in finances and dynamics of today. Yes more teams are signing young players to long contracts but most of them only buy out a year or two of free agency so the idea the Yanks won’t have a shot at them or that teams won’t make them available in trades is delusional. In fact these contracts could FORCE teams to trade them before the deal expires if a team isn’t doing well financially since they would likely have been paying less if they went to arbitration. Talk about Mike…man your article is weak at worst and misleading at best. I don’t feel like typing anymore or I would continue. Good luck with that book.

Nick is referring to my posting on Mike Francesa’s delusions, ego and prevarications—A Diet Coke Sitz Bath, 4.28.2011.

There’s obviously a disconnect between either your reading comprehension or stuff between the lines that I neither said nor implied.

Where precisely did I say the Yankees don’t have a financial advantage over the rest of baseball?

Oh, wait….I didn’t.

They do have a financial advantage that didn’t do them any good whatsoever in the one player around whom they built their entire 2010-2011 winter strategy—Cliff Lee. Because Lee didn’t want to come to the Yankees; because Lee felt that the Yankees, with their age, issues and rough division didn’t have as great a chance to win as the Phillies did.

Whether or not that will be proven as prescient remains to be seen.

Yes, the Yankees will be able to get the veteran player making big money as clubs try to dump them; but the ability to make the Curtis Granderson-style trade for a youngish player because clubs are looking to slash salary is rapidly disappearing.

Will the Yankees get a Tim Lincecum in his prime? While he’s healthy and pitching well?

If he’s available and they overpay him as they did for CC Sabathia to leave his preferred West Coast? Yes.

The entire point of what I said is that I don’t believe he will be because of teams increased penchant for locking up their own young stars long term.

The Yankees will always have the ability to trade for or sign a Chris Carpenter because he’s older and wants his last paycheck or the Cardinals are looking to clear the salary and get a few prospects for a pitcher who isn’t going to do them much good on the field one way or the other.

Did I mention finances as the reason for the Yankees downfall in the 60s-70s?

Um…no. I didn’t do that either.

That club’s downfall was due, in part, to the dilapidation of the farm system and the advent of the amateur draft which limited the number of players whom the Yankees could coax to sign with them because of their history as “winners” and the “greatest organization in sports”; everyone had a fair shot at all the amateurs because of the draft; the Yankees drafted, developed and traded terribly; prospects didn’t pan out; injuries ruined the few stars they had and they collapsed as a result of these factors.

Do your research before coming at me. Or know what you’re talking about. Or take off the Yankees hat.

I’d thank you for the good luck wishes with my book, but for some reason, I doubt you’re being sincere.

I’ll muddle through.

Mike Luna in The Bleacher Seats writes RE Pedro Feliz and the Rangers:

Here’s what I do with Feliz: Give him the ball. Tell him he’s starting.

That’s it. We’re done here.

If he still needs incentive, explain to him that his number 1 pitch (100 mph FB) will one day give out on him and likely render him useless as a closer. Better to learn to start now and become more a pitcher than a thrower.

Feliz supposedly backtracked on the comments.

They should at least try him as a starter before relegating him to the back of the bullpen for the rest of his career; he’s 23; they can explain it to him in pure financial terms (or his representatives can) that he’ll make more money if he’s a decent starter than a very good reliever.

I don’t know what they’re going to do with him, but I can tell you this: the Rangers will put a very small amount of weight on what Feliz desires. If any at all.

Mike, The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE Jeter:

He should get his 3,000 hits and retire with his .300 lifetime batting average in tact. Why ruin it? Eventually the Yankees will drop him in the line-up if he keeps this up. And along the line he’ll be asked to switch positions. It’s just me talking…but I’d rather see him go out on top than to have to watch an unattractive decline.

I’m not prepared to say Jeter is finished based on one year of struggles.

He should be moved down in the lineup and this is one place where his reaction should be totally irrelevant. Manager Joe Girardi has a job to do and doesn’t have to explain to any player—even “the captain”—why he’s doing what he does. Jeter would be the first one to say publicly, “I don’t write the lineup” if he’s penciled in 7th rather than 1st. And that’s what Girardi should do.

He’s not getting his 3000th hit and retiring. One thing that grates on me is that he’s treated as if he’s hitting .220 for over a year. He’s not. He can still be a productive player and the Yankees have the bats to carry him even if he’s only a bit better than he is now.

I believe he’s got something left in the tank. The critics are piling onto the struggling animal now and will have much to apologize for when he starts hitting.

Will they? You tell me.

40 oz Liz writes RE Jeter:

They can have Jeter sell drinks, topless. Yes please!

Wearing Ken Rosenthal’s bowtie?

Then he’d earn the $50 million. But the critics would still be unswayed.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Neyer, Jeter and Broxton:

I’m just glad Neyer didn’t use the horse analogy on Jeet. No order of protection could save him if he did that.

Now that would be willy nilly overreaction based on a short sample size; sort of like benching Jeter; or shooting Broxton; or similar to the reactions to a reasonable question as to what to do with Jeter or stating a writer’s disinterest in providing quality content to his fans….oh, wait….


I’m administrating a discussion group on 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

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.


Contractual Relevance

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

What would’ve happened had the Yankees and Derek Jeter not waited until he was a free agent to agree to a new contract?

What if the sides had gotten together after the 2009 season—after another World Series and Jeter 3rd in the MVP voting with a fantastic all-around year—and agreed to the exact same contract he signed last winter?

It’s purely speculative and unrealistic to think that Jeter would’ve agreed to a 3-year extension for $51 million; presumably he, at the very least, would’ve wanted the fourth year guaranteed. And that probably wouldn’t have gotten it done considering what he accomplished in 2009 in an individual and team context.

But think about it.

What would’ve happened?

Would those that are currently engaging in retrospective and somewhat shortsighted eulogies of Jeter’s career be using the same rationale to attack the player and team for the contentious negotiations and the contract he signed? Or would it be different? Would the argument center on Jeter’s age and how stupid it was—2009 irrelevant—to sign him to an expensive, long-term contract until he’s 39?

Here are two important points that the critics are missing: the money is relatively meaningless to the Yankees; and they didn’t have many options aside from Jeter last winter.

Considering the amount of money the Yankees have wasted on players who have done little-to-nothing while in pinstripes—Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth, Hideki Irabu—is another $50 million that much considering it’s Jeter? Would the fallout of being ruthless as the internet musclemen seem to suggest and letting him leave have been realistic?

What could they have done this past winter in lieu of Jeter?

I suppose they could’ve tried to trade for a third baseman of the Mark Reynolds ilk and shifted Alex Rodriguez to shortstop; they could’ve made a move on Stephen Drew or J.J. Hardy; or they could’ve re-signed Jeter.

If Jeter was 30, the 2010 season would’ve been seen as a down year; the confluence of events—his free agency and age—make it appear as if the investment was unwise and his poor start is exacerbating that view, but I’ve never quite understood why outsiders are so concerned about how much money the Yankees spend as if there’s a payroll constraint. They have a $200 million payroll and have dealt with underperformance in relation to money forever. It’s the cost of doing business as the Yankees.

It wasn’t all that long ago (2005) that Jason Giambi was treated in much the same way as Jeter is now. Following the revelation that he admitted to using steroids, there were calls to try and void his contract; it didn’t help that Giambi wasn’t hitting at all through mid-season. Savaged in all aspects of the media, Giambi hit 14 homers in July and was suddenly the toast of the town again being asked if he remembered those who were so brutal in their assessment and desired punishment because he told the truth about his PED use. He said he remembered.

It goes with the territory for players to be judged on what they’ve done in recent history, but to imply that Jeter is finished and should be benched or shouldn’t have been re-signed in the first place ignores the other issues of what the alternatives were and are.

I have to believe that Jeter will eventually hit.

If he doesn’t, the Yankees will have to figure something else out. But to bury him now is counterproductive and reactionary;  it has the potential to come back and bite those partaking in it. They’re don’t stand behind what they say; they engage in the vitriol and move on with no consequences or need to retract apart from the occasional and wishy-washy, “well I guess I was wrong”.

It won’t do.

This pure arrogance and self-importance is inherent in the detached culture of “expertise” where the secondary tenet of the implication—accountability—is absent to begin with.


I was linked on Baseball Think Factory yesterday for my posting on Rob Neyer and Derek Jeter; the results were telling as always. It’s easier for the commenters to say the stuff they do without confronting me directly because then they’d have to deal with my response—something they’re incapable or unwilling to do.

But I’m here if they’d like to try.

Check it out—link.


I’m administrating a discussion group on 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 useful all year long; it’s not a preview with predictions and nothing else, it’s a guide and can help with your fantasy baseball stuff.

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

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.


Mean, Mean-Spiritied, Meaningless

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

Rob Neyer posted the following on Twitter yesterday about Derek Jeter:

Just to be clear about this … the issue isn’t *where* Captain Groundout bats in the lineup, but that he’s in the lineup at all.

Then, after that bit of analysis, Neyer sort of receded off into the background (much like leaving ESPN to be the lead editor—or something—on SBNation) and doesn’t provide a solution to the Yankees non-existent issue at shortstop.

So, what’s Neyer’s suggestion?

That the Yankees bench Jeter after a month?

Then what? Are they supposed to move Alex Rodriguez to shortstop and play Eric Chavez at third base? How long is Chavez going to stay healthy if he’s asked to play regularly? Statistically—what Neyer bases his interpretation on—is Chavez trustworthy after his annual disabled list forays with the Athletics over the past four years?

Or perhaps he wants the Yankees to start a controversy that manager Joe Girardi, GM Brian Cashman and the entire organization would not be able to withstand especially with all the other issues the team currently has.

Does he want them to play Eduardo Nunez?

What would he like them to do?

There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting; perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball; perhaps it’s a bitterness that comes from writing about an activity and longing so desperately to have their way seen as correct; or maybe they’re just obnoxious jerks.

But what’s the point of such short-sighted cruelty—without a solution—based on one month for a player who has been one of the best and most consistent players in baseball since 1996 and has played clean?

If Neyer came up with an answer of what to do with Jeter and backed it up with calm, cool reasoning—even if I disagreed with it (and I would; there’s nothing the Yankees can do with Jeter apart from letting him play and hoping this is a slump and not a Wile E. Coyote like plummet off the mountain)—then fine; instead, we get this nonsense.

In a posting about the Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton, Neyer said the following:

If Jonathan Broxton was a horse, they would shoot him.

This is totally unprofessional and unfunny in my opinion. I don’t go to that level and people consider me to be a raving lunatic.; Neyer worked for Bill James and was at ESPN for a long time, therefore he’s accorded credibility. In fact, when he left ESPN, it was treated as the biggest tragedy since the Hindenburg; you’d have thought he’d died.

It grated on me because I see through the laziness and agenda in which many of these so-called baseball experts wallow. I suspect ESPN is going to survive without Neyer’s five-line postings to advance whatever it is he believes, but we’ll see.

They’d shoot Broxton?

Captain Groundout?

It turns out that Broxton is hurt with an elbow problem; he should’ve said something before, but at least there’s a physical reason he’s slumping.

Regarding Jeter, isn’t the point of stat-based theory supposed to look at the player’s career history and come to a conclusion based on a bit more than 100 at bats?

Bench Derek Jeter? Really?

I would dearly love for these writers, bolstered by their perceived untouchability stemming from being on the internet (internet muscularity and courage) to have to confront the player against whom they utter this idiocy.

It wouldn’t happen, because then they might be held accountable for that which they say, write and tweet.

Besides that, the initial statements are meaningless because it’s MAY!!! Jeter still has time to rebound; the Yankees aren’t going to bench him despite the question of why he’s in the lineup to begin with.

It’s logical to ask the question of what’s 15 years compared to one month?

What are they supposed to do after benching him?

No answer is given to the throwaway line.

Because there isn’t one.

But I guess that doesn’t really matter, does it?


I’m administrating a discussion group on 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 useful all year long; it’s not a preview with predictions and nothing else, it’s a 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

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 Media’s Team

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

HBO Zone is showing Oz every night at 11:00 and last night’s episode centered around a prison riot in which the inmates took command. Naturally, it degenerated into a battle for control and some semblance of a government had to be formed. The same things that caused many of the characters’ incarcerations cropped up as they had neither the aptitude nor capacity to cope with inevitable issues of running any entity.

They thought they could run things, but couldn’t.

It led me to wonder what would happen if the the experts in the media were given a team to run.

Would their self-proclaimed expertise expressed in the newspapers, on the radio and television and online extend to being able to handle running an organization?

I’d love to find out.

I’d love it if MLB expanded with one more team—owned by MLB—with a reasonable payroll of $80-100 million; a farm system put in place three years before the big league club began playing; and some of the more abusive cheap shot artists and faux experts the media has to offer were placed in charge—real charge, not just as gimmickry.

I’m talking about Mike Francesa; Joel Sherman; Keith Law; Rob Neyer; Jon Heyman; Tim McCarver—I’m sure you have favorites of your own to add to the list.

What would happen?

I’ll tell you what would happen: reality would set in for the likes of Francesa and Sherman that they can’t say whatever they want and espouse their theories of baseball as if they have this innate knowledge that could be implemented and suddenly inspire the players to perform.

Both would be abused by their players and the other big league organizations.

Law’s regurgitation of scouting terminology and shaky in-the-trenches baseball knowledge would manifest itself quickly. Neyer’s obnoxious tone and laziness would last maybe five seconds.

I’m not saying this as an April Fool’s joke either. I’m serious. They’d have a budget; they’d have a GM, scouts—all media members—and one of them would have to manage the team. I’d make Sherman manage just to see him, with his deer in the headlights countenance and pompous condescension, be picked apart by the players. I guarantee he’d wouldn’t have the faintest clue how to handle people—one of the more important and undermentioned attributes a manager must have.

This wouldn’t be a “Ted Turner decides to manage” scenario as the former Braves owner pulled in 1977 when he sat in the dugout in uniform for one game, but didn’t really manage the team. The selected manager would have to manage the team. The coaches would be real, major league qualified coaches, but the manager is the manager.

So how would it go?

Would Francesa be able to navigate his way around the players and media like he does a case of Diet Coke and his callers?

Would Sherman, Heyman, Neyer, Law, McCarver (the only former athlete on my list—one who’s forgotten what it is to be a player) have any chance at all?

I think we know the answer, don’t we?

It’d be a train wreck of epic proportions. In fact, it’d be a nightmare. They wouldn’t know what to do; how to handle the players; the media; the lower levels of running a club like ticket sales and fan relations; they’d be at a loss with the humanity.

Would they learn a lesson?

I doubt it, but it’d be hilarious to watch.


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.


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


Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

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

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


Viewer Mail 3.11.2011

Books, Management, Players, Spring Training

Norm writes RE Moneyball and stat guys:

I have to support Paul here. The reason Billy Beane is his white whale or even bete noire is simple: the Moneyball sabermetric fans are taking over the sports business.


While I realize the dorks admit their stats are imperfect and are contantly trying to revise them, until they do develop the perfect stats, they should advance their cause with some humility. They should stop with the Joe Posnanski/Bill James shtick of ‘you thought the answer was A. Actually, the answer is B! Haha, you cretin!”
What it comes down to is this: if you were a team owner, would you trust a good squad of scouts to blanket a league and rate players, or would you save the money on scouts and just use ‘advanced analytics’ as they are currently presented?

And would you give Billy Beane any deference? In a post steroid world, where he cannot field an offence of slow white guys taking walks in front of juicehead sluggers?

Norm’s comment is exemplified in the visceral reaction to the new book that supposedly “blows the lid” off Moneyball. Such was the case with this snide posting from Rob Neyer in his new home on SBNation.

Neyer’s “best” shot?

“Anyway, I think I ordered this book months ago. Should be a hoot.”

Then, getting to the comments, you see the same reactionary, internet tough guy stuff that is always a hallmark of the last guy you want at your back in a dark alley. It’s weak and pathetic.

How about a cogent argument against their hypothesis without the snark?

Here’s a suggestion: read the book and come up with a detailed response rather than a vicious, mouthy retort based on something you haven’t read.

If Joe (Statmagician) ever contributed anything to this site, it was pointing out my constant harping on the phrase “stat zombie” creating an atmosphere of tension in which my own statements were secondary to my balled fists.

Calling names does no one any good.

Regarding that book “exposing” Moneyball, I doubt it’s of any use. There is a way to tear into Moneyball as it stands and it has nothing to do with disproving what Michael Lewis crafted, but taking the book and using it to destroy it in a calm, cannibalistic, point-by-point fashion.

Turn the tables and use Lewis’s own weapon to destroy Moneyball.

The men who wrote that new book can’t do it.

But I can.

And will.

The Other Mike in The Bleacher Seats writes RE me, Billy Beane and Moneyball:

I hope you know that nothing about my comment was meant to be taken seriously. Except for the bit about the white whale.

In what way hasn’t Billy Beane already failed? He’s still a GM, sure, but he’s never fielded a WS team and most of his time in office has been dominated by the Angels.

If I’m waiting for Beane to fail, I’ve been waiting too long.

I know you were kidding; people think I’m obsessed and I’m not; I’m trying to teach the same people who feel as if Moneyball allowed them to proclaim themselves as experts that there’s a true path to learning the game properly and it’s not through the eyes of a Michael Lewis, a man with an agenda and the writing skills to subtly twist the narrative in the direction he wanted it to go.

The other issue with Beane and the hardcore “stats above all else” advocates is that there’s always an excuse for the failure. Nothing is more idiotic than the “playoffs are a crapshoot” nonsense; it’s close, but not quite, on a level with the “card-counting in the draft”.

Only through me can you achieve a power great enough to learn the true nature of the Dark Side…

Joe (Dagodfather on Twitter) writes RE Zack Greinke:

I got good news for you. There IS a clause in a standard player’s contract that says that they are not allowed to participate in any activity where they can reasonably be injured that’s not associated with preparing for their game. The problem is can playing basketball be considered “preparing for their game”? I know that may sound strange but it’s a great cardio workout and helps with agility, leaping, and going side-to-side. It also helps keep up their natural competitive nature without doing anything illegal.

I’m aware of the contractual stipulation, Joe.

I doubt any team—barring a catastrophic injury—will give a player a hard time about playing basketball in the off-season.

A) there’s no way to stop them; B) they’re elite athletes who can handle an intense pickup basketball game; and C) it’s not a dangerous activity.

Greinke was unlucky. If I were paying him, I’d prefer he refrained from doing it, but it’s better than other trouble players tend to get into in the off-season.

My main thrust in the posting was that there’s an overreaction to a chance injury. Because it was Greinke and not a nondescript middle reliever, the club shrugged it off because they can’t do anything else.

One such overreaction came on MLB Trade Rumors in this posting.

First it’s straight reporting as to what the Rangers would’ve had to surrender to get Greinke; then there’s this:

“Now that Greinke has a cracked rib, the Rangers are probably glad they held onto their players.”

Where’s the connection?

I could see if he blew out his elbow pitching or had a recurrence of his off-field depression issues from early in his career; but because he cracked a rib playing hoops the Rangers are more pleased they didn’t gut their system to get Greinke?

They rejected a deal based on the price; the player was injured in an off-field incident that might not have happened had the trade been to the Rangers and not the Brewers. It’s a Terminator-style alternate reality, but maybe Greinke would’ve had a Rangers-related activity on the day he played basketball; perhaps he’d have been house-hunting in Texas; or whatever.

It’s a stupid assumption that the Rangers are “relieved” because of an accident.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Zack Greinke:

Put that way, I guess the teams don’t have much of a say in what their players do in the offseason. I recall (Ken Griffey Jr.) getting hurt “playing with his kids”… they certainly can’t ban that.

It’s all in context and depends on the player, his salary and value to the team. Greinke gets the vanilla reaction from the GM; if it was Wil Nieves, he gets released.

Joe (Statmagician) writes RE Moneyball:

Have you seen the movie ‘Pi?’ Moneyball is your “Pi,” Paul.

Pi, Darren Aronofsky’s first full-length film made on a shoestring budget in black and white—great movie.

You neglect to mention that the protagonist happened to be right in his attempts at exposing the truth.

Just like me with Moneyball.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon.