Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From The People Who Brought You Julio Lugo...

  • The Red Sox focus on defense began from within...specifically with self-defense:

So what's next in this whisper campaign trying to discredit Jason Bay?

First his defense is so horrific in left field that the Ted Williams statue outside Fenway would have slightly less range.

Then his shoulders were in such poor shape that the club didn't want to up the offer to keep him.

Now it's been revealed that the Red Sox and Bay had agreed on a 4-year, $60 million contract at mid-season, but conflicting medical views on the condition of Bay's knees led the Red Sox to reduce the offer to something that was clearly designed to fail----NESN Story.

What's next?

Jason Bay is a jewel thief.

Jason Bay has ties to organized crime.

Jason Bay wanted for questioning in Massachusetts-area serial killings.

Jason Bay is not a generous tipper.

It's becoming ludicrous; and this is a byproduct of the paranoia and floating self-justifications prevalent in Boston during the John Henry/Theo Epstein era. From the time Epstein took over there were always an aura of "we'll say and do this now and worry about later later because we can always adjust our story".

It's evidenced by the "closer-by-committee" failure in 2003; to the silliness of the Epstein "resignation" and the gorilla suit therein in an ego-related battle for power and credit; to the "now and for the future" nonsense during the lost year of 2006; to the mountain of money they threw at all their problems to placate an angry fan base for 2007; and now the fortress they're building as they hedge their bets with the worry that the new emphasis on defense won't work.

Clearly, the signings of Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre and the questioning reactions to these decisions----along with the choice to let Jason Bay leave----are hitting home to the point that stories are filtering out to lay the foundation of excuses for failure.

The standard operating procedure of this team is unmistakable. Fans are unsure of what to make of the idea that the lack of punch in their lineup will be counteracted by a new emphasis on pitching and defense; that lack of conviction is leading to a rip job on a player who was nothing but a loyal Red Sox; a player who behaved and performed beyond reproach; one who desperately wanted to stay in Boston----Jason Bay.

They can quote all the numbers they want as to why this approach will work; why the gloves of Beltre and Cameron will yield just as much productivity as the power bat they're losing in Bay, or what they could've acquired in Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, or Matt Holliday; why they've calculated the value of the runs they'll save and how the power bat won't be necessary with their pitching and defense.

But if they're so confident in their beliefs, then why do these stories keep coming out? If the numbers and sabermetric theories are so sacrosanct, why do they change on the fly at the first sign of trouble?

For those who treat the Red Sox organization as infallible, I have two words: Julio Lugo. And two more words: Daisuke Matsuzaka; and three more words: closer by committee.

It goes on and on.

This club has the prospects and the money to get whichever player they want; we'll see how quickly they alter course if they see a playoff spot in jeopardy in June as they fall hopelessly behind the Yankees and are in a dogfight for the Wild Card. Will the Padres demands for Gonzalez no longer be so incongruent with the "future" they so often refer to? With the faux budgetary constraints they claim?

It's funny how the darlings of the media are allowed such leeway in their public stances. Everyone loves the Red Sox because they're bastions of data and scouting----backed up by money; but when they strategically drop these little bombshells such as the continued and growing list of reasons why they let Bay leave, you have to question the motives. If they believe so strongly that they did the right thing, why not take the high-road and let the past go?

Bay's a Met now; the Red Sox are a scrappy, pitching and defense club working within a budget. We'll see who was right in the coming months, but the every man for himself attitude can't be lost on the players; the ruthless player personnel decisions of the Red Sox----most of which have worked----don't have to extend to kicking a guy when he's long out the door to shield the organization from criticism. It's called class. Maybe they should try it sometime.

  • Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?

With baseball echoing the need for "financial sanity", three deals yesterday struck me as a little out-of-line with performance:

Aaron Heilman----$2.15 million from the Diamondbacks.

Jody Gerut----$2 million from the Brewers.

Chad Durbin----$2.125 million from the Phillies.

Am I mistaken in thinking that these are bizarrely high salaries for two pitchers who plainly and simply aren't that good; and a journeyman outfielder?

Heilman wants to be a starter; is with his fourth organization within a year; he gives up so many home runs and is so scarred by his high-profile failures as a reliever that the only option with him now is to make him a starter and hope. Is that worth $2.15 million? Would it be hard to find a similar pitcher for a quarter of what Heilman's set to earn?

Gerut had an awful year in 2009 with the Padres and Brewers and has a history of injury that make him a giant risk and most certainly not worth $2 million.

Durbin returned to earth in 2009 after a fantastic 2008 in which he was an integral part of the Phillies bullpen in their championship year. Does anyone think he's going to return to that level again? And he's going to be paid over $2 million? For what?

These are just three examples of teams overpaying for lower echelon talent; talent that is easily replaceable. While I disagree with many things Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has done, one thing he's been absolutely great at is finding pitchers on the scrapheap, signing them, sticking them in his bullpen and getting great use out of them cheaply only to dispatch them when they become too expensive knowing he'll be able to repeat the process. The Marlins do the same thing.

With the bullpen, the proper strategy is to pay for your closer; pay for a good, reliable set-up man and slot in the other spots with fill-ins. For a backup outfielder, you can certainly find someone more reliable than Jody Gerut.

I'm not on-board with whining about the salaries of the top tier and star-level players like Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Felix Hernandez, et al. You get what you pay for in both the cases of the star player and the journeyman. Paying such comparatively lucrative salaries to the likes of Heilman, Gerut and Durbin rarely works out and it's something that needs to be reconsidered very seriously.

  • Begging and pressuring is never attractive----and it rarely works:

I'm referring to dealings with women, but the above statement applies in other areas as well.

Jim Edmonds proved he could still play after he was released by the Padres in 2008 and helped the Cubs win the NL Central; it was a surprise that no one signed him last year because he still had use. I felt Edmonds was totally shot after seeing how horrid he was with the Padres, but that might've been a result of playing for the Padres more than anything else.

Edmonds's massive power numbers from his prime Cardinals days are *suspect*; and his range in center field is gone; but could he help someone as an extra outfielder? Why not? He's a better risk than Jody Gerut, that's for sure. The problem is when someone is so desperate that they do things such as publicly putting people on the spot as Edmonds is currently doing with the Cardinals----ESPN Story----it's a bit unseemly.

If I were the Cardinals, I'd bring Edmonds into camp and have a look----what's the difference?----but this could've been handled more deftly by Edmonds himself. Desperation is a repellent; not an attraction no matter the venue.

  • Viewer Mail 1.19.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Johnny Damon:

I hope Damon takes your advice!

I have a 74% success rate of people taking my advice. I don't think Johnny Damon listens to anyone aside from Scott Boras because he doesn't like to (or hasn't the capability) to think for himself. He's made some bad choices this winter.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE steroids:

Probably the only way the whole steroids issue is going to be forgotten is when the last of the steroid era has been removed from the Hall of Fame ballot, either because of its induction or else.

McGwire/Palmeiro won't be the test cases. The test cases will be Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds----both of whom are worthy of induction because they were Hall of Famers before they allegedly started using PEDs. Whether they get in or not will be the indicator of how this whole era is treated and perceived. I'd vote for both Bonds and Clemens without hesitation; the old-school voters? I dunno.

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Pirates and Jack Clark:

I would applaud MLB stepping in to take the reins away from current Pittsburgh ownership/management. What a joke.

As for Jack Clark, I love the guy and all, but he really is one of those guys who just likes to hear himself talk. Remember when he ripped your '86 Mets calling them ALL cheaters, fakes, phonies? This ain't the first time.

And if he feels so passionate about it, why wait until now to say something so harsh? He's had plenty of time to get these soundbites in. Having followed Clark for most of his career, I think he was looking for a way to re-establish his dominance as the go-to Cardinals slugger... especially right before his appearance at the winter warm up, which was all about creating drama for drama's sake.


The problem with MLB getting involved with the Pirates is they already have Frank Coonelly----a former senior VP in the Commissioner's office---as the club president and he's participating in this travesty. You'd never have thought they could've found someone worse than Dave Littlefield, but they somehow managed it.

With Clark, believe me when I say I had no love for him whatsoever during the mid-80s when the Mets-Cardinals rivalry was nearly as vicious as Yankees-Red Sox/Dodgers-Giants. He's a bit of a drama queen, but I love it when guys don't stick to the "book of quotes" and speak their mind, even if it's a notoriously over-the-edge.

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE the Twins:

Didn't the Twins acquire JJ Hardy? :)

Joe's right. I forgot completely about the Twins trade for J.J. Hardy, making my statement that they've done "nothing" inaccurate.

They can still use a bat for third base and some pitching help. They're walking a fine line considering how good the White Sox are going to be. You can't let the season come down to the final weekend every year and consistently expect to have it work out.

  • The Prince on the Podcast:
Here's the link to my Podcast appearance on SportsFanBuzz----Prince on the Podcast. You can't handle the truth!!!!


Jeff said...

Ah, yes, the Red Sox whine-fest continues. I'm pretty numb to it all now, though I have to say I thought it would all end in 2004.

I was wrong.

And I have a feeling it'll be a looooooong time before the old schoolers let Bonds/Clemens in.

She-Fan said...

Jason Bay is a jewel thief. LOL! I guess Nomar, Pedro and Damon are too. They all got dissed after leaving Boston.

Joe said...

The Red Sox aren't exactly working on a budget this season. They will invest about $160 million into the payroll. And they have spent about $33 million on Lackey, Cameron, and Beltre this off-season. A lot of money comes off after the season though in Ortiz, Lowell, and Lugo.


Gabriel said...

Let's form a group to manage the Pirates: Joe in charge of the stats, Jeff and I in charge of scouting, Jane as the PR consultant and Paul as the GM. Maybe we could get them in contention in 6 years.