- Peter Gammons may have lost more than his fastball:
I'm not going to sit here in judgment of someone who came as close to dying as Peter Gammons did with his brain aneurysm in 2006. One who hasn't experienced such a thing has no right to interpret what that does to a person's perspective. On the other hand, it doesn't allow for impunity. When Gammons is off on a relentless and somewhat strange crusade to defend one party and inadvertently disparage another, it has to be addressed.
Such is the case with the neverending stories of why the Red Sox allowed Jason Bay to depart without so much as a fight.
I've long said that Gammons has lost his fastball as a reporter and this was happening even before he was stricken ill. Never one to take cheap shots and known for getting his stories by cozying up to players and management and not going over-the-top in criticism even when it was justified, Gammons used his likability to break stories as they were happening. That said, Gammons was a slo-pitch softballer long before the embarrassing interview with Alex Rodriguez. I can remember the lollipops he flung at John Rocker at the height of the silly, nonsensical, WWE-style antics that eventually got Rocker bounced from baseball because of his attitude and baggage----helped along that he couldn't get anyone out anymore.
This makes it even more puzzling that he seems intent on defending the Red Sox for their conscious decision to walk away from Bay; and I have a question: What is his problem?
Never mind that he's got an unexplained lust for Theo Epstein; never mind that the Red Sox decision was made in part because they didn't want to pay Bay and in part because the voices in the organization seemed to be reluctant to move forward with the offense-first philosophy; there was an air of hesitation to keep Bay as if the club was a groom whose wedding date was rapidly approaching and they were looking for a way out by any means necessary. There's nothing wrong with a club making a choice to go in a different direction; but what's with all these leaks that are making Bay look like he's going to be in wheelchair before May is out?
Read the transcript from Gammons's interview on The Big Show and you'll see where this is going; how it seems that Gammons's connection to the Red Sox has clouded any attempt at objectivity. The relevant quote follows (Gammons's answers are italicized):
What was happening with the Jason Bay situation, with the Red Sox requesting surgery as a condition of the contract?
No they didn’t do that though. Joe Urbon also said no. They said there is a possibility that you might need surgery if this thing gets any worse. They didn’t tell him he had to have surgery, that wasn’t a condition.
So what happened with Jason Bay and the Red Sox?
They wanted him, but they were scared to death of his knees. I never got the impression from either side, from his agents or his club, that the shoulder was that big of a deal. But they were really afraid of both knees and that’s why they dropped the offer from four years to two years.
Somebody said to me, “Gee, there was only one team that went after him the Mets.” I said, “Yeah, you don’t think that the Angels have requested MRIs? You don’t think the Mariners have requested? They weren’t in on him either.”
The Mets were the only team in on Jason, which is unfortunate because he played his heart out for that team. He’s a great guy but there were serious physical concerns that were there, and Dr. Gill thought it was a tremendous risk to giving him a four-year contract without any questions. John Lackey went with [a contract with conditions] and JD Drew went with it.
Bay’s people made it sound like the Red Sox doctors were the only ones who felt that way about the physical.
Yeah, but again, and I have great respect for [Red Sox team physician, Dr.] Tom Gill, the other opinions they had there were questioned by the agent. It’s a he-said, she-said. The fact is Tom Gill was very afraid of it, as were the other orthopedics at Mass General, and when the club studied it they said they didn’t want to guarantee four years.
It's "unfortunate" that the Mets were the only team in on Bay? Is Citi Field a gulag? Have things dwindled to Pittsburgh Pirates-like lows with the club that no one wants to play for the Mets under any circumstances anymore, nor should they? What does that comment mean?
This whole thing brings to mind the main reason that Pedro Martinez was traded from the Dodgers to the Expos (for Delino DeShields!!!): Tommy Lasorda thought Pedro was too small to make it as a starter long-term and doctors thought he'd break down.
How'd that work out?
Not only did Pedro become one of the top three pitchers of this generation, but it lit a fire under him to shove it to Lasorda and the Dodgers-----and he did it.
Why is there this campaign to defend the Red Sox for letting Bay leave? It's as if the stories are being planted in a friendly ear like Gammons to justify and explain away the coming season before it even starts in case things spiral downward because of a change from power to pitching and defense on the part of the club.
What difference does it make now? The Red Sox claim they wanted Bay back, but made an offer knowing that the Mets would offer him more money and the four guaranteed years that Bay wanted. Like grasping for an outlet, the diagnosis of the team doctors being "scared to death" of Bay's knees gave them the escape hatch to do what they clearly wanted to do to start with and didn't know how to get it done----let Bay leave; sign John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre, and try a different strategy.
And there's nothing wrong with that.*
*There will be once the season is underway and the fans get a load of the new look, moderately punchless Red Sox and they fall too far behind the Yankees to catch them before they make a desperation move to remedy the problem, but that's neither here nor there.
Drumming up a mob mentality in the "wag the dog" style is easy. There will be numbers and results to salve the wounds of the club and their fans if things go wrong, but people who think rationally will know the truth.
Gammons and others have this affinity for Epstein and the Red Sox that's baffling. No one wants to criticize them when they do wrong or make a mistake. How many times has the club been trying to pull off "shock the world" three and four team trades with the clock winding down? They've managed it several times; other times they've been left sitting there looking like the kid caught with his finger jammed up his nose.
Because of the club's success in the Epstein era, they've been shielded from much criticism, they certainly don't need someone who like Gammons, who has had a wonderful Hall of Fame career, providing alibis for them as if he's their one-man PR crew defending them before the fact. The more these stories come out, the more it looks like the Red Sox want Bay to get hurt; they want the Mets to collapse; not for any reason other than that it will build a fortress around their own questionable decisions this winter. It's going to get worse if the Mets are playing well and Bay is hitting and things in Boston don't go according to the computer model for the Red Sox.
Are we going to hear about this all winter? It's done; it's over; and the Red Sox won't let it go. The choice was made. Move along. The season's going to be here before we know it; then the games will be played on the field and the accuracy of the Red Sox doctors and the reality of the Mets decision to pay Bay will be seen in action. Maybe he'll break down; maybe he'll be an MVP candidate for the Mets. We won't know nor will we be able to judge until after the fact. This smear campaign is so transparent, it's sickening; and I expected better from a Hall of Famer like Peter Gammons.
- Where would we be without PECOTA:
Our good friends at Baseball Prospectus have come out with their projected 2010 standings based on PECOTA. Since they did so well last year, of course it makes sense to take this with absolute seriousness. Here's PECOTA's 2009 projections if you'd like to judge----link.
Nate Silver's "brilliance" at numbers crunching is based on little more than his pick of the Rays to improve drastically in 2008. Yeah. He had them winning 82 games; my non-stat zombie approach had them winning 76. But I was lucky in that prediction. Similarly to other calls from 2009 that few others had (the Marlins, Giants, Rays, etc.), but they had the numbers that justified their predictions even if they were flat out wrong and explained them away. It's luck, right?
That makes sense.
Be that as it may, here are the 2010 projected standings.
I'm not commenting now. Others are doing fine on their own. My response/retaliatory strikes are in the planning stages and will be begun in earnest on Monday in my bunker. (Knock at your own risk.) Suffice it to say I will again lay waste to PECOTA with my relentless, coordinated and precise attacks.
What the unfathomable belief in PECOTA's accuracy despite practical evidence to the contrary is doing is reminding me of the scene in The Empire Strikes Back as Darth Vader responds to the incompetence of an inept underling by saying:
He is as clumsy as he is stupid.
General, prepare your troops for a surface attack.
You don't need to be told the fate of the "clumsy" and "stupid" party in that case.
I'm PECOTA's and the stat zombies' personal Dark Lord of the Sith.
Except I'm worse.