Monday, January 25, 2010

Thome Or Not Thome

  • Ozzie Guillen will make the call on Jim Thome's return:

The interesting dynamic between White Sox GM Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen has the two trusting one another to such a point that Williams is allowing such an important decision as whether or not to re-sign Jim Thome to be made by the manager----ESPN Story.

Guillen's pondering regarding Thome has more to do with the number of at bats he'll be able to give the veteran slugger than any analysis of whether or not Thome can still contribute----he undoubtedly can----but would the White Sox be better with Guillen's plan of a rotating DH with Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, Tyler Flowers and a couple of others? If it was me, I'd bring Thome back, but I can understand the argument for keeping that flexibility. According to Guillen, the decision will be made by today.

The relationship between Williams and Guillen is unlike almost any other in baseball. It's rare to have a GM as prominent, opinionated and fearless as Williams allow his manager to make such a call and it's a window into how confident Williams is in his own position and in the judgment of his manager.

People----myself included----have often wondered how Williams is able to tolerate the frequent bouts of lunacy that accompany Guillen wherever he goes; Nuclear Ozzie goes off on anyone at anytime and has at times challenged his GM to the point where anyone else would've fired him. Not Williams.

It may be because Williams is able to separate a person's reputation with who that person really is and what he brings to a club. How else do you explain his penchant for acquiring players with bad reputations and troubled pasts like A.J. Pierzynski and Bobby Jenks and getting them to produce and behave?

It's the same thing with his manager.

There are times in which I'm sure Williams would like to strangle Guillen; but he doesn't let that interfere with a cold analysis of the positives and negatives of Guillen. What's lost amid the off-the-wall comments and meltdowns that happen about five times a year (at least) with Guillen is what a savvy baseball mind he is. He's crazy, but he's not stupid. He has a temper, but he doesn't let that affect him negatively.

There's no simmering anger between the two; everything is on the table. Both men respect one another and knows where the other stands even when they disagree. It might seem like a chaotic and odd way to run a club, but if more GMs and manager worked in tandem in such a way, understood each other and what the sides bring to the table and were able to take all that energy created by disagreement, they might be a lot better off and have a similarly solid relationship on and off the field.

  • Another contract extension doled by the Phillies:

The Phillies signed catcher Carlos Ruiz to a 3-year contract extension worth $8.85 million. To me, that's a lot of money for Carlos Ruiz even with the way he crushes in the playoffs. This is another overpayment/odd maneuver for the Phillies in this head-scratching off-season. The team that couldn't afford Cliff Lee now is on the hook for the following guaranteed contracts (we'll exclude the essentials like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley):

Roy Halladay: $60 million through 2012 (age 33)

Joe Blanton: $24 million through 2012 (age 29)

Raul Ibanez: $23 million through 2011 (age 38)

Brad Lidge: $23 million through 2011 (age 33)

Jimmy Rollins: $16 million through 2011 (age 31)

Jayson Werth: $7 million for 2010 (age 31)

Cole Hamels: $16 million through 2011 (age 26)

Jamie Moyer: $6.5 million in 2010 (age 47)

Placido Polanco: $18 million through 2012 (age 34)

Shane Victorino: $22 million through 2012 (age 29)

Ryan Madson: $9 million through 2012 (age 29)

J.C. Romero: $4 million for 2010 (age 34)

Danys Baez: $5.25 million through 2011 (age 32)

Chad Durbin: $2.25 million for 2010 (age 32)

Greg Dobbs: $1.35 million for 2010 (age 31)

Brian Schneider: $2.5 million through 2011 (age 33)

Ross Gload: $2.6 million through 2011 (age 34)

Far be it from me to question contracts and salaries. The only time the amount of money a player receives is an issue for me is when there's blatant hypocrisy and spin-doctoring (see the Red Sox of Boston); or if money issues----real or claimed----prevent a club from doing what they need to do to be the best that can be.

In looking at some of the above contracts, are you still buying the nonsense that the Phillies would've been unable to afford to keep Lee?

The amount of money they've thrown out the window on the likes of Jamie Moyer and Greg Dobbs; the diminishing returns on Brad Lidge and Raul Ibanez; and the bizarre extensions they've given to Ruiz and Victorino among others, along with said players advancing ages, makes it clear that in their attempts to do the "right" thing in keeping a championship team predominately together, they've missed out on an important factor----doing what's perceived as the "right" thing isn't the same thing as doing the smart thing.

It's easier for Amaro to keep what was there to begin with and make the trade for Halladay (that almost everyone was afraid to question) than it would've been to be bold, keep Lee, and possibly sacrifice the likes of Victorino in the next year or two.

These contracts are going to cost them. This team is going to take a fall this year and are a good bet to utterly collapse by 2012. It's happened before and it's happening before our eyes with the Phillies.

  • A most disturbing thing about the Pirates:

I was thinking about the Pirates signing of Octavio Dotel to be their closer and it's not simply that they have a better option in-house in Joel Hanrahan to close games that's the biggest issue for me; the biggest issue for me is that the Pirates "braintrust" doesn't realize that Hanrahan is better; that Hanrahan should be allowed to learn the job now while they're supposedly (in theory anyway) trying to build for the future.

What possible good does it do the Pirates to have Dotel at age 36 closing games for them? If it were a veteran closer who'd actually been good at the job, it'd be one thing; but Dotel was always shaky as a closer; he gives up too many homers and if one thing goes wrong, he unravels. What's he going to teach Hanrahan? The Pirates have no chance at competing this year; they're going to lose over 90 games again; why not give the young power arm of Hanrahan a yearlong education in closing rather than sign a pitcher that they're only going to trade at mid-season anyway?

Why I bother asking these questions is a mystery to me. They're the Pirates for a reason----questionable signings, stupid trades and misreading of talent has made them into what they are. Their construction is an end unto itself; and that end is located at 68-94, last place; they reside in the basement and have little chance of upward mobility anytime soon.

  • Viewer Mail 1.25.2009:

Joe at Statistician Magician writes RE Jason Bay and the Red Sox:

The Red Sox have showed a willingness to lock up players for more than they are worth (on a few regrettable occasions). Both Varitek and Lowell have been well overpaid the past few seasons.

Sure, the organization is cutthroat. But I wouldn't want it any other way. I don't want them holding onto players simply because they are good guys and have played well in the past. I want production.

If they were concerned at all about Bay's health, then they very well should have tried to cover their asses. Bay was a questionable signing at four years to begin with. If health concerns were a reality, then what is wrong with trying to add in some protection for the club?

It is simple, you value Jason Bay much more than the stat guys do. You see a middle of the order bat who probably is better defensively than given credit for.

We see a terrible UZR, and poor defensive metrics across the board. A guy whose 'WAR' was only 3.5 in a perceived "great" year by the average fan. And we see a player who has skills that will take a hit in the coming years, based on age.

It is simply a difference in philosophy.

My question regarding Bay----which no one appears willing to answer----is if he was so terrible; was such a great physical risk; and a defensive liability, then why did the Red Sox want him back to begin with? Why not cut the tethers, let him leave and go "defense, defense, defense" as they've done since? Why?

The Red Sox can run their team any way they want, but what irks me is this Holier than Thou attitude that comes from their reliance on stat zombie tenets when it conveniences them and ignoring them at other times when they have to, as you put it, "cover their asses". Logically, when they collapsed at the end of the 2006 season, a cold rational person would've realized that the collapse had little to do with hitting coach Ron Jackson, but who got fired?

The "don't blame me" attitude is the epitome of self-protection. As I said yesterday, John Henry loses out on Jose Contreras, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, they want a salary cap; Theo Epstein isn't getting the credit he wants, he throws a tantrum and quits; Pedro Martinez and Jason Bay leave because they feel unappreciated, rip them on the way out the door after trying to keep them.

I can tolerate the way stat guys run their clubs----at least they're consistent in what they believe even though they fail miserably. The Red Sox are supposedly teeming with stat guys, but when the stats don't add up into what they expected on the field, they use money to repair the mistakes that have been legion.

I can't take hypocrisy; so what's going to happen this year at mid-season when they're 8 games behind the Yankees, fading and fighting with the Twins and Mariners for the Wild Card? Are they going to panic and trade for Adrian Gonzalez? Or are they going to stick to their floating "plan"? You know the answer to that even if you refuse to admit it.

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Tim Lincecum:

People say the same thing about Roy Oswalt, that he'll break down due to small stature. So far, so good.

Oswalt's frame is sturdier than Lincecum's. If you compare the two, Lincecum is tiny; Oswalt, despite only standing around 5'10" is wider through the torso and in his powerful legs. I never had similar durability concerns about Oswalt that I do Lincecum.

On another note with Jeff, I knew I'd seen the Harold Reynolds/"here's a guy" discussion someplace and Jeff wrote about it here almost a year ago to the day.

Here's a guy----my Underboss----who's ahead of the curve. I pick quality people for my crew.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jose Contreras/Patrick Ewing:

Patrick Ewing did sweat a lot. But he was running up and down a basketball court. Contreras sweats standing in one place waiting for the manager to come take him out of the game!

Wait til the Phillies fans get hold of him after gacking up a lead. He'll melt.

Isaac at A Baseball Thing writes RE the Phillies:

In all fairness to Halladay, Amaro hadn't proved his incompetence yet when Halladay was asking for the trade. And at least for this year, the Phillies still have a better chance at the playoffs than the Blue Jays do. The Red Sox might be worse than last year, but they'll still beat toronto, and the Rays are still better than a Halladay-less Blue Jays club. The Phillies got worse, but no one in the division got significantly better.

You can't really compare the Blue Jays----a rebuilding club stuck in the Halladay bear trap sprung by J.P. Ricciardi----and the Phillies----twice running National League champs. The NL East has gone from total panic at the prospect of dealing with Halladay and Lee to looking at the series of ill-thought-out deals the Phillies have made and been emboldened thinking they have a chance.

The Blue Jays are undergoing a positive transformation now that the dark cloud of Ricciardi is gone; it helps that new GM Alex Anthopolous really seems to know what he's doing.

Getting Halladay for the Phillies? Good move. Trading Lee for Halladay? Bad move. And they're going to pay for it figuratively and literally.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

The feeling around here (the Southside of the Chi) is that the Thome thing may be more of a feel-good story than anything else (he's from Peoria; ingrained in the community; fan favorite). I think everyone's ready for the new and improved go-go-white-sox to show up... not the base clogging 3 run-homer variety which Thome was the center of. But, as usual, everyone just sorta leaves it up to Kenny. The man (Kenny Williams that is) is a true leader.