Friday, March 12, 2010

Everyone Has A Right To A Competent Defense

  • Unfortunately this is not a competent defense:

I swear I think some of these writers/columnists don't have the imagination or knowledge to come up with stories on their own, so they choose to be contrary and attack it from a different angle just "because". Because others haven't selected the same path; because it's easy to write the story when there's no conviction behind the premise to start with.

This is not analysis; it's not in-depth coverage. It's being lazy. What makes it worse is when there's not even an argument to be made in a cogent manner to make their position seem tenable. It's difficult to differentiate between a lack of conviction in coming to the wrong conclusion or a simple lack of knowledge.

No matter.

It's the same result.

In today's New York Times, William C. Rhoden goes to great lengths to defend the Phillies stupid decision to trade Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay rather than keep Lee to team with Halladay for a starting pitching duo that would send shivers throughout baseball----Column.

Rhoden's column proves that he doesn't know what he's talking about; and weakly attempts context switching as a means to justify the Phillies' idiocy.

The argument (ably assisted by Rhoden speaking to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr) is that the Phillies, having traded a chunk of their minor league system to get Lee from the Indians last summer, couldn't afford to gut the system further; they decided to "replenish". That replenishing would cost them Lee, but allow them to get Halladay from the Blue Jays.

Replenishing the system netted them a minor league closer (Philippe Aumont); a minor league outfielder (Tyson Gillies); and a minor league pitcher (Juan Ramirez) as they pretty much traded the players that the Blue Jays wanted last summer when the negotiations for Halladay hit a snag.

Wallowing in the Amaro excuse-machine, Rhoden leaps into the morass of silliness by comparing the decision of looking toward the future to the Indianapolis Colts choice to rest their starters late in the season to prepare for the playoffs rather than go for history with an undefeated record.

The clip:

The Phillies’ decision not to keep Halladay, Lee and Hamels together is not unlike the Indianapolis Colts’ curious decision to pass on going undefeated in the regular season. Coach Jim Caldwell, saying he was looking toward the Super Bowl, rested starters in the last two regular-season games.

Caldwell and the Colts passed up the here and now, and posterity, for a pie in the sky that never came, thanks to their Super Bowl loss to the New Orleans Saints. Amaro and the Phillies, also looking at the big picture, passed up an opportunity to out-Yankee the Yankees with a monster rotation.

You're sliding down the mountain at record speed when you even try to compare the preparation for the NFL playoffs to a Major League Baseball season. You can't, under any circumstances, equate what Caldwell and the Colts did to what the Phillies and Amaro did this past winter.

The Colts were heading for the playoffs as a number one seed; top heavy in that they weren't a team that could rely on a system to carry them through if they lost Peyton Manning; and had a reason----albeit questionable----for what they did. The NFL playoffs are in no way similar to a baseball season. The playoff spot was locked up for the Colts; their seed was guaranteed; there was no way for them to move up or go down and chasing history----while it would've been nice to go undefeated----was a speck in the big picture.

The Phillies decision was nothing like that.

The Phillies choice to trade Lee for Halladay didn't lift them any more from where they already were. The combination of Lee and Halladay guaranteed a playoff spot barring anything catastrophic; the trade of Lee keeps the Philllies among the rest of the National League and leaves them in very real jeopardy of not making the playoffs.

You can't compare the two.

They're not even in the same category.

It makes no sense.

Then, Rhoden argues against himself with some odd comparisons to the Braves of the 90s.

For Amaro, the model franchise is the Atlanta Braves, who won 14 division titles from 1991 to 2005 (the other year was cut short by labor troubles). Critics are quick to point out that the Braves won just one World Series championship in that period.

What made Atlanta intimidating was the core of its rotation for many of those years: John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.



Doesn't this argument sort of suggest that the Phillies should've kept Lee to form a threesome of Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels? Where's the comparison? Are they suggesting that the addition of a Double A closer and two other minor leaguers is going to build the foundation for what the Braves were in the 90s?

Did Rhoden have an intelligent conclusion in his head before going into this story? Or did he decide that he'd talk to Amaro and cobble something together to get his column done and ignore content?

Then, the topper. A quote from none other than Jimmy Rollins:

“You’d go into that series feeling you’d be lucky to get one game,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “It was like that for a lot of years with the Braves when I first came up. You’d be thinking: We got Smoltz, Glavine — oh good, Maddux threw yesterday, so we just have to get that third guy. We can win one out of three and salvage the series. That’s how you felt. Honestly.”

It sounds to me like Rollins wanted to keep Lee. And I can guarantee you----guarantee----that if you cornered the Phillies veterans and former GM Pat Gillick and, under the influence of truth serum, asked them whether they'd rather follow Amaro's blueprint of thinking long term or trying to win now with a rotation of devastation, they'd want the latter.

Do you really believe that the Phillies core----all in their 30s----care about the organization's future for 2012-2014? Seriously? They want to win now. NOW!!!! Keeping Lee would've made them prohibitive favorites for a third straight pennant; now they're a contender. Nothing more.

I'm not getting into the specious logic of what the Phillies did. I did so in the aftermath of the deal when there was no one----no one!!!----making similar statements. You can read the posting (my perfect masterpiece), The Phillies Sign Their Own Death Warrant if that's what you're looking for.

The bottom line is this, trading for a closer as the centerpiece of a deal that was ridiculous on and beneath the surface, and was not a way to build for the future. If you look at the great closers of past and present like Dennis Eckersley, Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon, not one was groomed as a closer. Not one. Teams happened to luck into finding a way to maximize these pitchers given their circumstances. It happened. It wasn't created nor was it intentional; so to sit there and claim that this Double A closer, Aumont, will justify severely damaging a title contender in the here and now, and the ground is already collapsing beneath your ill-informed feet.

I haven't taken Rhoden seriously since he made some nonsensical claims about Billy Wagner in a column from July of 2008----link.

Say what you want about Billy Wagner, but he never shied away from speaking and stood behind everything he said. He was incensed at the Rhoden allegation that he "opted to sit this one out". Wagner wanted an apology and retraction. He received neither.

Consider the source when reading Rhoden.

I can respect someone who comes up with a point-of-view based on deep-rooted belief with some semblance of logic behind it. Believe it or not, I do respect certain stat zombies for coming up with a strategy, even if they're wrong. But Rhoden is all over the place in his column as he tries to defend an indefensible decision and contradicts himself either through a lack of understanding, simple laziness or both.

He might just be a baseball imbecile.

That's a possibility too.

  • Jose Reyes's thyroid:

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes's elevated thyroid condition will not require medication, is expected to revert to normal with diet and rest and he's going to be out from 2-8 weeks and might miss opening day.

I don't see this as a giant problem. Reyes has an issue with his health; it sounds as if the Mets are taking a cautious approach and doing their due diligence to make sure similar things as happened in 2009 don't recur in 2010. They'll survive a brief time without Reyes.

What I would do if I were the Mets is, instead of relying on Alex Cora as the everyday shortstop in Reyes's absence, is to insert Ruben Tejada to play. Yes, he's only 20, but sometimes a youthful exuberance and accident of circumstance leads to something special. Look at the 1985 Cardinals with Vince Coleman. It won't hurt to roll the dice in this case and give the young player a chance to play in the big time.


theBrooklynTrolleyBlogger said...

With Lee the Phillies could have plowed through the NL East like Sanitation in two inches of snow. I would have opted for a BigThree. I think the Phils and your featured writer out-thunk themselves on this one.

Gabriel said...

I feel bad for Doc. He wanted to win, and he's going to get a chance, but it's not gonna happen.

She-Fan said...

I think the Mets are right to be cautious with Reyes, but it sounds like he'll be fine. That has to be good news for Mets fans.