- The fantasmical world of Francesa/Waldman:
I only heard snippets of Suzyn Waldman's appearance on Mike Francesa's radio show the other day (it was more than enough; more than I could stand) but there were a few themes they touched upon, sharing their usual brand of non-existent baseball expertise that is consistent only in that they're always wrong.
Here's the brilliance (paraphrased from memory):
The idol worship of Roy Halladay:
They would not shut up about Halladay. His work ethic; his influence; his old-school ways; how the Phillies younger pitchers like Kyle Kendrick are following him around like baby ducks----all are important; all will help----but to think that you can take a Kyle Kendrick and turn him into a Roy Halladay by mimicking everything Halladay does is ignoring the limits of a person's physical ability.
You can't turn sausage filler into Chateaubriand.
That's not to imply that sausage filler doesn't have use, but it is what it is and won't ever be anything more than that regardless of the recipe or genius of the master chef doing the teaching. The veteran counterman at your local deli is never going to be Gordon Ramsay.
I have the greatest respect for Halladay. The way he carries himself as the quiet gunslinger is something that pitchers should aspire to, but the Francesa/Waldman yammering was so far over the top; the credit and defense of the Phillies stupid decision to trade Cliff Lee to get Halladay (that Francesa and Sweeny Murti babbled about as well) was missing a couple of important factors.
One, in all his years with the Blue Jays, doesn't it make sense that Halladay was functioning in a similar way with his teammates? That he was teaching and preaching and trying to get them to follow his lead?
How'd that work out? Aside from one season, was A.J. Burnett ever able to partially copy Halladay's classic durability and greatness? What about the youngsters like Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch? All three got hurt. Then you look at the list of pitchers the Blue Jays plugged into their rotation behind Halladay; names like Mark Hendrickson; Kelvim Escobar; Doug Davis; Cory Lidle; Josh Towers; Ted Lilly; Miguel Batista----and you say, maybe he influenced them, but they weren't able to exceed what it was that they could be, what they could do.
If you look at the Blue Jays during the Halladay years, they were never, ever anything more than an also-ran. Not once did they realistically contend for a playoff spot. Part of that is due to being in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox; but part of it is due to the club not having the talent to be legitimate playoff team. Sure, some of their records were glossier on the surface than what they really were. An 87-75 record and second place finish and being within striking distance of a Wild Card spot doesn't signify realistic contention.
If anything defined the Blue Jays during the Halladay era, it was that. Aside from the years in which they were the essence of mediocrity at 78-82 wins, they never contended. They'd stumble along at or around .500 for much of the season, get hot late in the year and end with a respectable record making the "experts" think they were a team to watch----and they'd do the same thing again the next year. Halladay or not, they were what they were.
In a similar vein, greatness is what it is. You can't teach it; you can't mold it; you can't create it in a laboratory. The maximization of skills with a tweak here and there or even a complete remastering can reform something that was being misused and fashion that entity to its full potential; but if that potential isn't much better than a back-of-the-rotation starter/long-reliever/Triple A filler, then what?
To believe that Halladay influencing the likes of Kendrick will make the useful but limited pitcher into Roy Halladay is nonsense.
Roy Halladay is Roy Halladay.
Kyle Kendrick is Kyle Kendrick.
There's a reason for this.
It's called ability. You can't teach it. Either you have it or you don't.
"The Blue Jays are gonna lose 100 games":
The Blue Jays are not going to lose 100 games.
They're rebuilding; they're starting anew without Halladay and without J.P. Ricciardi; they're going to trade the last veteran, movable remnants of the Ricciardi era (Lyle Overbay); but they're not going to lose 100 games.
They have such a cache of young starting pitching and an offense that is limited, but okay; and their bullpen isn't so bad that they're going to be Padres/Pirates horrific.
The Blue Jays do need to bring in a younger manager; they need to give their young bats like Travis Snider a chance to play. If Edwin Encarnacion doesn't continue to be a dunderhead and hits; if Adam Lind and Aaron Hill come close to their 2009 production, the Blue Jays will score enough to prevent falling to 100-loss depths. They might not even lose 90 games.
"The AL East has three 90-win teams":
The geniuses (and not just Waldman and Francesa) said the same thing last year. What happened? Ah, muck beasts, will you never learn?
The idea that the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are all going to win 90 games is simple ignorance, a lack of foresight and intuitiveness combined with talking out of their asses because they haven't looked at the circumstances surrounding the Red Sox and Rays.
The Red Sox do not have enough hitting to compete with the Yankees. Period. I'm not sold on John Lackey as the solution to their rotation issues; Daisuke Matsuzaka is degenerating into a nightmare; and Tim Wakefield can't be counted on physically. Not only are they going to have to worry about finding a bat, but they might need a starting pitcher too.
The AL West is a torture chamber; the Central has two teams battling it out for the division in the Twins and White Sox and both are better than the Red Sox. If the Red Sox were balking at Padres GM Jed Hoyer's demands for Adrian Gonzlaez in the winter, they'd better be ready for what he's going to want in July because it's going to be worse. Much worse.
The Rays, despite the way their front office is being referred to as "brilliant" are in slight disarray. They too need a managerial change; and they're going to trade Carl Crawford. Where are they winning 90 games? If they have another bolt from the blue in which everything they do works as happened in 2008, then okay; but right now? There are more questions than answers in Tampa; and in a vicious division and brutal league, that doesn't add up to 90 wins. Sorry.
Suzyn Waldman is a fool. Plain and simple. She knows nothing about baseball and embarrasses herself on a daily basis with her arrogant clownishness.
Mike Francesa portrays himself as an insider expert who just "knows" things that others don't. Well, he doesn't. During the Olympics, he openly admitted that he knows nothing about hockey. If we can somehow, some way get him to come to the same realization about baseball, we'll be getting somewhere.
It's not happening. All we can do is remember the stupid statements recounted above and point them out as things come apart on their predictions. They'll find a way to justify them, but you'll know the truth then if you didn't know it already.
- Suddenly the Mets farm system doesn't look all that bad:
With Ike Davis doing a more powerful imitation of John Olerud (their swings are remarkably similar from the quiet way in which Davis waits for the pitch to his follow through and top hand coming off the bat); with Jenrry Mejia looking devastating; with Ruben Tejada hitting, running and fielding all over the place; and Fernando Martinez stinging the ball after superlative winter league season, could it be that the "decimated and destitute" Mets system isn't so bad after all?
There are a couple of other names to note like Reese Havens and Josh Thole.
All of this is lending credence to the thought that the Mets did have the chips to get Halladay if they wanted to follow the Phillies lead and gut the system to do it.
It was highly unlikely because Halladay had his heart set on Philly and the Mets weren't going to pay another pitcher the money it would've cost to get him especially with Cliff Lee going free agent after 2010. (GM Omar Minaya is in love with Cliff Lee; he tried to get him over-and-over again before the Mets had become the media punching bag that they've been for the past couple of years.)
All this does is shine a light on how stupid the Phillies really were in banking on a Double A closer, Philippe Aumont, as the centerpiece of maintaining a "healthy" minor league system. Their farm system is demolished and they made a lateral move with Halladay for Lee.
After the trade with the Indians for Lee----in which they gave up a lot, don't listen to garbage from the likes of Keith Law----and the trade of Lee to get Halladay and Aumont, the Phillies are going to be in trouble by 2011. Big trouble.
Don't tell me how smart they've been because they did a dual pronged bit of stupid in the Halladay/Lee mess. In addition to the other ridiculous things they did in contract extensions and signings, they've sown the seeds to their own downfall.
We'll see which front office was truly "inept" a year from now.
- Revisting the Elliot Johnson-Francisco Cervelli collision from 2008:
After Francisco Cervelli got hit in the helmet by a fastball from Blue Jays righty Zech Zinicola (he's got a concussion, but will be okay), the discussion on Twitter turned into how rotten Cervelli's spring training luck is.*
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Two years ago, he had his wrist broken in a home plate collision with Rays rookie Elliot Johnson. The consensus, led by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, has been that it was a cheap shot on the part of Johnson, unnecessary in spring training.
I said then and now that it was a clean hit.
It was clean.
It was a hard baseball play. But it was clean.
Was it necessary in spring training? Was it a legal cheap shot? Was it something for the Yankees manager to cause such a stir over? And was the Yankees over the top reaction as direct result of their manager's complaining?
As for the propriety, put it this way, had it been Jorge Posada catching and Carl Crawford coming around the bases, there would've been no collision because Posada would've moved and Crawford would've either slowed or run around Posada. Neither had anything to prove and weren't trying to make an impression on anyone. For Cervelli, he had to show that he wasn't afraid of the occasionally necessary contact that happens to a catcher; Johnson was trying to make the Rays roster.
They were playing a game. It was a bang-bang play that wasn't out of order; and there are veteran players that would've done the same thing as Johnson and been heralded for their intensity. If it were Pete Rose, no one would say a word. They'd credit him for his all out, all the time play.
Girardi's explosion appeared to be the overreaction of a young manager trying to feel his way through his new job and show his dubious veteran players that he was going to defend them and stand up for them rightly or wrongly. He didn't know what to do, so he freaked out; as hard nosed a player as Girardi was, I can't believe that he truly thought it was a cheap shot. Had Cervelli not gotten hurt and required surgery, no one would've said anything.
In fact, Girardi made things worse because the desire for "retaliation" caused a bench clearing brawl between the Rays and Yankees when Shelley Duncan did exercise a cheap shot on Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura with a filthy, spikes-high slide on a double play designed to start a fight. And a fight started. All of that was due to Girardi's overreaction and another marginal big leaguer like Duncan trying to prove something to his manager and teammates.
They're lucky no one got hurt in the fight; and in retrospect it was even more idiotic because it galvanized the Rays and sent the message to the rest of the league that the young Rays weren't going to put up with the Yankees and Red Sox bullying anymore. They won the pennant that year in large part because of the team-wide bonding that can come from a fight.
The Johnson play was hard; it was rough; and Cervelli got hut. But it was clean. Period.