Monday, May 24, 2010

Scrimpin' And Savin'

  • Accounting for the "what if?":

When you build a team around veterans and try to save a dollar here and there and leave the bench in the hands of less expensive players who are, as a matter of course, unable to fill the veterans' shoes for any amount of time because of a decline or overt lack of ability, the risk is run that a spate of injuries will leave a team scrambling and cost them games.

Such has been the case with the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. There are injuries that can't be overcome; the Mets of 2009 proved that point, but if a team has a viable bench player who can do the job over a short period, they won't have to worry about the issues that are hindering the three aforementioned favorites for a World Series in 2010.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman had it in mind to sign cheap and useful (so he thought) moving parts like Nick Johnson; Marcus Thames; and Randy Winn. Johnson's problem has always been staying on the field; and while it was a good idea as a low-cost/high-reward signing to fill the DH spot, since he got hurt it can only be seen as a mistake. Because Jorge Posada is also hurt; as is Curtis Granderson, the idea that a rotating band of veterans could fill the DH spot more cheaply is also sabotaged.

The Yankees loaded up with flawed or young bench players----Winn; Thames; Francisco Cervelli; along with youngsters Kevin Russo; and Juan Miranda----who've been hit-or-miss; and now that both Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter have gotten off to slow starts and Posada's hurt, there's little margin for error with the ancillary cogs.

If you look at the Yankees from 1998, you'll see that they had a bench of Darryl Strawberry; Tim Raines; Girardi; and Luis Sojo----players who would perform during crunch time and handle the spotlight if a veteran went down. They were also more expensive than the players that formulate the benches nowadays. It's as if teams are trying to save a few pennies and bluff their way through basing said decisions on numbers and evaluations of "worth".

I'd rather have a Darryl Strawberry coming off the bench than Juan Miranda, stats or no stats; money or no money.

The same phenomenon has proven true with the Red Sox, who have tried to account for the losses of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury with journeymen Bill Hall; Jonathan Van Every; and Darnell McDonald, and it's cost them greatly.

It's the same deal with the Phillies; although their problems have been largely masked by a horrible National League and timely hitting, how long before Jimmy Rollins's recurrent leg problems start to cost them as they're trotting Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro out to shortstop on a daily basis? Brian Schneider's hurt; Ross Gload has barely gotten his behind off the bench (I doubt he had 29 plate appearances by the end of May in mind when he signed with the Phillies); and they have age against them with Raul Ibanez and Jamie Moyer.

This is all before getting to the Phillies patched together bullpen.

Would the Yankees have been better off shelling out a few extra dollars to keep Eric Hinske? Hideki Matsui? Asking Cashman is a fruitless endeavor because he's gotten so deeply immersed in numbers that his vision has been clouded beyond all repair. The threatening bat lurking has been eliminated by the numbers and delusions of credit that Cashman craves.

But what of Girardi? Is he wishing silently that he had a better option than Juan Miranda? A veteran presence that could fill the shoes of the injured?

We know the answer, don't we?

There are injuries to key players that literally cannot be overcome, as happened to the Mets last year; but the injuries that have hampered the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox could've been mitigated by a better accounting for the "what if?"; and they weren't. They've all been lucky that they're still in contention and more; but the bench cannot be discounted----financially or analytically.

Do so at your own risk.

  • The Nationals are after Roy Oswalt:

I'm getting the idea that Nationals President Stan Kasten has visions of the 1991 Braves dancing in his head in a "worst-to-first" scenario of riding young pitching and a little magic to a playoff spot and World Series for a team that had been written off in the pre-season.

Kasten was the Braves president from 1986 through 2003.

There are similarities between those Braves and these Nationals.

The Braves were aggressive in the winter of 1990-1991 and made some head-scratching signings of veteran players the type where questions akin to "what are you gonna do with him?" abounded. Otis Nixon? Rafael Belliard? Terry Pendleton? Mike Heath? Going with a rookie catcher in Greg Olson?

But the combination of young and old; a ridiculous turnaround from banishment to MVP by Pendleton; and that young pitching----John Smoltz; Tom Glavine and Steve Avery----combined to vault the Braves to the top of the National League West.

The Nationals made some signings this past winter that looked bizarre. Adam Kennedy? Ivan Rodriguez? Jason Marquis? Miguel Batista? But they're over .500 and playing solid fundamental baseball; they appear to be a close-knit, learning-on-the-fly group. With Stephen Strasburg's arrival imminent, there's reason for optimism; and reason to at least consider pursuing Oswalt.

The National League is wide open and laden with parity; just as the Braves of 1991 seemed to say, "why not us?" once they realized they were in contention at mid-season when few thought they would be, if the Nationals hover around .500 as the Oswalt trade talks heat up, I can see the front office, veterans and rookies coming together and screaming, "We're in this thing!!!!" and going for it.

Stranger things have happened. Why not explore it and see what the Astros want?

Why not?

  • Viewer Mail 5.24.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Joe Buck and Tim McCarver:

You can't take anything seriously that comes out of the mouths of Buck and McCarver. I was in heaven watching the game on Fox's Spanish channel because I was blacked out of the regular broadcast. I don't understand a word of Spanish and it was bliss.

I don't take them seriously----they're ludicrous; but Fox is still clinging to this Joe Buck fantasy of a broadcasting star; and McCarver as this know-all expert, and forcing them down our collective throats.

I don't see how they can ignore that even Yankees fans were offended by the Mets bashing!!!! Think about that.

Jennifer at The Simple Dish writes RE Buck and McCarver:

I really want to know how those two still have jobs. I have never met anyone that likes Buck and McCarver. They spend so much time blathering on about nothing or taking cheap shots at any team that is not the Yankees that you miss the finer points of the game.

If they had a strong opinion and a case to back it up, then fine, no harm no foul; but they parachute in with half-truths and quarter-knowledge and affect this authoritative tone of expertise.

Buck is a smarmy self-promoter; McCarver is a grumpy old man whose gotten lazy. This is not to sound age discriminative because Vin Scully is still a pleasure to listen to and completely together mentally. There's a difference between an old man clinging to his past rep as McCarver is, and someone like Scully.

Scully's still productive and doing good work; McCarver needs to be put out to pasture.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE broadcasters and would-be experts:

I used to go at it with BT-(1050) through e-mails about never having to admit they're wrong or ever having to revisit some of their worst offerings. That's the beauty of having your own outlet I guess. I'll catch up to Twitter one of these days, but in the mean time keep giving em hell.

Is "BT" Brandon Tierney?

My issue with these people is that they: A) have no accountability; and B) cause people to lose their jobs.

The reason many of them hate me to the degree that they do is that I say things they wish they could say and can't approach the way I express it neatly and with laser-precision. They should look elsewhere for mercy; anyone who deserves said mercy would never ask for it.

This was my Joe Buck moment of self-aggrandizement. I do not apologize.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Joe Buck:

I really hate to be so crude but...

Joe Buck = Shit Fuck.

Sometimes the truth calls.

Concise, clear and exclamatory. Nothing more need be said. 2010BaseballGuideCover.gif

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You must be the other guy.


Jeff said...

Good points. The irony of the Yankees' new money management philosophy is hard to ignore.

Miranda. Thames. Cervelli.

Not quite Matsui, Damon and Molina.

Still, I gotta tip my hat to the Yanks for hangin' in there with what they got. They're much better off than the Red Sox, that's for sure.

She-Fan said...

Actually, Miranda and Cervelli have done just fine and I'd take Cervelli over Molina any day. That said, I would have spent the money to bring back Damon; he's still the best #2 hitter out there.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Stan Kasten; What a great Baseball name. See? There is still a very real place, for a good team President in today's game. I'm just sayin'. Nats have an interesting mix in that front office with Rizzo, Bob Boone and Davey Johnson tossing in his two cents. Their pockets will get healthier also once they recover from paying Peter Angelos territorial fees.

Matt said...

Paul, I think you left Hermida off the Sox list of bench guys, and he's actually come up with quite a few very big hits for them. Don't get me wrong, he's no world beater but the guy deserves some credit.