- An All Star break recap unlike any other, day 2:
The title refers to the comment the unreadable Ken Davidoff made to me after I pointed out how strikingly similar Joel (Cliff Lee is heading to the Yankees...by way of Texas?) Sherman's posting regarding the Astros possible trading partners for Roy Oswalt was to mine----Posting May 25th, 2010.
You can judge for yourself, but I let it go after people I respect said it wasn't plagiarism.
Davidoff said that I committed "awful acts".
I'm the epitome of evil.
I'm on the run.
And for the record, I have no problem with Davidoff's writing; he's unreadable because he writes for Newsday which, by definition, is unreadable because no one reads it.
But more on the media later.
For now, it's time for more stuff from the outer limits of my head.
The "strategy" of the Nationals:
Baseball isn't football or hockey in which a team repeatedly gets number one picks in the draft and automatically can guarantee they'll be contenders within three or so years if they know what they're doing at all and even if they don't know what they're doing it happens by accident of circumstance.
The Rays have been built largely through the draft, with luck and some smart trades. It's conveniently forgotten by those ready to anoint Andrew Friedman as baseball's "best" GM that a large chunk of the Rays' foundation was in place when the new management team arrived.
The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg and just drafted Bryce Harper----a prospect who is inviting barely concealed lust among everyone who's seen him. It remains to be seen whether he'll be Joe Mauer or Danny Goodwin. Apart from that, they have some talent in the organization and a few good players at the big league level, but nothing that explains the way the front office seemed to be pushing the envelope to contend this year.
Dumping Elijah Dukes and creating a more positive and professional atmosphere under manager Jim Riggleman was a step in the right direction, but they've fallen to their talent level as a heavy workload for their relatively strong bullpen and a short starting rotation has cost them. Early in the year, when they were playing very well, I thought that it was possible that they could hang around in the playoff race in the weak National League; and if the emergence of Strasburg created a jolt of electricity throughout the club, who knows where that would take them?
But they've stumbled.
The lineup, like the pitching staff, has useful pieces; but on the whole, it's not very good. Slightly more talented than an expansion team, the Nats were misjudged badly as many "experts" suggested they were better than the Mets.
Well, they're not.
The problem teams that are not deep isn't that they lack talent; it's that many times the games they do win have to be treated as playoff games in which the best relievers are used far longer than they would be for a team with more personnel from which to choose. The Nats got off to a good start because they were overusing their reliable relievers Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps----their workload has been extensive; and Livan Hernandez did an above-and-beyond the call of keeping the club in games as they waited for Strasburg. But when Strasburg arrived, Clippard and Capps already looked gassed.
Again Riggleman was faced with a dilemma akin to the one he had in 1998 with the Cubs----and that Dusty Baker had with the Cubs in 2003-----development or winning?
It's a fine line on which to walk and with the aggressiveness the Nats were showing in signing Jason Marquis and checking in on Roy Oswalt, it was clear that they wanted to win now. It's a dual-sided coin. If it works, they're going to run the risk of burning out assets as Riggleman did in his abuse of Kerry Wood in 1998; the Cubs won the Wild Card, but Wood blew out his elbow the next year. Baker ran Wood and Mark Prior out to the mound, let them pitch deeply into games because he had no choice if he wanted to win and came within one game of the World Series. Both got hurt.
There's no blame to be doled, it's fact. It just "is".
Now the Nats are considering trading Adam Dunn. Strangely, there's also been talk that they might move Nyjer Morgan; wasn't everyone in love with Morgan last year for his defense and speed? And to do what? To play Roger Bernadina in center field? Good luck there.
If I were the Nats, I'd strongly advise that they abandon any false hopes of contention in 2010, trade Dunn and explore a deal for the horribly underrated Josh Willingham (I've loved the way he hits back to when he was with the Marlins; in a clutch spot, he was scarier than Hanley Ramirez to me.)
This team has the building blocks to be pretty good quickly, but the fans aren't coming to the games unless Strasburg is pitching, so to keep Dunn and Willingham to win 75 games instead of 69 makes no sense in any context aside from a vanity play, and it's a mistake.
The managers that have been fired deserved their fate for the most part.
Dave Trembley worked his way up to the big leagues having never played professional baseball, but was overmatched and the Orioles weren't any good at any time during his tenure.
The Royals' Trey Hillman had a sterling resume and couldn't handle the job strategically or practically.
The firing of Fredi Gonzalez was unfair on the surface after the good work he did with the Marlins, but he's going to land on his feet somewhere----the Braves?----after the season.
A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks is highly intelligent and has the makings to be a good manager, but his hiring was a disaster that wound up costing GM Josh Byrnes his job as well.
What's more interesting than the managers and GM who did get fired is the list of managers who were on the firing line, but survived, so far...
The revelation of Rangers manager Ron Washington's failed drug test and his admission that he used cocaine last year made him a dead man walking...to everyone but the Rangers. Washington is a survivor; that can't be discounted; nor can the fact that his players play hard for him. Now, the Rangers are in first place, have Cliff Lee and are a good bet to make the playoffs.
Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and it was put up or get out time with the Reds. Expectations were high and the club has hovered around first place all year long. The Cardinals are vulnerable and if the Reds maintain, Baker won't just survive, he might win Manager of the Year.
It's not his fault, but I have no idea how Ken Macha is still managing the Brewers. They've played poorly and, barring a miraculous turnaround, Macha's not going to be back after the season. Doesn't it make sense to install Willie Randolph as manager sooner rather than later?
Jerry Manuel of the Mets still has people calling for his job, but the team has surpassed any and all expectations (except mine) as they've vaulted themselves into contention and incorporated a segment of the farm system that's better than the analysts thought.
The Pirates John Russell....oh never mind. I'm not wasting energy talking about the Pirates.
The media wall:
With the World Cup having just ended (and Paul the Octopus even more accurate in his predictions than Paul the Prince), I can't help but envision a pasty, poorly-dressed,unimaginative and embittered group forming a wall of protection much like the "wall" in soccer to shield one of their own as current events play themselves out.
I'm of course referring to the media.
What I find strange isn't the way they protect their own, but that they protect their own to the extreme lengths that they do. Even when they're wrong, there's a shield that goes up based on the dying nature of their jobs. They have no answers; their game reports are all they can provide and their analysis----or what they call analysis----comes increasingly under scrutiny.
It's all the same. Invisible sources; canned trade "rumors" that emanated in someone's imagination or was strategically placed to convenience all sides; and nonsensically roundabout blather that would be better uttered by Sarah Palin.
Such has been the case over the weekend as the aforementioned Joel Sherman has had his work justified and vigorously defended regarding the Cliff Lee to the Yankees mess. While it was in the middle of happening, everyone from Jon Heyman to Ken Davidoff to anyone else who's buddies with Sherman lauded his investigative skills in getting the story before it happened.
And that's the problem.
It hadn't happened.
They can twist words and add caveats to imply that the failure was due to shifty and unethical tactics on the part of the Mariners and a deal that was agreed upon was shattered when a better one came along; but the fact is that the trade wasn't completed even as the reporters acted as if it was.
Here's MLBTradeRumors.com and their love fest for Sherman's spin doctoring on how the deal he had at the "goal line" and whose paper----the New York Post----had the words "Yankees to get Lee" at the top of the page reporting the story----link----fell apart.
The relevant sentence, in my mind, was:
Sherman also gets into the failed Yankees-Lee deal like only he can.
Before the deal collapsed; and while Sherman was being treated like the Woodward and Bernstein of the sports world, I preached counsel----wisely----knowing how these things sometimes go.
Lo and behold, the Yankees didn't get Lee.
Did the Mariners act unethically? Who knows? There don't seem to be any ironclad rules that have to be adhered to when making trades and the idea that the Yankees are going to try to influence other teams not to do business with the Mariners is ridiculous. It's not ridiculous that they might try, but to think a team who needs something from the Mariners is going to care what the Yankees say in relation to whether or not to do a deal in lunacy. In fact, if they did screw the Yankees, I'd think more teams would be willing to do business with the Mariners because of that.
Then you get to ESPN.
I was looking at their Rumor Central yesterday----always good for a chuckle----read the About section and literally burst out laughing. It goes as follows:
Rumor Central is a collaboration -- an aggregation built upon constant tips and analysis from ESPN’s internal sources and numerous external sources and links from all over the web. We will debunk, debate, acknowledge the possibilities, connect the dots and speculate logically. We are listening for everything and filling the gray area -- the news before the news. Because until it’s confirmed, it’s just a rumor.
This is the stupidest "About" I've ever read...or written.
"Constant tips and analysis"? "External sources"? "Connect the dots"? "Speculate logically"?
Do you read some of the "analysis" that ESPN presents? Aside from Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick is there anyone there worthwhile? Who presents their case with conviction rather than a selfish agenda?
The only dots ESPN connects are the ones that are going to drive up traffic and ratings for their web of networks. Was the Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols "rumor" actually analyzed before Buster Olney went on ESPN News and discussed it like it had a chance of happening in any world anywhere in the universe?
It's all a selfish endeavor based on nothing other than creating a buzz----the content is irrelevant; and you're the victim if you buy into it.
They can erect all the walls they want; protect their nether-regions and their faces; but truth will win out. And it is not on their side.
- Viewer Mail 7.13.2010:
Ubaldo Jimenez? Josh Johnson and maybe even Halladay have been better.
In my imagination, I felt my hands closing tightly around Joe's throat, but he actually has an argument for Johnson, not really for Halladay. Their numbers are similar in everything aside from wins; but in the broad sense, I don't see how you can deny the "first-half" award to Jimenez.
He's struggled a little bit lately, but while the Rockies were dealing with injuries and a shaky bullpen, he singlehandedly kept their heads above water with two separate, long scoreless inning streaks. Overall, you also have to look at what he's done for the team. Plus Jimenez goes deeper into games than Johnson does even though Johnson's been pushed lately in his pitch counts.
The Marlins are staggering along and the Rockies are a playoff contender. If Jimenez wins 25 games, they can't deny him the CYA even if Johnson's close or better in certain categories.
You're right about Joba - he's only 24 and has never really been given the time and innings he needs. And his meteoric rise in 2007 probably hurt him in terms of expectations. I don't know what to say about him at this point except that I cringe when he comes in with a one run lead.
He's been misused since college and as much as the Yankees have tried to shield him, they might be better off doing the "Rays thing" and being a little more self-interested on the field rather than trying to keep him healthy at the cost of winning.
The bottom line with his job as a set-up man is that they don't have anyone else, so it's Joba or bust. This is where they are. They have to move forward one way or the other.
Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Joba Chamberlain:
Hard for me to feel sorry for Joba -- considering how much of a child he is -- but I agree that the NY media machine has been a bit harsh.
I'm super charged for the Rangers. I really hope they go to the playoffs. Their fans are great folks that deserve some good news after all these years.
It's amazing how they prop a player like Chamberlain up when he's doing well and use him as a pincushion when it suits them.
The Rangers have to keep an eye on the Angels; despite any contrary views on the Angels' shortcomings, they find a way to contend and loiter until they can attack; and aside from Vladimir Guerrero and now Cliff Lee, the Rangers are very young and inexperienced in big games.