Friday, July 9, 2010

Teams Want B.J. Upton, Why?

  • Untouchable by conscious choice:

Among the infinite Cliff Lee rumors came one from Peter Gammons suggesting the Rays, Brewers and Mariners were discussing a deal with Lee going to the Rays; B.J. Upton to the Brewers; and a load of stuff from the Brewers and Rays systems to the Mariners.

Or something like that.

I'm not bothering to look for the actual rumor because, like most Lee rumors, they're tiresome and based on nothing more than the invisible "source" that could be anyone or anything from a human to a tree to a figment of the rumor-monger's imagination in order to create something out of nothing.

My fictional account of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik trading Lee to the Hiroshima Carp for a ton of Kobe beef was more entertaining than anything that's purported to be "real".

Be that as it may, the interesting and unsurprising name being tossed about in trade talks is Upton.

After his latest transgression of indifference in jogging after a ball hit over his head in a game against the Diamondbacks and subsequent dugout confrontation with Evan Longoria, it's obvious that the Rays have had enough of him and are eschewing the logic of not dumping a superior talent like Upton when his value is at its lowest. The organization has had it and I can't blame them. The near fistfight with Longoria is another blot on Upton's rap sheet to go along with his failure to hustle multiple times. He's been benched for it, but isn't hearing the message.

You can bet that the public disturbances aren't the only incidents with Upton, so the Rays would love to be rid of him based on behavior alone; then when adding in his terrible production on the field and I wonder why any team would want him to begin with.

This is no longer just a slump. Upton's been awful for a year-and-a-half now; he's lazy; he's petulant; and he's not hitting. Despite his age----26; and his affordability----he won't be a free agent until after 2012, he's not a player you want in the clubhouse and right now, he's not a player you want on the field either.

This isn't any old-school rant against a young player who's rebelling against authority; nor is it a liberal rant of "understanding". I'm more than willing to take a chance on a player who's acted poorly and may just need a change-of-scenery----I'm the guy who continues to suggest teams with strong core leadership take a chance on Elijah Dukes! But Upton's different.

With Dukes, there was an excuse----a difficult upbringing to say the least; and a lack of impulse control that's led to violent, criminal outbursts----but the talent was there and it made him worth a shot on a zero-tolerance basis; plus he wouldn't cost anything.

B.J. Upton's different. He grew up in a solid home and his brother Justin has been a model citizen with the Diamondbacks as he blossoms into a star.

B.J. has that ability as well. He's a five-tool talent, but he's wasting it because he won't listen; because he doesn't get it.

I'd certainly take Upton if I was getting him for little-to-nothing; but for a team that's looking to improve on the fly? I would not bring B.J. Upton into my clubhouse until I saw a noticeable change in attitude. I could put up with the slumping on the field; or the off-field stuff; but I couldn't and wouldn't deal with both.

Right now, he's radioactive.

And I wouldn't touch him.

  • Speaking of the Rays, is there a method to the madness?

The Rays front office----Stuart Sternberg, Matt Siverman and Andrew Friedman----have learned their lessons well with their accumulation of wealth in the financial industry, and that lesson is the value of maximizing assets, exhausting them and letting them go.

Matt Garza had thrown 84 pitches in 3 innings in his start against the Red Sox, and got rocked; he was used, curiously, to get the save in the same series in a 6-4 Rays win two days later.

Yes, he only threw 20 pitches in the relief appearance; and yes, it was probably his throw day anyway; but in today's game pitchers----especially young ones----being used in such a way is unheard of; and this is the second time this season that the Rays have done this with one of their starters pitching in relief in circumstances other than desperation. In the wild "Vuvuzela" marred game in Miami against the Marlins, James Shields pitched an inning in relief two days after having thrown 82 pitches against the Braves.

On one level, you can chalk this up to the Rays doing things slightly differently. Perhaps rather than having their starters throw on the side two days after their starts and if they haven't thrown an inordinate number of pitches, it's logical to use them in a game if they're needed. They won both games. On another level, you have to wonder if the Rays front office is using cold and brutal reasoning in deploying their arms.

Given their financial constraints, are the Rays----within reason----squeezing every ounce of use from the likes of Garza and Shields since they know they're not going to be able to keep them once free agency hits?

It's a fine line as they're not abusing the pitchers by having them thrown 130-140 pitches in a start; and I agree with the strategy they're using----the Rays have proven to be highly innovative trying new things, and I'm a big fan of some of the things they do----but it may not be a matter of tweaking throw days by using the pitchers out of the bullpen for a certain number of pitches. It might be a grand plan disguised by logic. And I like it.

  • I may as well weigh in on LeBron James:

I haven't followed basketball for about 20 years and even then, it was only in a general way, but since the hot topic is LeBron James's decision to sign with the Miami Heat and the widespread vitriol he's receiving, I may as well jump in and say my piece.

What I don't understand is why James is being savaged so completely for taking advantage of his situation. Like the jilted lover, the Cavaliers and Knicks are reacting with a combination of hurt and rage as if they're saying, "why don't you want me?" like a whiny former flame; and "I hate you anyway" as if they were better off without him while the true emotions are evident.

Mike Francesa has been going on one of his increasingly prevalent freakout sessions as he did when he insisted, insisted, insisted to the point of loony bin-committable derangement that Joba Chamberlain needed to be a relief pitcher. I agreed with Chamberlain's motion and stuff being suited to the bullpen, but he hasn't been particularly good at it, so maybe I was wrong. (Don't ever expect Francesa to admit he was wrong about anything).

The most bizarre bit came in the letter that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert posted on the club website excoriating James. The letter can be read here----link.

Is the letter meant to make James regret leaving?

When he was at the top of his game in tyrannical irrationality, George Steinbrenner never came up with anything akin to the letter Gilbert published. I remember Steinbrenner apologizing to the city of New York for losing the World Series in 1981; and ripping Rod Carew for Carew choosing to join the Angels instead of the Yankees as a free agent, but nothing like this.

For an owner to say such things is totally out of line. No one's saying that Gilbert and the Cavaliers have to be aboveboard and wish James well on his departure, but to use words like "deserted"; "narcissistic"; "cowardly betrayal"; and referencing a "Cleveland curse" is beyond the scope of even the most psychotic and egomaniacal owner.

One would assume that Gilbert is going to hear from the NBA about this.

In the end, I don't get it.

Was LeBron James supposed to stay in Cleveland when he knew that he was unlikely to compete for a championship? Was he supposed to go to New York if he truly wanted to play in Miami?

I don't know whether it's going to work for him with the Heat; but it was his right to do as he saw fit for himself and if that meant signing with Miami, so be it. The vitriolic attacks stem from jealousy; vindictiveness; and selfishness.

LeBron James was put in this position because of his talent and the hype that surrounded it from his days as a high-schooler. He capitalized on it. He shouldn't apologize; nor should he be under attack for exercising his rights to go where he wanted to go.

It just so happened to be Miami, but it could easily have been Cleveland or New York and the response would've been similar----except emanating from a different venue.

  • Viewer Mail 7.9.2010:

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Jake Peavy and the stat zombies:

The look on Peavy's face when the muscle tore made me wince. That couldn't have felt good.

I also wanted to -- S#@*()_F_#$@)*_F&&Q) -- sorry, I'll have to finish this comment later.

Gotta take care of some zombies.

I'm wondering if Peavy was pitching through the pain knowing that it was potentially serious and if the combination of toughness, his salary and desire to compete kept him on the mound when he shouldn't have been. I also wonder if----had he shut it down----this could've been avoided.

And I know you'll handle the zombies and make them pay for the big mistake they made. Attacking me? Okay. Attacking members of my Family? Not okay.

Do what must be done. Do not hesitate, show no mercy...

Max Stevens writes RE me:

I discovered your blog through BBTF. I really appreciate your obvious passion for baseball and the intelligence of your analysis. It's good to know that there's somebody out there who loves the game as much as I do. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for the kind words, Max. Welcome aboard!

I'm sure people think I only publish comments/emails that tell me how terrific I am, but it's not the case----I'll respond to anyone and everyone about most everything if they come up with something worth responding to.

It just rarely happens. Nobody wants to scrap. It's a shame.

N. writes RE Billy Beane:

Paul, I read you with regularity and much appreciate your wit and wisdom. Especially when it comes to your consistent hammering of the Billy Beane Moneyball fraud. My one quibble (as I have mentioned to you before) is that you haven't pointed out the role steroids played in the Moneyball fraud:
1) that the A's roster was highly juiced and
2) that the entire strategy of taking walks and hitting homers to the exclusion of everything else (i.e smallball) only works with the 27 yankees or with a lineup of juicers.
3) that Beane knew about the juicing and that he himself possibly juiced.

anyway, please keep up the good work...

Thanks for the support.

I understand your point, but I can't be unfair and rip the Athletics for PED use (Jason Giambi admitted it) and give a pass to the likes of Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, David Ortiz, et al. for their own participation in having taken advantage of baseball turning a blind eye and even encouraging the practice by winking, nodding and turning their heads to give themselves some form of plausible deniability.

It wasn't just the stat zombie teams that were using PEDs; it was everyone. That's on baseball itself and not the Athletics. Beane knew about it of course, but what could he, Steve Phillips, Brian Cashman or any other GM have done about it? If baseball was letting it go, they had little recourse and jobs on the line. I would've done the same thing and shrugged.

I can't possibly know if Beane was using anything and, truth be told, as I've stated before, if taken under a doctor's supervision and used properly, I don't think PEDs are dangerous nor are they necessarily a bad thing for general health.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE the stat zombies and Jake Peavy:

The problem with the stat zombies is that you're talking English. It does not compute with them. Break your page down into algorithms or a series of zeroes and ones and then they may start to understand the genius.

Peavy ~ sheesh! There goes our best pitcher in the Baseball Classic.

The zombies comprehend what I'm saying, but you're right, it doesn't compute and they neither like it nor do they have a response; therefore it's easier to attack me rather than comment and run the risk of getting into a debate that they'll lose. I would think that they'd want to get into it with me to prove their point. Sadly, I'm wrong.

And math ain't my thing anyway.

Peavy's a case of extremes----he went all-out and has the major injury to show for it. 2010BaseballGuideCover.gif

I admire Peavy. There was no compromise in his motion and he's gone out the way he came in.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.

I'm hard to handle, but well worth the ride.


She-Fan said...

Not sure what to make of today's Cliff Lee rumor regarding the Yankees. So I'll wait to see if a deal actually materializes. Meanwhile, I agree with you about the letter sent out by the Cavs owner about LeBron. I thought the ESPN show was ridiculous, but for an owner to personally attack a player like that was over the top. You're right - even George wouldn't have gone that far. His "pussy toad" crack about Irabu was more his speed.

Jeff said...

I don't know, Prince. Steinbrenner did some really awful shit to Dave Winfield, while he was PLAYING FOR HIS TEAM.

So, I'd say he's still worse than Gilbert. Cleveland is in pain right now... people do weird things when they're in pain.

Gabriel said...

I was expecting LeBron to be interrupted by Kanye. As for the letter, well, you can't take seriously anything written in Comic Sans MS font.

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