Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Expertise In The Form Of Hilarity

  • Analysts----so much like us:

Where would be be without experts? Self-anointed or credible, they provide a consistent wealth of materiel for me to write stuff.*

*And I did mean to use the word "materiel" which is defined as "the equipment, apparatus, and supplies of a military force or other organization." Think about it. It's more applicable for my implementation and ends than "material". Right?

First we start with Steve Phillips. People rip on Phillips as a joke for his personal missteps and that his tenure as Mets GM has been twisted inaccurately to suit the purposes of the Moneyball brigade for whom he's the epitome of all that was "wrong" with baseball before stat-based analysis became the Holy Grail in running an organization. Cast as Billy Beane's repeated victim for dumping declining players and high salaries, Phillips was made to look foolish.

He's far from a fool; in fact, he's a highly astute baseball analyst; and the saddest thing----professionally----about his fall is that he's no longer in a prominent role on ESPN. Now he's a regular guest on Mike Francesa's show and always adds something to the program.

You can click and listen here----Mike'd Up Link.

One thing I think Phillips needs to realize is that he made a mistake with the hiring of Art Howe to manage the Mets and his suggestion that Terry Francona would be the first manager he'd hire if he had a choice of anyone would be in a similar category of that error.

I respect Francona, but that doesn't alter the fact that he is in a very advantageous situation with the Red Sox in that he's more of a conduit between the front office and the on-field decisions; and he was an abject failure in his first managerial go-round with the Phillies. Of course that has to be placed in the proper context. The Phillies Francona managed were awful; the Red Sox have been highly paid and one of the most talented clubs in baseball during his whole tenure. He handles a difficult media and fan base in Boston brilliantly; and is respected in the clubhouse and throughout baseball.

This doesn't necessarily mean that he's a "difference-maker" as a manager. Francona got the Red Sox job because he was agreeable to Curt Schilling, whom the Red Sox were desperately trying to acquire; he'd do as he was told by the front office; and he'd work cheaply for the chance.

To be fair, Phillips also mentioned Tony La Russa as someone who is automatically a guarantee of getting the most out of his players. These are two totally different managers. Would Francona have the strategic acumen with a team that needs guidance and doesn't have the plan of attack and support that he does with the Red Sox? He's a good, but not great strategic manager who might have trouble without that structure that has made the Red Sox one of the best run teams in sports.

As much as Howe was criticized for his tenure in New York and because he was seen as little more than a bystander in the success of the Moneyball Athletics amid Beane's height of "genius" and the afterglow of the mythical text, he won for the same reasons that Francona wins. It just so happens that the Red Sox under Francona won two World Series and the Athletics got bounced from the playoffs three times under Howe.

Howe's detractors don't want to hear anything positive about him, but he does deserve credit for one thing: he didn't frighten the young players into stunted development when they were in their formative big league years. This is not a small accomplishment. Managers like Lou Piniella were notoriously impatient with rookies and, as a result, dispatched the likes of Mike Hampton for immediate help; we're seeing a similar coming of age with Felix Pie of the Orioles----Piniella played him early in 2008, but didn't really give him a chance. Pie's still a work-in-progress, but he's only 25 and Buck Showalter will find a way to maximize his skills.

Francona is very protected in the Red Sox hierarchy and there's nothing wrong with that, but it has to be seen for what it is.

So would Francona's abilities be as transferable? Would he be able to handle the Mets? The Pirates? The Orioles? No. He, like Howe was with the A's, is in a very agreeable situation for both Terry Francona and the Red Sox----it wouldn't work as a La Russa would elsewhere. This is a mistake Phillips made with Howe and would apparently make again with Francona.

Then there's Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and other outlets. Here's what I don't get about Heyman----he says something ridiculous and wonders why people laugh at him; he gets offended and blocks them on Twitter. He blocked me, literally for an innocuous posting I made when he didn't understand my sarcasm. As far as my coordinated attacks go, this couldn't even be classified as an attack----go to the August 15th, 2009 posting if you're interested; I'm innocent for once.

Yesterday in a radio interview, Heyman said the following (clipped from MetsBlog):

Jon Heyman of said on 98.5 FM in Boston that he believes the Mets will try to trade Carlos Beltran this winter, though they will probably need to pay around $15 million of $18 million due on his contract.

Just so I understand, the Mets are going to dump Beltran and pay $15 million of his $18 million?

And the point of this is what? Is Beltran a Milton Bradley eruption waiting to happen in that they have to get him out of the clubhouse no matter what? The only way such a dumb idea would make sense is if the Mets are getting some blue chip, literally cannot miss type of prospects back or are getting a Tim Lincecum.

Apart from that, why would they pay Beltran $15 million to play elsewhere? They might as well keep him, hope that he has a big season in the final year of his contract for them and not for someone else.

It's idiotic.

Dunno if Heyman can do anything more than blocking me on Twitter. Is there such a thing as an online restraining order to prevent me from mentioning his name? If so, he's in for a fight.

And finally, Michael Kay.

In what was an eerie series of coincidences (or maybe not considering the histories of the participants), I went off on Kay for marring the George Steinbrenner monument unveiling with an all-too-familiar, furtive and coordinated diminution of Joe Torre's accomplishments as Yankees manager.

He doesn't do it in such a way as to say, "Oh, he's not a good manager and he did almost nothing to assist that great team in their championships", but it's worse than that and less aboveboard than pure honesty. The shots he takes are personal and have been prevalent since Torre's departure.

What Kay vindictiveness does is obscure the truth that Torre's contribution to the team and selfish, egocentric grasping at money, credit and the final word have made Torre look bad; it has torn the image of "Saint Joe" to shreds because the image never had much in common with reality to begin with.

I received a comment from Kimberly yesterday that brought to light a story regarding Kay and Torre that I suspected, but hadn't heard:

My recollection is that Joe Torre blasted Michael Kay in the locker room and Kay has never gotten over it. I am not sure what the issue was--maybe it was when the YES network was being used to send "messages" when the Boss was unhappy about the team and how they were playing--but Torre used Michael Kay to send a message of his own. Regardless of Michael Kay's baseball knowledge (or lack thereof), he has a legitimate reason to hate Joe Torre.
I do agree with you that last night wasn't a night to air grievances.

If this is true, Kay could've made himself look like a responsible journalist and taken the ultimate high-road, leaving Torre nowhere to turn and forcing the manager to essentially grovel for Kay's forgiveness for what he's said to have done.


It's simple. All he had to do was, instead of taking the route he did, Kay could've requested a meeting with Torre to discuss this allegation. No matter what Torre did----refuse the meeting, continue to rip Kay privately, or apologize----Kay would've won.

He could've gone to the manager and said something to the tune of, "I don't appreciate having my integrity impugned as you fight a battle with your bosses over their attempts to undermine you." (Maybe he did, I don't know.) Whatever happened, Kay could've settled the issue with Torre or had legitimate ammunition to go after the manager----the truth. Instead, he decided to do it this way and it's cheap and makes Kay look terrible.

I'd never accord baseball credibility to Michael Kay----it's far too late for that----but he could've been right in this instance. Torre had no business using Kay to send a message to the front office.

Torre's taken advantage of the championships to make himself a lot of money on and off the field; he's possibly the most media savvy manager in recent memory but if anything exemplified the other side of Torre, it was the blockheaded proclamation that he indeed would have interest in the Mets job while: A) he's still managing the Dodgers; and B) the Mets have a manager with a contract option in Jerry Manuel.

At best it was wanton disregard of the circumstances of other people; at worst it was overt arrogance on the part of Torre. In the subsequent hours and uproar, Torre said he's not going to manage the Mets; isn't planning on managing again; and apologized to Manuel.

But the damage was done.

That is another side of Torre that his idolaters gloss over and if Kay had taken the correct approach, he wouldn't look like as vindictive and self-indulgent as he does.

  • Viewer Mail 9.22.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the divorcing McCourts:

The McCourts will NOT be the owners of the Dodgers next season. Count on it!

Jane's dialed in out there and she's rarely wrong. Trust my Consigliere.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Yankees broadcasters:

Michael Kay, Suzyn Waldman, John Sterling... why is it the "best" team in baseball has the WORST broadcasters.

If I hear "tex message" or "a-bomb from A-rod" or "See ya!" or "RODGGGGGGE-UHHHHHH" again I will hurt someone very seriously.

I'm with you on Kay and Waldman. I happen to think Sterling is funny and he doesn't try to portray himself as a journalist/baseball expert; he appears to feel as if he's an entertainer and isn't there to provide evenhanded commentary----I respect that.

As for the others, the Yankees aren't going to tolerate someone who's essentially an employee criticizing the club and I understand it. The Mets broadcast team----in a strange twist----is considered one of the best in the business and have gone a bit far over-the-top in their lust for the Phillies. Apparently when the issue was broached, they----Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez----reacted negatively.

If it were me running the SNY show, I'd tell them to tone it down and if they didn't like it, they could leave. But I'm a benevolent dictator and the life of the party (as long as it's my party.) Someone's gotta do it; might as well be me.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE me:

You hit everything on the sweet spot. I can't add a thing....hate when you do that.

I rarely let a fastball get by me. Rarely. Michael Kay is batting practice.

  • Linking the Prince:

Here's one----someone linked my posting about the Derek Jeter hit by pitch controversy on a chat forum and said the following:

The writer has a crush on Jeter and wants to have his babies. I tend to ignore opinions of people like that, though they can make for an entertaining read.

If anything is indicative of my ability to stay above partisan politics, it's this. You can do a lot of things with my opinions, but ignoring them? I can't see it happening.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Thursday talking about the stretch run. Go to Sal's site to download it on I-Tunes or click it directly here.

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.


She-Fan said...

Ah, Joe Torre. He was only in NY for 24 hours, if that, and look at all the controversy he was able to stir up. I'm almost finished with "The Yankee Years" and, even knowing all the wonderful things he did with the Yankees, I'm mad as hell at him for that book and I don't blame Cashman, the players he insulted or the YES staff for being mad too.

Jeff said...

Torre, Francona, Girardi... all beneficiaries of beyond-real payrolls and mega-star lineups (in my humble-yet-accurate opinion).

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. With best regards, ogasuco. This is a full base