Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time To Strut---For Now

  • Pimpin' :

I'm a "throw the bomb early"; "deep strike"; "what's the point of having power if you don't use it?" type of guy.

With that in mind, I have to mention certain things that occurred in game 1 of the World Series that I predicted with an almost disturbing level of accuracy----an accuracy that in years gone by would have had me convicted as a practitioner of the black arts.

I'm a Dark Lord of the Sith, remember.

You can get game recaps anywhere, but you can't get statements of self-promotion and over-the-top declarations of arrogance (and have them be accurate!!!) on those same platforms; in fact, you can only find stuff like this emanating from a big time rapper or a James Bond villain bent on world domination.

If that's what you're looking for, you came to the right place.

Join me as I bask in my own terrificness (after game 1 anyway) from my World Series Preview published Monday and discussed in my podcast appearance----The Prince on the Podcast----with the SportsFan Buzz later that night:

This is a case in which the Giants lack of patience is going to help them----at least against the Stone Cold Killer, Cliff Lee. Because Lee has such amazing control, it makes no sense to wait for a pitch to hit; it's not going to work. As I've said numerous times, if the hitter waits Lee out, he's going to be down 0-2 or 1-2 before getting comfortable at the plate; then Lee's going to rip off that wicked curveball. The Giants hackers----Juan Uribe* especially----are going to have to do the damage against him.

*Uribe is 11 for 37 in his career vs Lee; with a double, a triple and 2 homers. Watch that matchup.

Despite his reputation----like that of The Most Interesting Man in the World, a reputation expanding faster than the universe----the Giants have shown little reverence to the best pitchers in baseball. They didn't care that they were facing Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt; they won't care about facing Lee; Lee's going to get knocked around at least once in this series.

The Giants went up to the plate hacking; Uribe homered; and Lee got pounded.

And then there's this:

Basestealing and reckless abandon baserunning is one of the reasons the Rangers are in the World Series. They took a "everything we've got" approach to both playoff series and it worked; but their aggressiveness could cost them with a defensively sound and fundamentally solid team like the Giants. Giants catcher Buster Posey threw out 37% of the baserunners stealing against him in the regular season; the Rangers can't have the tying run picked off in the late innings as Ian Kinsler was in game 1.

Taking risks is great----it's what brought the Rangers this far----but eventually, if you do it too many times, it's going to cost you; you're going to get caught.

Kinsler got busted being too aggressive again in the eighth inning as he tried to take second base on what he thought was a wild throw; it turned out that Aubrey Huff had the ball and threw Kinsler out at second base.

This was while the Rangers were down by four runs.

And it cannot happen.

Without getting into another indictment of the discipline that has to be enacted on a team with aggressive players, there's a difference between outright stupid aggression and intelligent, controlled aggression; it's an example of freedom within structure and the Rangers----at times----have been sorely lacking in that.

The Giants aren't.

It could be the difference in this series.

But it's still only one game.

One game.

I'm looking pretty smart for now.

For now.

Onto more serious matters.

  • Honesty makes people cranky:

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was blunt (while still being polite) in his press conference on Monday. You can read about it in detail here and here.

Among ancillary issues like free agents Jamie Moyer, Chad Durbin and Mike Sweeney; along with the contract status of manager Charlie Manuel (he's signed through next year), Amaro talked about Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins. He was refreshingly honest about both.

Regarding Rollins, he said:

"I don't know if it's about being in shape as much as it is making an adjustment," Amaro said of Rollins, who signed a five-year, $40 million deal in June of 2005. "As you get older, you have to make adjustments. I think trainers have addressed that with Jimmy. I'm sure that's something Jimmy will be cognizant of."

And with Werth:

"Jayson had a good year," he said. "It wasn't an extraordinary year. He had a tough time with men on in scoring position. It wasn't as productive a year as he's had in the past. But I think if he's not with us, there are players we can either acquire or are in our own organization that can help us."

Reading between the lines and ignoring the insane contract the Phillies gave to Ryan Howard, Amaro is being super-smart here with both Rollins and Werth. Rollins is really in no position to be making demands regarding a contract extension past his agreed-upon deal that expires next year; and Werth is not going to be back with the Phillies; so for Amaro to make these statements was refreshing and wise in both sending a message to the players and their agents; and to the fans that they'd better prepare for some firestorms as the team transitions in the next couple of years.

As for the "adjustments" Amaro mentioned, this to me is dual-sided; Rollins's injury issues need to be addressed; but so to does his approach at the plate.

Rollins has not been good since his 2007 MVP year; his descent has been rapid and he's entering an age in which he, as Amaro implied, is either going to have to adjust or continue his plummet. It remains to be seen whether Rollins accepts the fact that (like Manny Ramirez pulling his "Manny being Manny" routine) J-Roll can't "be J-Roll" and still be a productive player.

If he wants to get another contract similar to the one he has now, he's not going to have a choice; but would Jimmy be able to meet "J-Roll" somewhere in the middle for the good of the team and, by extension, the good of himself? I don't know.

Werth will only be back with the Phillies if his market collapses a la players in the past who've felt they should be getting more years and more dollars than the teams were willing to spend. It's happened relatively frequently in recent years with the aforementioned Manny; with lesser players like David Eckstein; and with players like Jody Reed whose agent cost him a long-term contract with stupidity.

The one example of this (and I've always admired it) was John Schuerholz during his negotiations with Jeff Blauser after Blauser's agent started comparing the contract Jay Bell signed with the Diamondbacks to what he was going to want for Blauser as Blauser was coming off his best season in 1997; Schuerholz balked at the comparison...then turned around and essentially told Blauser to take a hike when he signed Walt Weiss. Blauser was forced to take a short-term deal with the Cubs; never regained his top form; and was finished two years later.

Werth's agent is Scott Boras; he wants to get paid and is an in-demand free agent; the Phillies payroll is already bursting at the seams despite Amaro's assertion that they have money to spend. Presumably, they could keep Werth if Werth's demands are reasonable or, as I said before, his market collapses.

Don't bet on it. The teams that will have interest in Jayson Werth----Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Orioles and others----have the cash. Werth's getting his money and it won't be in Philadelphia.

Amaro is being very, very smart and calculating here and it's a good sign for the Phillies because compounding the mistaken contract extension for Howard would only doom the team to a Rollins-style, teamwide fall by 2012. At least now, Amaro is looking at the circumstances and reacting accordingly. Whether or not the tempestuous Phillies fanbase and Rollins are going to let that go quietly is the question.

My prediction is a resounding no.

  • The rush to be "first" to report:

Yesterday afternoon, the interwebs were buzzing with a story that Bobby Valentine was going to be the next manager of the Milwaukee Brewers----CBS Sports link.

Turns out that the story of Valentine being the next Brewers manager are either completely inaccurate or woefully premature.

He might still be the next manager of the Brewers, but obviously the reporter heard something was close; was led to believe something was close; or flung the story out there, hoping that it was true without it being true.

This is the problem with the news-at-the-click-of-a-button world in which we now live. Everyone wants to be first; to get the credit; to accumulate the traffic; to have their name attached to having "broken" the story; but is it breaking a story when a reporter writes something before it's confirmed as final and then embarrasses himself by being wrong? Or is it flinging the bomb (as I mentioned I like to do earlier) and hoping that he's right?

I'm not a reporter, I'm an agent of chaos, agent provocateur and analyst----I can get away with it because people aren't coming to me for game reports and breaking news; but when someone has such a story go viral, doesn't it dampen their credibility (if they indeed had credibility to start with) more if they're wrong than it bolsters it when they happen to be right?

I have no idea whether Valentine is going to be the next Brewers manager----it wasn't that long ago that Valentine's deal to replace Fredi Gonzalez with the Marlins was all but done and then fell apart; he might be the next Brewers manager, but "will" be? I don't know; and apparently, no one else does either.

  • Upcoming stuff:

I'll do the mail tomorrow.

In the coming days, I'll be discussing Sandy Alderson and the possibilities for Mets manager including how a Wally Backman-Alderson union would look on and off the field and if the combination work.

Also, the rumors are saying the Yankees are talking about a 3-year deal with Joe Girardi at about $9-10 million; that will be....discussed.

I was a guest with Sal on the SportsFan Buzz on Monday talking about the World Series, the Mets, the Yankees and all sorts of other things. Click here to listen directly or here to download it from Sal's site on I-Tunes.

It's my birthday. You should send me stuff. Stuff I'd want, to be specific.


She-Fan said...

Your predictions for Game 1 were on the money. The Kinsler pickoff was something we saw in the ALCS and I have no doubt we'll see it again.

Joe said...

You know, we will pick up on your accuracy. You don't need to retell us that you were right. :)

Jeff said...

I felt like I watched two different games: the nail-biter back and forth of innings 1-4, then a wild free-for-all in innings 5-9.

Guess Cliff Lee isn't Sandy Koufax or Christy Matthewson... yet.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

My World Series experience is flat out sucking Bro! No FOX on Cablevision for me. I've been listening on the radio. At least during the ALCS I got to listen to Soup Campbell (calls a great game with Dan Shulman!) but now I'm stuck with Joe Morgan. *sigh*

Bombs Away! You had me at "Throw". There's nothing like a snapping curveball and a good carpet bombing.

My guess is, the first conflict of interest Alderson and the Wilpons will have will be over SLOTTING the draft. I like the choice of Alderson for a bunch of reasons; he won't let Jeff Wilpon be a back seat driver. But I give Jeff a lot of credit for checking himself and hiring someone who no doubt will dominate Jeff's business and baseball acumen. It takes a smart and secure cookie to do that. I think Jeff handled himself well and did a good job.