Wednesday, November 3, 2010


  • The time has come to end this:

By "this" I mean rampant self-indulgent, agenda-laden and bottom-line irresponsible speculation disguised as reporting by the mainstream media. As the entity dies a slow and agonizing death and they come to grips with the new way sports (or anything) is analyzed, the remaining holdouts feel the pressure. Pressure from people who do what I do (even if they're not as good); from editors demanding the flashy and splashy, accuracy be damned; from fans continually looking for news regarding their teams or chosen sports. Responding in a surreptitious fashion by altering their prior style, the mainstream media furtively looks left and right with darting, paranoid eyes, waiting for the next attack which may never come.

Or they ignore the growing sentiment for something fresh and new by hoping it goes away; to get things back to the way they were.

But there's no going back.

The world is changed.


So, let's take a look at the recently fired up hot stove to see what we can come up with; what we can attack in the interests of truth and the cult of the new; the cult of the better.

Ron Roenicke to manage the Brewers:

Hold on a minute!!!!

It was only a week ago that a report claiming Bobby Valentine was the next Brewers manager rocketed across the interwebs with a speed only heretofore seen in Dallas as fans jump off the Cowboys bandwagon.

Here's the report from Bill Scott and picked up by JSOnline----link.

The important bit was the following:

Bill Scott of the Wisconsin Radio Network is reporting that the Brewers have "an agreement in principle" with former Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine to be their next manager. Check back frequently, as we'll be updating this story as it develops.

This wasn't even irresponsible in the Michael Kay vein of buffoonish, fan-related, getting the "vapors" and fainting like an overwhelmed Southern belle when Kay declared the ALCS "over" after the first game.*


No, this was just hack stuff the type of which you see in the game of telephone as a kindergartner.

Even if Scott got this information from Valentine, Brewers GM Doug Melvin or owner Mark Attanasio, he had to show some discretion before running with it as if it was concrete fact.

Almost immediately, the story began to fall apart and I have to wonder what the basis of it was. Could the Brewers have offered Valentine the job? Was it a plant from someone from either camp to grease the skids to get a deal done? Or was it simply jumping the gun on the part of the reporter hoping to get it out first?

The mistake might have been palatable had Valentine eventually been the choice, but yesterday, the Brewers evidently selected Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke as their new manager----Yahoo Sports.

A reduction in credibility isn't the way to describe such a gaffe; it's humiliating.

As for the Roenicke hiring, he's got experience managing in the minor leagues; he comes from a good organization and from under a respected leader with Angels manager Mike Scioscia; and he's a longtime big league coach and former player. That said, I'd have hired Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph or former manager Dale Sveum (who was in charge of the team as they made the playoffs in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired) before bringing in an outsider.

Despite Roenicke having the qualities I'd look for in a manager, it appears to be a case of "same-old, same-old" that they've exhibited with the hirings of Yost, Ken Macha and now Roenicke.

Perhaps the Pirates are a good match for Randolph; he began his professional career with the Pirates and they're a young team in need of a winning attitude and discipline that Randolph would provide and he's a much better choice than Clint Hurdle, whom the Pirates are set to interview. Randolph deserves another chance somewhere.

An new address for Joba?

Andrew Marchand speculates on the future of Joba Chamberlain in this ESPN column.

To me, the aspect of the piece that is most glaring is this:

The Yankees don't know exactly why Chamberlain hasn't fulfilled his promise. They don't buy into the theory that by shifting him from the bullpen to the rotation they messed with Chamberlain's head.

They don't?


It's not the shifting of roles that was the problem with Chamberlain in and of itself; it was the shifting; the fiery debate of what he should be; the Joba Rules; the Joba-mania that took hold in 2007 and resulting self-importance that's only natural in a 21-year-old who still isn't particularly mature; and the way he's been harassed by everyone, everywhere for not being the unstoppable force he was for that one magical month when all you had to say was "Joba" to know what the term meant.

Is Chamberlain salvageable?

Of course. Only in extreme cases do I think someone with immense potential (even if it's buried under a load of crud) is beyond saving. But the Marchand implication----from the title----suggests that the Yankees might deal Chamberlain.

Would they trade the previously untouchable fastballer who'd been compared to Roger Clemens?


Are they going to?

Only if they're getting something for him. And by "something" I mean a player they feel is of commensurate ability who hasn't worked out in his organization----Andrew Miller and Leo Nunez of the Marlins for Chamberlain?----or in a big deal for a name player to clear salary and fill a hole.

As of right now, Chamberlain's value is about a third of what it was when he came up to the majors. Because he's still young (25); cheap (he's arbitration-eligible for the first time); and has that potential, every team would still love to get their hands on him as a starter or reliever.

With so much time and promotion invested in him, they're not dumping him at low value; but for the Yankees to have a flicker of belief that they don't know what went wrong? It's pure delusion on the part of Marchand and the club if they're partaking in such ignorance. I'm a believer in personal responsibility and Chamberlain bears the brunt of some of his failure, but if he never fulfills his promise, the fault lands predominately on the heads of the Yankees and no one else.

Joel Sherman and Michael Kay should combine on a Yankees fan blog:

And simultaneously spare the rest of us from their "evenhanded" analysis.

Never before has such a clear agenda been shadowed so clumsily.

Joel Sherman wants Cliff Lee in pinstripes, obviously, but how about a little less selfishness and a little more objectivity. Read this column about the Rangers and Lee----link.

Without getting into a long, drawn out dissection of the Rangers payroll, Sherman's goal of positioning the Yankees as Lee's only option is clear; it'd be refreshing if he admitted it rather than do what he does (poorly).

The assertion that the Rangers would be making a similar mistake with Lee as they did with Alex Rodriguez is discounting the idiocy of the A-Rod contract from top-to-bottom. That Rangers team wasn't close to winning a title with only A-Rod as the missing piece, they were a veteran team that had its chances in the playoffs and whose time had passed; nor did they have a cogent plan to integrate A-Rod into a teamwide scheme. Add in that A-Rod's contract from the Rangers was at least $100 million richer than the next best offer and you see how Scott Boras played then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks into doing something ridiculous.

This is totally different. If the Rangers keep him, the Lee contract wouldn't be so drastically different from that which the other interested teams are going to offer; they don't----as Sherman says----have to worry about Josh Hamilton's free agency until 2013 which, conveniently, is the same year in which Michael Young's in the final year of his $16 million annual salary.

With a 2010 payroll of $64 million, the Rangers are going to have room to expand; and with the way GM Jon Daniels has permeated the organization with prospects and a hitter-friendly ballpark, they don't have to be as cognizant of replacing Vladimir Guerrero's bat in the lineup. And does Sherman really think the Rangers are going to go crazy to keep Darren O'Day?

As for the Yankees, they have about as many questions to the idea of signing Lee as the Rangers. Lee's age (32); his contract; the Yankees aging core; and that Lee's going to want to be sufficiently placated financially for the heavier tax burden in New York and his wife's treatment during the ALCS makes it far from the implied automatic that Yankee fans suggest Lee's acquisition will be.

Sherman tries to use his column to make himself a power broker; but to be a legitimate power broker, one must have some competence; or at least the ability to more deftly disguise what one is doing.

With him, I see neither.

Finally, the media's favorite activity----hammering the Mets:

In the interests of full disclosure, this ESPN Story regarding the changes currently in motion for the Mets under new GM Sandy Alderson was written by Adam Rubin, for whom I've got a growing respect and even affinity (keep that between us; bad for the image).

While it's pretty much straight reporting of what happened----a few scouts are leaving and are unhappy about the way their departure was orchestrated/handled----there's an underlying tone of "same old Mets/Mess".

I can understand both ends of this argument. The scouts who'd worked for the club under Omar Minaya were left hanging after Minaya was fired, weren't allowed to look for alternative employment in case the new GM decided (as Alderson has) not to keep them. Alderson's essentially cleaning out the house.

Bottom line, the Mets can't have it both ways here; they can't let the new GM decide not to keep these men on the job while not letting them look for other jobs just in case they weren't wanted; it's not fair.

The Mets deserve to be ripped for this.

One issue I have to quibble with is the idea that the scouts----specifically Russ Bove who "had overseen the 2005 draft that yielded Mike Pelfrey, Josh Thole, Bobby Parnell and Jon Niese..."----were so integral to the club's success that they should be lambasted for making changes to the scouting operation.

Which is it?

Are the Mets the inept and clueless disorganization that couldn't develop their own players, adhered to the slotting system for bonuses because of cheapness; and had a system that was considered barren before this season (and before some of these players showed impressive ability)? Or are they letting imperative and intuitive baseball people leave angry due to continued clubwide bewilderment?

The Mets handled this terribly, but I'm not going to whine about these scouts leaving or being dismissed. Alderson has every right----even a duty----to bring in people he wants.

On that note with the Mets, they've hired former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi as Alderson's special assistant. I heartily endorse this move. While Ricciardi had his warts as a GM, he's a solid evaluator and smart man. The same qualities that hindered him as a GM (speaking his mind; ferocity; intensity; faith in what he believes) will add a great deal to the Mets as an assistant. I don't want to be surrounded by "yes" men; and Ricciardi is definitely not one of those.

  • Viewer Mail 11.3.2010:

Joe writes RE Moneyball:

I am pretty sure 'Moneyball' gave us the impression that the playoffs are a crapshoot, and that making the playoffs is good enough because of that. Both of these things seem to ring true with the Giants winning/ Now, I don't know that it is as much a "crapshoot" as some do, but I do believe "random variation" (luck) plays a part in a short series. Regardless, the Giants were a good team. I just don't believe they were the best team in baseball.

I find the excuses regarding Moneyball to be ludicrous. You can't be a "genius" for the good things and have ready-made, cookie-cutter answers for the failures like "the playoffs are a crapshoot"; it doesn't work that way.

"Billy Beane didn't make it as a player because he was too analytical."

"His early Athletics playoff teams lost because of bad luck; the latter teams were bad because everyone else was using the same stat-based techniques he was."

"It was Art Howe's fault; it was Ken Macha's fault; Moneyball was a point-of-view of a business model and not a final word on how an organization should be run."

Blah, blah Blah.

The Giants won because they got big hits; had great pitching from top-to-bottom; and a manager who wasn't beholden to a book of ridiculous "rules" he had to follow or run the risk of being fired or called onto the carpet by a paranoid and self-serving GM.

Joe also writes RE Edgar Renteria:

As for Renteria, he has hit .252/.327/.339 in the playoffs. That is not good. If he was so "clutch" shouldn't he have not made the last out in 2004? Shouldn't he have elevated his game and got on base somehow? He has played in 66 (!) postseason games. A decent player is bound to have some "huge" hits in those moments. And just for the record, his first "huge" hit was a bloop single. Seems like that could have happened to anyone. Just like in the regular season, Renteria has had a key hit at some time. Just like everyone else who starts on a regular basis.

Do you really consider the last out of the 2004 World Series a "clutch" situation? With the Cardinals down 3 games to 0 in the series and 3-0 in the game? That series was over no matter what Renteria did.

As for the "bloop" hit, they all look like a line shot rocket in the boxscore and it wasn't "anyone" who got that hit and the homer in this World Series off of Cliff Lee----it was Renteria.

If your read the book about the Marlins 1997 championship run, If They Don't Win It's A Shame by Dave Rosenbaum, Renteria's teammates, coaches and old-school manager Jim Leyland wanted him up in a big spot above the likes of Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou, who were both on that club. To me, that says more about the man than any statistic could; and he's had the winning hit in two championships; the other stuff is meaningful, but not the end point in a debate as to what he's accomplished.

Matt writes RE Chuck Greenberg:

I totally agree with your Greenberg bit. Last night I watched a feed of the game from Fox' Spanish language affiliate, and though I don't speak Spanish it was the best baseball broadcast I've experienced in a long time. Besides who I didn't have to listen to, I was so impressed with Ozzie Guillen's passion. In this age of apologies he really is the most interesting man in the game and I would love to see him in Florida. He could make baseball come to life in Miami.

Hal Steinbrenner said he was "very angry" at the Greenberg comments----ESPN Story.

It's silly. The Yankees embraced the Larry Lucchino "Evil Empire" comment because it sounded cool and portrayed the Yankees in a way that George Steinbrenner found appealing; now that Greenberg says something idiotic, the Steinbrenners have a conniption fit.

Greenberg apologized; the Yankees accepted the apology; let's see if this goes on and on.

I enjoy listening to the Spanish broadcasts on the Fox game of the week when there's a second game on Fox Sports World. It helps me brush up on my language skills. That said, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver help me with my skills in a different way because they give me stuff to write, scream and complain about. Both have their uses.

I'm a fan of Ozzie Guillen as well; he's a great manager; literally comes without a filter; and is far more calculating and intelligent than people give him credit for.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE Chuck Greenberg and Brian Cashman:

Greenberg ~ Classic example of not knowing how to comport yourself in his first visit to late October baseball. That's a statement born from lack of experience and organizational success. Practice makes perfect.

So now, according to Brian Cashman's thinking, Bruce Bochy the irresponsible and gut-thinking skipper, is now a Champion. Chalk one up for Old School! Stats have a place in the baseball world, but they can't qualify everything. Probability is defyingly unpredictable.

I think Greenberg was legitimately annoyed at how the Rangers families were treated and, very importantly, wanted to make a definitive statement to Lee, whom he desperately wants to re-sign; he should've toned it down.

Cashman has made his bed with the new stat-based culture around the Yankees and the way he's treated the aforementioned Chamberlain and his manager Joe Girardi. Here's my question: if you don't trust your manager to be able to think on his own, why have him as your manager in the first place?

I totally understood Cashman's reluctance to deal with both Lou Piniella and Don Mattingly for reasons I've mentioned numerous times (mostly centered on power and the inability to fire them), but there were other qualified people to hire if he didn't trust Girardi; but Girardi, as smart as he is, wasn't going to rock the boat with the inconvenience of thinking.

Blue Binder or bust!

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Chuck Greenberg:

The problem with the Greenberg remarks was that he's the CEO of a team that was fighting for a championship. He's entitled to his opinion, but why become a distraction? That's what Selig's office objected to. The focus should have been on the games.

Agreed. He should've kept his mouth shut or at least waited to air his feelings. As Mike said, that comes from experience. I don't see this as a big deal; people are making it into more than it deserves to be like the John Rocker nonsense from years ago (and this isn't as bad as that).

Gabriel (Acting Underboss) writes RE the World Series and Moneyball:

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their championship and the Texas Rangers on their awesome season.

It is somewhat fitting that in The Year of the Pitcher, the best pitching staff in the National League claimed the championship.

Although I agree a little bit with the Moneyball assertion that the best team in baseball isn't always the World Series winner because of the high variability of a single baseball game, I do think that even though in the playoffs they play a different game, the best team in baseball during the regular season should prepare for winning in the playoffs too. Thinking that making the playoffs is good enough is mediocre. There's no ring for having the best record, but in every executive, player, manager and coach, there exists a desire to win a championship ring, no matter what they think of the playoffs.

There are occasions where the better teams get bounced. Were the Rangers a "better" team on paper? Maybe, but they didn't hit because of the Giants pitching. Sometimes it's matchups; sometimes it's slumps; sometimes it's fate; sometimes it's an umpire's call; but to call it a "crapshoot" as if to leave everything up to fate and remove all responsibility from everyone? The crapshoot theory should've at least gotten the Athletics past the first round in one of their playoff years from 2000-2003. If it were accurate, that is.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Chuck Greenberg, Brian Sabean and me:

Fuhgettabout all dat whiney touchy feely politically correct crap. I would've stuck with my comments (and guess what, I have!).

As for your analysis of Sabean and his moves, I found the paragraph about how spending on Zito and Rowand forced him to the bargain bins quite poetic.

Who said there's no beauty in baseball?

My poetry comes from nowhere sometimes and even I fail to see it!!

These are not capricious compliments from my associates; like Sandy Alderson, I don't want "yes" men working for me.

I was on with Sal at the Sportsfan Buzz a little while ago talking about all this stuff. You can listen directly here; or download it from I-Tunes on Sal's site here.


She-Fan said...

I think Joba was ruined by the midges in Cleveland. He hasn't been the same since, so I'm going with "Undiagnosed Midge Disease."

Jeff said...

Can we really expect anything less than sleazy, flip-floppin', big headedness from someone at the Post (Sherman)? The only thing I would use the Post for is to clean up shit, and even that seems too kind.