Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Longtime Killer

  • Big things are happening at the winter meeting......notheyrenot!!!

For those uninitiated in my wacky sense of humor and skills with expressing it in an occasionally obtuse way, the lack of spacing in "notheyrenot" is indicative of the speed with which a rumored deal----said to be "done"----falls apart and the game of false web reporting takes off.

I know it's not funny nor profound if you have to explain it, but there are some serious dunderheads out there, case in point----the winter meetings!

Explanations aside, I'm not really kidding about the prevalent idiocy of the reporting that goes on now. A prime example is the Adrian Gonzalez trade/non-trade, signing/non-signing that happened in what seemed to be a microsecond on Sunday afternoon. It flew across the interwebs that the Gonzalez deal fell through as the deadline for the Red Sox trying to sign Gonzalez to a long term extension came and went without a deal.

Panic set in like the aftermath of a Homer Simpson-incompetence inspired nuclear holocaust. Yankees fans were chortling; Red Sox fans were panicking; and people like me who'd written a masterful posting on the Gonzalez subject were left angrily responding in knee-jerk fashion to the faux story.

Jon Heyman sent it out on Twitter that the deal fell through; others followed suit; then a few Boston reporters hanging onto a dandelion by their pinkies said things to the tune of, "I have a feeling they're still talking".

As it turned out, there are questions as to what's actually happened with Gonzalez and the Red Sox. Is there a deal in place that's not going to be announced until a set date so it won't affect the Red Sox luxury tax threshold? Are they waiting to see the condition of Gonzalez's surgically repaired shoulder before committing to him long-term? Are both sides holding off?

Who really knows?

That's not the issue. This desperation to be the "first" one to report is the landmine.

I'm not picking on Heyman, Joel Sherman or any of the other serial blockers. I'm saying that the rush to get a story out first is creating a reactionary culture in which something more important than baseball is going to be reported as fact.

It's not laughable; it's dangerous.

  • As for the winter meetings themselves:

Let's take a look at the more interesting stuff----true or not----that's coming out from the Orgy in Orlando (in which very few are getting lucky).

The longtime killer:

Offers for Cliff Lee are pouring in and, like the Gonzalez stuff, it's hard to know what's true and what's not. First it was reported that the Nationals had offered a 7-year deal, then it was denied.

Who knows? Then it's said that two teams----the Scott Boras "mystery" teams (and Boras doesn't represent Lee)----have tossed 7-year deals out there.

A 7-year deal for a 32-year-old pitcher with an injury history? It's deranged. Lee's a great pitcher, but to commit to him until he's 39? With the amount of money it's going to take? Lunacy.

Obviously, someone's going to spend a lot of cash to get the Stone Cold Killer. Whether it's going to be worth it will only be known in retrospect, but history of massive deals for pitchers----Johan Santana, Kevin Brown, Barry Zito----says it won't.

Carlos Beltran, trade or not?

The Mets should move Beltran now if they get the chance. Despite his value if he's healthy and playing well, there are the dual issues of his impending free agency after 2011 and that there's no guarantee that he's going to be healthy to perform. The Mets would have to be unbelievably lucky to: A) get a healthy Beltran; and B) extract much more from an interested team than they'll get now.

In addition to that, it's time for the Mets to move on. New regime aside, Beltran would prefer to be away from the Mets; the Mets would love to get salary relief, hand the center field job to Angel Pagan without the Beltran shadow pouting about being shifted to right field; they can give Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez or another of their youngsters a chance to play.

Is it a risk to deal Beltran for what might be a limited return? Slightly, but not as much as the risk the Royals are taking in trying to move Zack Greinke. Greinke's signed through 2012 and he's a player for whom the Royals should be making astronomical demands with it in mind that they can always hold him up for auction at mid-season when they're 15 games out of first place.

Weighing the risk/reward and off-field stuff says the Mets should jump at a reasonable deal to trade Beltran. Now.

  • Viewer Mail 12.8.2010:

David writes RE the Nationals:

You forgot to mention Jordan Zimmermann, who is a top prospect pitcher who made his debut last season after TJ surgery. If he recovers to 90% of what he was before he is a solid #2 pitcher on any team in the pros. So don't act like the Nats have no good pitching prospects. Sammy Solis also looks ready to contribute right away, being a 4 year college pitcher. Our bullpen was #4 in the majors last season with a 3.33 ERA, thanks to Tyler Clippard and the top rookie Drew Storen. Stop hating and let the Nats get better in whatever way they want.

So Jordan Zimmerman, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is going to be a number 2?


While I despise assigning numbers to pitchers, a prototypical "number 2" is Matt Garza; Matt Cain; or Chad Billingsley. That means 12-16 wins; that means 200+ innings; that means someone you can count on as the "man behind the man" in the rotation. If the Nationals get 140 innings from Zimmerman in 2011 and 170 in 2012, they'll be lucky.

As for Solis, he's ready to step into the big leagues as a contributing starter in 2011? After pitching in two professional games? Seriously?

I don't adhere to "The Verducci Effect" rules of developing pitchers----see "The Paul Effect" for a full retort to "The Verducci Effect"----but it's not entirely baseless in the development of pitchers; if you think a guy right out of college is going walk into the starting rotation and win for a contender, good luck.

The Nationals bullpen was okay; it was also abused because they had no starting pitching to eat up innings; the pressure exerted by last year's signings forced them to try and win as many games as possible in an effort to justify the over-aggressiveness.

The Nationals are trapped in the vortex. If they were a good team, they'd let Solis develop and be brought to the majors when he can pitch effectively in the majors; they'd let Zimmerman rebuild his stamina; but since they're spending heavily now to win fast, they may be forced to rush Solis; force-feed Zimmerman; bring up other decent prospects before they're truly big league ready.


"Let them get better in whatever way they want"?

This would imply I care enough to hate; that I'm somehow preventing them from "getting better in whatever way they want".

It would also imply that they're getting better.

With Jayson Werth, they made a lateral move in talent and spent $126 million to do it.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Dodgers and Don Mattingly:

You mentioned Mattingly and I really hope he has a good debut year as manager. I felt sorry for him when the organization seemed to fall apart with the divorce, but they've made some nice moves so far this off-season, so maybe he'll actually have players to manage.

The Dodgers will be a good, veteran-laden team next year. One would think that Mattingly will lean on his pitching coach to handle the staff; he'll know how to interact with the everyday players. He won't harass; he'll let them prepare in their own way. The vets will love him for it and play hard.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE "the coaching tree":

I think the "coaching tree" factor has more play in the NFL -- a game where "systems" are more relevant -- than in baseball.

If you have a Buddy Ryan system, you know what you're getting: Defense first. Same thing if I say this a "cover two team" or a "Steelers style offense" team... you know exactly what you're getting with those coaching philosophies/systems.

Baseball isn't like that. You gotta hit, catch and throw the ball. And the best only win 6 out of 10. It's a different animal and I agree that it's a bit surface to say so-and-so will do well because of his "coaching tree".

NapLajoieonsteroids also writes on "the coaching tree":

I agree with Jeff: "coaching tree" is a syncretic attempt to explain baseball through a football prism. It reflects the current popular culture where football rules and many in the media do not have the appreciation for our pastoral pastime.

Managers aren't made by strategy as in football; they rely much more heavily on competence and adaptability. This is hard to market and discuss in a 24/7 media cycle. 99% of the time, the most important tasks managers are confronted with happen happen away from the actual game- whether that be something like player preparation or simply handling egos. These things are too hard to quantify or discuss.

Sorry boys.

I'm sticking to my premise that the concept is essentially the same.

Of course, there are different aspects to the NFL and MLB; but when a coach/manager takes over in a new situation, he has to deal with what he has.

The "this is my way of playing" does have a greater place in the NFL----an owner/GM knows what they're getting when they make the hire; they make the hire based on what was accomplished in the coach's previous work environment. If the owner/GM is willing to endure a rebuild, then he lets the coach bring in his own people; if he wants to win now regardless of philosophy, then the coach either has to make do with what's there and adjust. Otherwise, it's a bad match.

We'll never know it Josh McDaniels's philosophy would eventually have worked with the Broncos because his arrogance played a large part in why he got fired.

Earl Weaver was the master at examining what he had and adjusting. He always preferred to have power, but when he didn't, he stole bases and won that way. That is the barometer of a great coach/manager; not saying, "we're gonna do it my way" and going down with the ship based on such ironclad philosophical rules. Bill Parcells did things his way in his second year with the Giants because being someone other than himself resulted in a 3-win year; he had nothing to lose.

Mike Scioscia stuck to his philosophy of little ball and it cost the Angels at least a game 5 in the 2008 ALDS. When they acquired Mark Teixeira at mid-season, they had to adjust their approach to account for the new basher; this was especially true in the playoffs; but a suicide squeeze in the ninth inning of game 4? Absurd.

Scioscia----the tree from which Black, Maddon and Roenicke were snipped----didn't adapt in 2008 and it cost him and his team a World Series shot.

I was on with SportsFan Buzz this afternoon talking about all this stuff that's currently going on.

Get the link directly on I-Tunes or go to Sal's Twitter feed and site.


She-Fan said...

Re: Mattingly. After the judge's ruling on the McCourts yesterday, I don't know what to think about the Dodgers. Now that both McCourts actually own the team, I'd have to think they're gonna sell to get out of all the debt. The chaos could continue into next season.

Gabriel said...

On the argument of the coaching tree, I think the concept is more relevant in the NFL due to one simple thing: the draft is more relevant. It's not easy for teams in MLB to trade for players that will fit in the manager's preferred system, however, it's relatively easier to draft youngsters that will fit in the coach's system and are available to play right away. In my opinion, the differences in the way young players develop in the two sports has a big impact on how franchises are built and managed in the NFL and the MLB.

Jeff said...

Agreed on the Winter Meeting hulabaloo. Jeesh, I've heard a billion different "rumors", too many that I can't place them all. Probably for the best.

I see what you're saying with the systems/coaching trees, but I can't agree that it's as prevalent in baseball. You won't find an Albert Haynesworth in the Majors. Why? Because everyone is expected to play the same game (as opposed the same style of game.)