Unfortunately, work-related craziness has kept me from posting that much recently, but I didn’t want to miss out on commenting on a few pretty stupid articles that have caught my eye recently.
– This article from Jerry Thornton at WEEI is so bad that at first I was pretty sure I was reading The Onion. The premise is that stat geeks are secretly trying to take over baseball and if the Red Sox do well this year, those geeks might succeed. I’m not joking. You see, Jerry used to be a “stat-geek” – because he read the back of baseball cards (and who has time for that kind of analysis but total geeks?) – but then he discovered women and stopped looking at those numbers on the back of baseball cards. Apparently women and numbers are like oil and water: you can’t have them both together.
Oh, and there’s this:
I mean, consider Bill James, who is like a god to these Sabremetric trolls. He’s made an industry out of making up silly, useless formulae to prove things like Alex Gonzalez should be bussing tables in the Fort Myers Waffle House, and yet Theo has given him a position of power and influence in his inner circle.
Make this exhibit 1A for why Red Sox fans don’t deserve success. And for the record Jerry: Theo Epstein (as much as I may dislike him) is the young and successful GM of the Red Sox and you’re a dorky looking columnist. Pretty sure he can mix stats and women a lot more than you can.
– The guys at noMaas have already covered it extensively, but it’s still worth mentioning this Bill Conlin article that claims the Phillies currently have the greatest infield in the modern era of baseball. When a noMaas reader e-mailed in to let him know that he was pretty much insane, since the Yankee infield right now is clearly superior, his response was simply “STEROIDS.” Two things:
1 – This is just more evidence as to why baseball writers have made the steroids era worse than it is. You can’t use steroids as an excuse to support your version of the game. You don’t know who did steroids or who did not do steroids. You do not know how much steroids helped any athlete. You do know, however, that Placido Polanco isn’t a particularly good baseball player and that Alex Rodriguez is a great one. Those are immutable facts, and if it’s your job to write about baseball and report about it, you should probably focus on those facts. How is it that most bloggers know that yet so many paid sportswriters do not?
2 – Are Phillie fans really talking themselves into the Placido Polanco Era? I missed doing a transaction analysis on that signing, but my quick analysis: in this market it is unadvised to give a 3-year deal to a 34 year old, light-hitting, good fielding second baseman. Polanco had an OPS+ of 88 last season, but his good fielding at second (+11 UZR) certainly made him a good player. But players who are good defenders and poor offensive players don’t generally command 3-year deals; ask Adrian Beltre (an even better defender) and Mike Cameron (a much better hitter). Now, Polanco’s not a terrible option at second base, because he does play good defense and he doesn’t strikeout much so if the Phillies really needed a second baseman, overpaying isn’t the worst thing ever. But of course the big catch is that the Phillies have the best second baseman in all of baseball. They want to take Polanco, who’s one primary asset is he’s a good defensive second baseman, and move him to third, a position where offensive production, and power in particular (of which Polanco has none), is more important.
Oh, right, and we’re supposed to believe the Phillies now have the best infield of the modern era? Nice try.
– Lesser on the stupidity scale, but still worth mentioning, is Bill Madden’s piece on why the Yankees should fear the Red Sox rotation. Now, the premise itself isn’t that crazy; the Red Sox do have good starters and should be very good this year. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey are all capable of leading a rotation.
The problem I have with the article, is this:
Indeed, the fact that Francona is boasting about a five-strong rotation of Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, with 43-year-old Tim Wakefield, a first-half All-Star last year before he sustained back problems that required surgery, in reserve, should come as unsettling news to Yankee legions watching Joe Girardi conduct endless tryouts for the fifth spot in his rotation.
Oh right, I forgot, the Yankees are choosing between Sidney Ponson and one of Joe Girardi’s sons for that last spot in the rotation. They approached the Royals about reacquiring Kyle Farnsworth, but didn’t have the pieces to get it done. They clocked Jamie Hoffmann throwing 85 from the outfield, so they might give him a shot. How will the Yankees ever find a 5th starter?
Seriously, last time I checked the Yankees had 2 of baseball’s more promising young pitchers – Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes – competing for one spot (not to mention Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre). The Red Sox have Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield. One guy pitched almost entirely in the minors last year and the other is in his 40s. The Yankees unquestionably have the advantage at the 5th (and “6th”) starter spots. Just because Girardi is having a tryout doesn’t mean he doesn’t have options. As a matter of fact, is there a team in all of baseball with better 5th starter options than the Yankees? Only in NY can we find ways to complain how our strengths.
(UPDATE: After writing this, I realized that Moshe Mandel over at TYU also made some comments on this Madden piece that I, not surprisingly, agree with.)