Hall of Fame

I’m sorry, but I’m sick of hearing sob stories from writers who’s favorite player didn’t get elected.

Now having said at multiple times that I am a huge fan of Rob Neyer, I can’t buy this argument about feeling that John Franco was slighted because he didn’t make the cut to stay on the ballot past his first year.  
I don’t have a sabermetric system for deciding who belongs in the Hall of Fame.  My system is the sight and smell system.
If a player looks like a hall of famer–stats or no stats–and smells like a hall of famer, well, he’s a hall of famer.
Barry Larkin?
Hall of Famer.
Jeff Bagwell?
Hall of Famer.
Jack Morris?  Edgar Martinez?  Larry Walker?
All in the Hall of Very Good.
Not the hall of fame.
The true travesty isn’t that John Franco didn’t get enough support to make the cut to stay on the ballot, but that Roberto Alomar needed more than one year to get in.
The guy was the best second baseman on the planet for his era and he needs two years to get in?
The hall of fame shouldn’t be (but probably is) about statistics.
The Hall, essentially like the first Yankee stadium, was built for Babe Ruth.
Because even if Ruth didn’t put up the kind of numbers that seem like video game stats, he was bigger than the game, transformed it.
Johnny Bench redefined the Catcher position.  That alone makes him a hall of famer.
Cal Ripken changed the way the short stop position is looked at.
Hall of Famer.
Sandy Koufax played only twelve seasons, the first eight of which he was an average pitcher, but his final four ripped off a stretch of dominance that hasn’t been seen since–with the possibilty of Pedro Martinez in the late ’90′s.
He, and Pedro, are both Hall of Famers.
Because Koufax was something else, more than just a player, even if for only four solid seasons.
It isn’t about numbers.
Franco might have four hundred saves.
But so what?
Mariano Rivera would be a hall of famer if he had three hundred instead of five hundred saves because he was special.
He did it with one pitch and he was feared by everbody.
Who was afraid of John Franco?
–Rm

The Problem with Baseball

Is actually the same reason baseball is beautiful.  It is our past time as a nation.  We’ve all played baseball.  Usually the first thing a five year old remembers doing is traveling to tee-ball games.
This is also the problem with baseball; everybody played it.
So everybody thinks they’re an expert.
If you think I’m wrong, you’re proving my point by reading this at all.  Every blog in this network is a living, breathing, typing testament to that fact.
We’re all experts, just read what we’re writing.
But this is absurd.
Because we’ve all played baseball and because we’re all experts there is never any short of opinions when it comes to anything.  Just ask around; all your friends know exactly what the problem and solution is with your favorite ball club.
Colby Rasmus’ father needs to shut his mouth and take a good look at what the organization–a professional organization and probably the second most recognizable organization in the league–is actually trying to do.
I know that Rasmus’ father probably taught him how to play baseball (his father, of course, is a baseball coach) and there is undoubtedly a bit of pride at stake here, but there is a reason Mr. Rasmus coaches at an amateur level and Tony LaRussa and his staff are paid to coach.
Because the Cardinals and their staff know what they’re doing.
For his father to criticize the organization and allude to the organization trying to make his son perform more like Skip Schumaker (widely viewed as one of the least productive major leaguers) is almost unbelievable.
Aside from the fact that I can’t imagine any team anywhere trying to make somebody perform more like Schumaker, let alone a team that already has Schumaker on their roster, I don’t know where he’s getting his idea from.
Looking at Rasmus’ stats, though his Major League time isn’t great, he’s had two full seasons to look at.
What the Cardinals are suggesting Rasmus do is become more contact-oriented and have made no mention of hoping his power numbers decline.  Though .270 and less than 30 homers isn’t hard to find, it isn’t bad either.  And there is room for growth.
His rookie season he only belted 16 dingers and hit .251.  
So he’s improving and steadily.  Power numbers, OB%, OPS, all are moving in the right way. But his strikeouts are climbing at a Mark Reynolds-esque rate.
Which is what I think the Cardinals were looking at when they dicussed a more contact-friendly approach.
Not to hope he never hits more than 23 homers in a season (though with a lineup of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday you don’t need him to club thirty a season).
The problem is the same reason the game is great.  
We all love it.
We all played it.
But we all need to realize that very few of us are experts.
–RM

Money, Money, and MONEY

Not that any of us didn’t already know that signings were about the money and absolutely nothing else, and if you didn’t know it feel free to click on this link here over and over again until you understand why I’m having you click on it.  It will explain everything.  

Then click on this link if you need further explanation.
So, according to Jerry Crasnick’s piece, the Texas Rangers asking Cliff Lee what it would take to keep him in Arlington is an “unconventional” way to go about it.  Which seems strange to me.
No matter what posturing happens after the signing happens, this is, in fact, without a doubt, all about the money.
Winning and the Game have naught to do with it.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  
Because if it were about winning the answer to such an “unconventional” approach to negotiating would be simple.  “To keep me in Texas, sir, I need a commitment to winning,” and the salary would be a moot point.
But due to Lee’s agent’s response regarding the unfathomable way the Rangers are conducting their negotiations winning quite clearly has nothing to do with it.  It’s about years and dollars.
Which is nothing new, or shouldn’t be, at least.  
But look at the strategy the Rangers took, it makes perfect sense to me.  Ask what it would take and see if you can do it.
Simple. No back-and-forths.  No bidding war.  
Years and bucks is all its about.
Now its official and in the news about it.
–RM

Werth it..?

Jayson Werth, that is.

And the answer is unequivocally no.
I wrote before about Werth’s worth being inflated by a number of things, not the least of which being hype, and seeing his deal at $126 million at seven years is about as absurd a business move as I’ve ever seen.
Never mind that he isn’t worth the 7 years (he’s gonna be 32 in May) or the $126 million (a guy with less than 700 career hits is hardly worth $18 million a season), but what are the Nationals doing forking over that kind of money?
I mean, the Yankees are expected to pour copious amounts of money and over pay for stars moving into their twilight years, but the Nationals?
Are they trying to make up for missing out on Mark Teixeira a few winters ago?  
I mean this is the Nationals, right?
The team that lost 93 games and finished fifth in their division.  
I get that they said good-bye to their second best offensive player in Adam Dunn, but this is ridiculous.  I’ve spoken at length why Werth isn’t worth a contract of that nature so it doesn’t require any more time, but that the Nationals are forking out this kind of money is so absurd I can’t just let it go.
Forgetting that they screwed up the market so bad rival executives are shedding pounds sweating thinking about what they’ll have to shell out for, say, Carl Crawford.
A guy who is three years younger, far more established, and twice the player.
Is $25 million a season over ten years an impossibility? 
It probably was two days ago, but it isn’t now.  
But the Nationals.  They can’t pitch.  And with the comments the new GM of the Diamondbacks made about pitching winning championships it would seem that not all of MLB’s teams are heeding the advice. 
And it looks like the Nationals are just flat out ignoring it.
Granted, in their defense, there isn’t much in the way of pitching available (after Cliff Lee) on this market.
But gimme a break.
Jason Werth isn’t going to move that team into anything better than a fourth place finish for the length of his deal.
Bryce Harper can’t drink legally yet and won’t be an impact player until probably the third year of the Werth deal (his age 35 season an probably the middle of his decline).  Stephen Strasburg will be a non-issue until 2012 at the earliest and there is no guarantee he’ll be the Strasburg he was before the surgery.  Ryan Zimmerman will still be the premiere third baseman in baseball, but he doesn’t pitch.
The rest of their lineup consists of journeymen and reclamation projects–and none of which pitch.
And the ultimate what-is-going-on-here moment is this: Washington won’t even lost their draft pick for signing a type-A free agent.  Because it will be the third in the draft and is therefore protected.
Until they can get somebody to throw the ball and keep their ERA under 5.00 and not sign their name as Livan Hernandez they can sign all the free agent bats they want.  They still won’t compete against the Phils, Braves, or Marlins.
And now they’ve got a ton of money wrapped up in one player who won’t be the player in his mid thirties that people think he is now.
-RM

Gonzo is Gone-zo

First I’m slightly upset that piece I wrote about Troy Tulowitzki signing with the Rockies a few days ago somehow managed not to get published.  I’ll sum up what I would consider a nice piece of journalism that rambled for a few hundred words with this: that signing is good for baseball.  

Now some stuff that isn’t good for baseball:  Adrian Gonzalez is heading to Boston for a trio of minor leaguers and a guy-to-be-named.
And Larry Lucchino called the Yankees the Evil Empire.  Seems like the Pot and the Kettle to me.
Adrian Gonzalez, had he played east in Chicago or New York or Boston would be the face of the game and a household product.  
Yet he is still regularly unmentioned when discussing the premiere players in either league.
And now he’s going to be calling Massachusetts home for the foreseeable future.
And this is what is wrong with baseball.
Now I don’t know what the financial situation is in San Diego, though I’m sure its more stable than that of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, but this is just stupid.
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, right?  I think this was the time to do that with the Padres and they missed the opportunity.
Prospects is all they got back.  Prospects.
Many a GM have lost their jobs betting on Prospects.
And now the Red Sox have the best first baseman in the league not named Albert Pujols.
But I got news for you: the Sox didn’t miss the playoffs because they didn’t score enough runs.  The missed the playoffs because they gave up too many.
But it doesn’t matter anyway.  There is very little difference between the Sox and the team in the Bronx.  Overspend and make additions that aren’t necessary are hallmarks of the franchise.
And the Padres get some prospects that aren’t going to make a difference for two seasons at best.
They were one game from the playoffs.  Add a bat or two and they probably make the playoffs.
Instead the Padres continue their perpetual state of rebuilding.
Hardly seems like a good idea to me.
But then again I watch baseball, I don’t run a team.
–RM

Well, this is funny

Apparently, according to Buster Olney, the Yankees have a second option if Derek Jeter decides he wants to change uniforms and collect his 3,000th hit someplace else.

Eduardo Nunez.  I don’t know who he is and neither do you.  I’d be surprised if you could find ten people within thirty blocks of Yankee Stadium who can tell you anything about him.
So sure, he’s the perfect choice to take over the mantle of Yankee short stop.
And lets be clear about one thing right off the bat: this is not the same as Mickey Mantle taking over for Joe DiMaggio in Center.
The Yankees haven’t said as much because they aren’t that stupid.  They realize that they must actually consider the possibility that Derek Jeter might just leave (though I doubt it) and have to have somebody playing short stop for the 2011 season.
And the pressure that Nunez will have could, arguably, be more than what Mantle had to endure.  The only difference is that Mantle was told he was going to replace DiMaggio and be better than Joe D.
Thankfully for him he was.  
But Eduardo Nunez will never be as good as Jeter was.
His six year career in the minors is evidence of that even if the best words the Yankees have to say about him is he’s a “superlative” defender.
But lets have a look at a few things.
The Orioles haven’t had much of a short stop since Call Ripken Jr. called it a career.  The Reds haven’t had a catcher worth his mask since Johnny Bench hung up his spikes.  And you could make the argument that the Yankees haven’t had a great (note I said great, not good–see Bernie Williams) centerfielder since the Mick hung it up.
Replacing legends isn’t easy and that’s precisely what will be asked of whomever is going to play short stop after Derek Jeter retires or just leaves town.  
Orlando Cabrera has had his name thrown about when considering the second option in this type of operation.
He’d be a better fit.  An established veteran who obviously isn’t going to be around forever as his replacement.  
Sort of like a “rebound” if you will to get over the heartache of losing Jeter.
But if not, I wish Mr. Nunez luck, because unless he wins a world series, clubs 30 dingers and wins a gold glove in his rookie year, his career will be over the moment he takes over as Yankee short stop.
–RM

Tulo

Seems like something I wrote a few weeks back might be avoided.  Troy Tulowitzki, its rumored, is about to sign an extension, while still having three years left on his current deal, which keeps him under Rockies’ control until 2020.

I don’t know that I’ve been more thrilled to see an extension signing (whether its official or not yet) since I caught Miguel Cabrera’s extension signing a few years ago while vacationing with my family.
This contract is good for everyone; the Rockies, Tulo, and baseball.  
An AP-driven article discussing the ramifications of this deal (I don’t care if the byline says Buster Olney and/or Keith Law contributed, it was a straight AP release) and mentioned that he is the heir apparent to Derek Jeter.
I might agree with that to a certain extent, but draw a line at this: he’s never won a championship.
But that’s really a moot point right now.  
As hard as it is for me to even say this, being a staunch supporter of Jeter and idolizing him most of my adolescence, but Jeter had some great teams helping him win championships in the late 90′s.  
Paul O’Neil, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, David Cone, the list can goes on.
Tulowitzki’s supporting cast?  
And aging Todd Helton, Matt Holiday (for a season), Jeff Francis, Yorvit Torrealba, Carlos Gonzalez…
Pretty much apples and oranges really.
But other than that he is the heir apparent to take over as the spokesperson for Major League Baseball and the face of the game.
He is the premiere short stop and probably the best player in either league and deserves to get paid like it.
By comparison, his seven year deal averages just a shade under 20 million per year, compared to Jeter’s ten year deal which averaged just under 19 million a season–probably not by accident, either–which makes sense.
As a player Tulowitzki does everything Jeter does and does it better.  He hits for average, for power (a lot more power than Jeter ever did), can run, and actually deserves three more gold gloves than he’s actually got.
More though is that this is good for baseball.  Seeing Tulowitzki playing for Colorado for the next nine years, just like seeing Joe Mauer playing in Minnesota for the next decade, is a good thing.  
Being from Santa Clara, it wouldn’t have been hard to see him signing with the Giants or even the Athletics (though a more distant possibility given the Athletic’s aversion to spending money), but it wouldn’t have seemed right.
No less right than it would be seeing Jeter playing anywhere but the Bronx or Mauer anywhere but Minneapolis.
Though this isn’t exactly a discount offered by Tulowitzki or his representation, especially considering the kind of discount Evan Longoria gave the Rays a few years ago, 19 million is nothing to shake a stick at.  The money he could have commanded on the open market?  The thought is absurd.
You can probably start guessing at 25 million average annual salary and go from there.
If he stays healthy up to his extension kicking in it will be a more discounted price for sure, but even if he doesn’t its still saving the Rockies’ money in the long run.
I feared that Jeter was going to be the last guy who played for one team his whole career (and lately I’m wondering if he’s even gonna do that), but with Mauer essentially guaranteeing his career will end in Minnesota and now Tulowitzki looks like he’ll do the same.
His contract runs out when he’s 36 and if recent history is evidence of anything its that careers aren’t what they used to be after 36.
–RM

Hmm

There was a time that I would take any move David Dombrowski made and take it as a golden move that would pay dividends in the future.  I was the happiest when we shipped Curtis Granderson to New York of anybody in the Metro Detroit area.  I was even happy when Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were shipped to Florida for Miguel Cabrera (even in Willis had to come along too).  

But I have to wonder now, with a few different things having happened in the recent weeks, if this is the case anymore.
I first must operate under the assumption that he knows some things I don’t (which is a pretty safe bet).
Like, for one, do we really think the Tigers have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs next year?  
I guess its possible.  After all they do play in a division that has Kansas City and Cleveland playing in it.  Chicago isn’t a power and Minnesota has some question marks of their own.  
So I grant you, it is possible that the motor city kitties could make the playoffs.  But is that all we shoot for?  Making the playoffs?  
I would rather watch another .500 team in 2011 if it meant that we could build a dynasty that would routinely go to the playoffs and win some pennants instead of trying to add free agents to try and make a run in 2011 and only 2011.
I have issue with the two major moves the Tigers have made this off-season.  
Joaquin Benoit is a good reliever, his 2010 stats would indicate that he is a great reliever.  Great might be a bit of an understatement (John Rocker looked great once too), but he does add a plus arm to a bullpen that is exciting at times–and not in a good way.
But for $16.5 million dollars?  For a set-up guy?  Seems a bit ridiculous to me.  
And then there is Victor Martinez.
A solid hitter–even better when compared only to catchers–but lacks defensively and has for most of his career.
And for ten million more than anybody else was offering.
The thing is, I’ve stated my hatred for the Red Sox at length, so there is no need to do it further, but one thing I’ve noticed is that for everything they are they are most definitely not stupid.
They let Pedro go when he was in the twilight of his career and not worth the money he was asking.  Shipped Manny out of town as soon as somebody was willing to take him.  Are shopping Papelbon now that he seems to be slipping.  
Their drafting has been awesome: Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis, Bard, Bucholz, Lester, to name a few.
They even played hardball with Jason Varitek when he grossly overestimated his value–and he was the team captain.
So, with a franchise that is pretty smart (John Lackey and Marco Scutaro signings aside), wouldn’t it stand to reason that there was a reason the Red Sox weren’t going to budge on their offer.
A reason their line in the sand was drawn?
Especially considering their catching situation is abysmal by any standard unit of measurement.
And he’s 31.  If he was a left fielder or first baseman I’d look the other way and say, fine, that’s a decent contract.
But he’s a catcher and at 31 he’s probably more like 41 and won’t go up with his production, only down.
Which brings up another point: we need to get younger as a team, not older.  Signing free agents and over paying for their twilight years doesn’t work–unless your the Yankees who can afford to have $15 dollar bench players–and hamstrings your franchise.
Especially now that the rules in place end with a forfeiture of draft picks for certain types of free agents signed.
The Tigers have almost no legitimate prospects anywhere near making an impact on the major league roster in the minors.
They need draft picks bad.  Signing, as we’ve heard rumored, Jason Werth might be a good idea short term (very short term and probably not at all) but is an awful idea for building a franchise.
Because the Tigers have holes: short, left, right, second, starting pitcher x3, and still in the bullpen.
Werth is older than Martinez and, since becoming a regular, has had one above average season and two average seasons.
He’s never driven in a hundred runs, hit .300, stolen 30 bases, or won a gold glove.
I’d really like to see some statistics on his 2009 36 homer season to be adjusted for home/road splits.  That ballpark might make David Eckstein a 25 homer kind of guy.  
Boras wants $100 million?  I hope the Tigers aren’t seriously considering it and we sign somebody, as second tier guy, and keep our draft pick.
He isn’t worth (no pun intended) it.
But again, unless the Tigers know something I, and most everyone else, don’t, I hope the spending is done or it moves into intelligent places.
–RM

Jeter

I’m not sure what to make of this, but I hope the average person isn’t going to fall for it.

Jeter is not a villain in this scenario and no matter what he does or what the Yankees say he will never be the villain in this scenario.
Or shouldn’t be, anyway.  What we’ve all read in the news, albeit never from Jeter’s mouth himself, is that the best offer on the table is 3 years and $15 million per season.  Most players, in this economy especially, would break land speed records running to the table to sign for that kind of money.
But like almost every other thing in our society, this situation doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  
Derek Jeter is not most players.  He is in a class all by himself.  
Not because he belts thirty dingers a year (he’s never hit 25 in one season), drives in a hundred runs a year (he’s done it only once), steals fifty bases a year (he’s topped out at 34 in a season), or wins batting titles (hasn’t ever), or plays other-worldly defense (his gold gloves aside).
He is in a class all by himself because of a few different things:
Intangibles (a word I hate, actually, but applies here).  He just happens to do the right thing and know when to do it as well as how to do it.  I cite his ridiculous cut off and shovel to the plate to get Jeremy Giambi out in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Loyalty.  Remember when A-Rod signed for ten years and $250 million bucks with Texas?  Jeter signed with the Yanks that same off season for far less, and after A-Rod inked his deal.  Other than stats, what did A-Rod have to bring to that table, which, as far as anybody can tell only Texas was involved in, when negotiating.  Power, to be sure, but he didn’t have squat in the way of success.  
Jeter had rings.  Four, to be exact. He could have easily took a breath and said, “Rodriguez gets 25 million per average year of his contract…?  Yeah, I’m gonna need something like 30 million average annual value over the life of my contract.”
And they would have had to pay it.
Finally, he’s in a class by himself because of what he does off the field.
Or, doesn’t, as this case may be.
Steroids?  Nope.
Messy divorce and claims of infidelity?  Not yet.
Gambling?  Nada.
In fact, he’s down right boring off the field.
Which is worth a ton if you’re a sports franchise.  
And now, when its the Yankees turn to return a little loyalty by paying a man for who he is, rather than what exactly it is he does, they balk.
And hide behind a veil of “good business” excuses.
When you can look to Jeter’s right all season long and see a giant example of how the Yankees perform lousy business practices.
Jeter won’t be the villain in this scenario, and until we hear Jeter himself and the words “I want more money and feel $15 million is a slap in my face,” come out of his mouth, I don’t think he can be considered anything more than a man who wants what he deserves.
And remember, none of this is happening in a vacuum.  I myself cringe at the size of these contracts and blanch when guys want more.  But even I understand that within professions professionals of differing statures bring in more money than others.
Not every doctor makes millions a year.  World renowned heart surgeons might.
Because they should, comparatively speaking, because that kind of doctor is in a class by themselves.
As is Jeter, and the Yankees, as well as everybody else, really should know that by now.
–RM

The Fall Classic

So its been over with now for a while, having given hundreds of other people the chance to talk about it and get it out of the way, its my turn.

The Giants are World Series champs, this is a historical fact now.  I’ve read blogs, polls, random publications online about how good the Giants were.
I gotta say, I don’t know if it was that the Giants were that good or that Texas played that poorly.  
Cliff Lee sorta became human at the worst possible time and actually begs the question about how healthy he really was.  You don’t go from dominant against the best hitting team in the post season to average against one of the worst hitting teams period in a matter of weeks.
I kept wondering why he didn’t throw his curveball as much (or at all, really), and was actually asking the television why he was pitching to Renteria a minute before he clubbed a three run dinger.  
I’ve read a few things that said that the Giants got extremely lucky.  Which they did and any Championship team can have the same be said for them.
The Rangers just flat out didn’t play well and that’s that.
The Rangers achille’s heel has always been pitching and even with the import of Cliff Lee it still was.  The ragtag group of relievers that Ron Washington ran out a few different times whilst leaving his biggest and best gun holstered (Feliz) showed that.  With Tiger cast off Clay Rapada making an appearance I think dwelling on the topic of their bullpen needs no further discussion.
Their baserunning turned out to be a problem as well.  Kinsler, Andrus, Cruz all made blunders on the basepaths throughout the series.  Kinsler actually getting picked off while being the tying run.
There is a difference between aggressive and stupid.  Cruz didn’t actually get picked off but only because an errant through didn’t land where it should was he safe.
The Rangers strongest asset was their offense, but unfortunately the Giants’ strongest asset was their pitching staff.
And they were awesome.
But had Washington done a better job of managing I think the series could have turned out differently.
Afterall with an MVP candidate and Cy Young candidate in your squad and the possibly ROY in the bullpen how do you get thumped by a group of cast offs and misfits?
–RM
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.