Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I realize that Kevin Towers doesn't read this blog, nor does he care much about the sabermatricians in his fan base. The Padres, frankly, are exactly the kind of franchise that pulls these kinds of moves. They're big on "character," and thusly guys who supposedly possess at surfeit of it. Me? I'm big on guys who can play baseball to some degree. I am convinced that Craig Counsell is no longer even bad at baseball; he really doesn't even exist anymore.
Counsell, in 2006: .255/.327/.347
In case everyone else was wondering, that last number is Counsell's slugging percentage, not OBP. If that were Counsell's OBP, that would be pretty awesome for him, considering it's three points higher than his career average. And that's the thing about Counsell that really pisses me off: If he were an aging veteran who was on the downside of his career, I could see it. But Counsell's 2007 season wasn't far off the beaten path for him; he's always been a shitty baseball player. But, because he has a high Eckstein Grittiness Metric score, he's beloved and probably won't have to retire until he's 60 and his VORP has hit -78.
And, now, it looks like he might be starting(!) for the Friars at second base next season. Christ. I don't want to hear Justin talk about David Bell, ever again.
Other things that are making me pissy this morning:
- I cut Peter Gammons a ton of slack. Even though he's still a little old-timey with some of his analysis, he's also done an admirable job of accepting the newer ways of looking at baseball and bringing them to a bigger stage. If anything, he's done more for Bill James' Q-rating than just about anyone else not named Billy Beane or Michael Lewis. And, for about three years, he was the only remotely reasonable, informed baseball mind on Baseball Tonight, which went from being my favorite show on television to unwatchable with the introduction (simultaneously, even!) of Harold Reynolds, John Kruk and Steve Phillips. Oh, and Brantley was on there every so often as well.
But has anyone else noticed that Peter Gammons isn't even remotely making sense anymore? Jesus, man, where are the copy editors? Don't they know that this is one of the greatest baseball writers to ever live that they're allowing to look like a buffoon? Give him some goddamn help!
- This story, right here, made me want to punch someone. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by septuagenarian women today, so that's probably a bad idea. But, honestly, it's this kind of sports commentary that makes me absolutely crazy. And, because Buster links to this asshole a lot, I end up reading most of his uninformed crap. He's a dickwad.
If I'm a GM, do I sign Drew? Probably not. The injury history is super-problematic, and to whatever degree "clubhouse chemistry" has an effect on the outcome of games -- I suspect it's much, much less than most fans and sportswriters think it is -- Drew's clearly not going to be a guy that everyone else on your team wants to hang out with. But if I were a GM, I probably wouldn't want to sign Soriano or Lee, either, and the three of these guys are the only "impact" bats available on the free agent market. Considering the absurd amount of money that's been thrown at Soriano and Lee, neither of whom are anywhere close to as valuable (when healthy) as Drew is to a lineup, and the Red Sox's potential need for a bat to replace Manny, Epstien's interest in Drew is far from "obscene." It's the symptom of a market that's gone absolutely crazy. And, frankly, it makes a lot more sense than them throwing that money at a guy like Lee, who acts as if walks are an affront.
One thing that made me feel a little better this morning:
- Burn, Ned Coletti. Burn.
- This and this have completely turned my day around.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
More interesting to me is this, a question I posed to a friend of mine at the bar last night that I'll now ask the chorus: Why are "geeky" statistics OK in football, but verboten in baseball?
I was thinking to myself today that if Steve McNair somehow gained traction for an MVP bid, and he was up against fellow quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, there would be no fucking way that anyone would ignore quarterback rating when making the decision. Sure, everyone knows quarterback rating isn't the only statistic worth looking at. But it's a heck of a tiebreaker, and more often than not people look to it as the most well-rounded stat when comparing quarterbacks.
Now, here's where I can see one issue: There are probebly about three or four metrics that can be considered baseball's QB rating. One (which is my favorite) is VORP, which is a measure of the number of runs a player is worth over a replacement at his respective position. Another is WARP3, which is a measure of the number of wins a player was worth to his team, based solely on offensive numbers and irrespective of position, and adjusted for "all-time" so it's valid as a comparison against previous eras when offenses performed at different levels. There's also EqA, which is a batting-average type metric that attempts to take into account a player's total offensive production in a number form baseball fans are already comfortable with. Then there's OPS+, ERA+, Win Shares ... I understand, it can be a little numbing.
But while I understand that sabermetrics can be a little overwhelming, and maybe even off-putting, I cannot understand why there isn't a sportswriter in America, who while writing about the MVP choices they disagreed with (and with good reason), didn't point out that the respective VORPs proved the point they were otherwise making. Would it be so hard to say, "And, to top it all off, Jeter had a way better VORP than Morneau," without being run out of the profession? Because there isn't a single football writer that won't mention QB rating, and that equation is about as confusing, if not more, than anything sabermatricians have come up with.
So, tell me sportswriters,
Sunday, November 19, 2006
We'll go by year here.
2001 -- Played a great Rams team and almost beat them, but couldn't stop the run and couldn't get any offense going early in the game (an obvious sign of bad preparation and playcalling). Forced to win it himself, McNabb threw a late interception that killed their chances. No major injuries to blame -- everybody thought we'd get there next year.
2002 -- See 2001, except with two interceptions and against a better Tampa defense. McNabb was coming off a broken leg. Everybody used that as an excuse.
2003 -- See 2002, except with three interceptions against a team that was clearly inferior. Westbrook was gone with an injury, and everybody used this as an excuse.
2004 -- Hard to fault a coach for a 13-3 season in which his team goes to the Super Bowl and loses to the best Patriots team ever by 3 points, right?
Well, sort of. Obviously his playcalling and personnel decisions factored into his team's success. But let's not forget that McNabb had the best season of his career, one of the best recent seasons by an NFL quarterback. Nobody asked the question, because there's no reason to question success. But the question was, did Reid make McNabb look like the best QB in the NFL, or did McNabb make Reid look like the best coach?
That question didn't arise until the Super Bowl. Down 10 late in the game, they had a chance to win it -- they really did -- except their fourth-quarter TD drive took more than six minutes. Was it McNabb's fault, because he got sick? Or was it Reid's for mismanaging the clock and not having a set of plays prepared for a hurry-up situation? All I know is this -- Reid called seven consecutive short pass plays to the middle of the field to start the drive. When they finally called a decent play (with two minutes left), and Greg Lewis got open deep, McNabb delivered the ball right on target. He wasn't that sick.
The Patriots were a great team that year, and McNabb threw two costly picks. But Reid sure didn't help his cause much. The bottom line is that Reid had the best Eagles team ever, and didn't win the Super Bowl.
2005 -- Last year, it was TO, and then it was McNabb's injury. The TO thing is semi-legitimate; the man obviously disrupted the locker room. But good coaches don't let that happen, and, in that regard, kudos to Reid for banishing TO relatively early. Too early to blame the entire season on a guy who didn't even enter the locker room for the last seven weeks.
Which leaves us with McNabb's injury. He went down for the season in Week 10 of last season, but they discovered the hernia in training camp. So, logically, with his franchise QB nursing an injury, Andy Reid decided to throw the ball 70 percent of the fucking time. It didn't surprise anybody that McNabb got hurt -- it actually surprised me that he lasted that long. So Reid is as much to blame for that injury as anybody can be to blame for another person's injury.
Turns out McNabb's ability to single-handedly keep them in games had been disguising an aging defense, terrible offensive playcalling, poor clock management, and a lack of skill and/or depth at every major position.
Last season's 6-10 was Andy Reid's fault. But he blamed it on TO and McNabb's injury, and everybody gave him a free pass because he'd been such a good coach. Rightly so, I would say -- a record like his (the Eagles won something like 70 percent of their games under his tenure going into 2005) earns you a down year. Even if that record really isn't that good, because you have nothing to show for it, because you shit the bed in every big game you played.
2006 -- Which brings us to this year. The Eagles have been a decent-to-bad team all year, even with a healthy McNabb in his prime. I said this after the first real game we played this year, the choke job against the Giants. Even when they were 4-1, they weren't impressive. That 49ers game was as close as a 14-point loss can be -- only a goal-line fumble that the Birds returned for 98 yards made the difference. It took a classic Drew Bledsoe meltdown to save them against Dallas. The Packers and Redskins suck. Add that to the fact that they've now lost to two 3-7 teams -- the Bucs and the Titans -- and you've got a football team kindly described as average.
They didn't lose to the Titans because McNabb got hurt. They were well on their way to losing before that. But the moment he got hurt, it ruled out one of his classic put-the-team-on-my-back wins, where he throws three second-half TDs and somehow pulls it out despite not looking all that great, overall. Like the one he orchestrated against Tampa, before The Luckiest Moment in NFL History.
They consistently dig themselves first-half holes, especially against bad teams. They drop lots of passes. They literally have not thrown a pass (shotgun excluded) that didn't include a play-action fake in weeks. They only run the ball when the pass game has stalled. They either throw eight deep balls a game (New Orleans) or none (Tennessee). They can't tackle on defense and still can't stop the run, even after five years of this shit. They were third in the league in penalty yards even before the 64 they had today. They have the No. 1 offense in the NFL and have somehow lost half their games.
What does all of that add up to? Bad coaching. That's not all McNabb's fault. The truth is, McNabb's been saving Reid's sorry ass for his entire career. The one brilliant coaching move Reid ever made was drafting Donovan. He's a solid GM -- he drafts pretty well, first-rounders notwithstanding -- but he's a horrible, horrible coach.
And he needs to be fired. But now that McNabb's hurt, he has another excuse. And he'll be back next year, even after the Eagles go 6-10. It'll take another year of mediocrity, another year of playing down to opponents, passing 70 percent of the time even with a so-so line and handless wide receivers, and missing the playoffs. Then he might get fired.
Hopefully it won't be too late by then. McNabb turns 30 on Saturday and just suffered his third major lower-body injury. The best players on the defense are over the hill. Westbrook might need microfracture surgery to fix his chronic knee problems. This year's in the shitter. At this point, I can either hope Garcia finds some magic left in that rag arm of his and lead them to a first-round playoff loss, or I can root for them to lose out and get a higher draft slot. Next year doesn't look good -- McNabb might not be back for the first game, and Westbrook's considering offseason surgery. So, really, I have to look forward to 2008, and hope that the following things happen between now and then:
1. Reid gets fired or moved to GM. (I'm actually hoping for the latter)
2. McNabb returns to 100%.
3. Westbrook returns to 100%
4. They draft or acquire quality starters at all of the following positions:
a)Running back (power)
b)Linebacker (middle and strong-side)
5. They keep Stallworth (and he stays healthy) or acquire a big-time WR.
That would give them a real chance again in 2008. Otherwise, it's back to the perpetual mediocrity that defines Philadelphia sports in my lifetime (did I mention the Phils didn't get Soriano?).
Let's just say I'm not holding my breath. And, since nobody's making them yet, I just ordered a custom "Fire Andy Reid" t-shirt.
(By the way, does the RSS feed for this blog work for anybody else? It never works for me.)
Saturday, November 18, 2006
When it comes to pending personnel decisions, Alderson's general position is that if it isn't obvious, obfuscate. Sadly, the talkative Towers has lately learned to hold his tongue, too.
“I'm not commenting on it,” Towers told the Union-Tribune's Bill Center yesterday before departing the general managers meetings in Naples, Fla. “I'm not going to comment to anyone on our free agents. I will not ever be commenting.”
Awww, poor Timmy Sullivan; looks like you'll actually have to cultivate more than one source for future Padres columns! Depressing!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
This can't be any simpler: The dude just slapped a kid. No, ESPN, it was not a "push," or a "flip," or a fucking chin massage. And since when did we allow this goddamn bully to set the terms of how his actions are described? Fuck you, Knight. The fact that you didn't get kicked in the balls by that kid is a minor miracle, and you should thank him for not embarassing you to the degree you embarassed him. A slap! I have never been slapped by a man in my fucking life. That is unreal.
Wojo actually wrote a half-decent column about this, but at the end he still doesn't just come out and say that Knight needs to be fired. Maybe he doesn't feel that way, but I don't see how one can confront the facts of the case and not arrive at that conclusion (which is why I'm practically egging on a fight, here). Knight has made a career out of being the drunk uncle that constantly embarasses his family during Thanksgiving. It's enough, already, before he actually just punches a kid for not boxing out, or something.
BTW, fuck that kid's parents, too.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I wish I could say this stuff was cathartic, but the truth is I just fucking hate Phil Rogers so much, I wish I could sodomize him with a dirty toilet brush. And not gently, like that usually implies.
Here is the latest justification for his impending, unsanitary colonoscopy:
Gentlemen, start your checkbooks.
You’re a funny man, Phil. Heh. It’s funny, because it’s like “start your engines,” only with checkbooks instead, since owners are going to be using checkbooks to pay for free agent contracts. Heh.
There's only one problem with the gaudy numbers that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Lee traditionally put up: They are guaranteed to lead to big contracts but do not necessarily translate into victories.
Along with Alfonso Soriano, these are the biggest bats on the market, and it figures someone will pay them accordingly (Lee appears headed to the Houston Astros; Ramirez possibly to the Los Angeles Angels). But for all their thunder, Lee and Ramirez have combined for only 55 at-bats in the playoffs (and a .218 average), generally playing on also-ran teams.
Their teams were a combined 147-176 last year. Lee did not deliver when he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers at the July deadline, and Ramirez disappeared when the Chicago Cubs needed him to step up while Derrek Lee was sidelined.
One scout says the saying about lies, damn lies and statistics applies to free agency. "You can take any stat, I believe, and damn near make any point you choose with it," he said.
We’ll ignore the dangling participle in the second graph, and get right to the stupid, unfounded meat of Rogers’ argument. According to idiots like Rogers and his scout friend, who I really think is either the equally-offensive Jerry Crasnick or simply Rogers himself pantomiming Jerry Lewis in his head, individual numbers are useless unless those numbers came while a player was in the midst of a pennant race. This is dumb.
Here is what Rogers could say if he was interested in being right: Lee, Soriano, and Ramirez are all good hitters. But none of them are great hitters, because they don’t get on base enough.
Ramirez’s 2006 OBP: .352 (50 BB in 660 PA)
League average at 3B: .354
Lee’s 2006 OBP: .355 (58 BB in 695 PA)
Soriano’s 2006 OBP: .351 (67 BB in 728 PA)
League average in LF: .359 (AL was .347, for those who are curious)
So, while all will put up gaudy power numbers, on the whole they actually cost your team outs against the league average. Is that what you want to be paying north of $10 million a year for? Maybe not.
But, of course, the real problem with all three is that their teams didn’t win enough. But, I promise, if any of them had been Eckstein, the Cubs, Brewers, Rangers and Nationals would have all won the World Series at the same time.
Jeff Suppan deserves a big contract. After all, he's the poor man's Greg Maddux, making 30-plus starts eight years in a row, and he's never been compensated accordingly. He earned a total of only $9 million from the St. Louis Cardinals while going 47-29 the last three years, including three wins in the playoffs. But there's nothing special about his stuff, and he's coming off a season when his ERA jumped from 3.57 to 4.12.
Huh? Since when did making more than 30 starts become the baseline for Greg Maddux comparisons? Did Jeff fucking Suppan just get compared to a guy who is considered by some to be one of the 10 best pitchers of all-time?
Greg Maddux career ERA: 3.07
Jeff Suppan career ERA (I shit you not): 4.60
Daniel Cabrera compares more favorably to Sandy Koufax than Suppan does to Maddux. I think Phil Rogers is sleeping with Jeff Suppan.
Roger Clemens, who says he hasn't even thought about whether he wants to pitch in 2007 -- yeah, right -- took home $664,858 per start for his abbreviated season with the Astros this season, and he's not getting younger. The plan was for him to be fresh for the postseason, but Houston finished 1½ games behind St. Louis in the woeful NL Central. Houston was 9-10 in Clemens' starts, a quirky fact that belies his 2.30 ERA.
Quirky? Gilbert Arenas is quirky. That statistic is absolute proof that wins and losses are a completely meaningless statistic. Or, did Roger Clemens “just pitch well enough to lose?” Because, I swear, if you had said that, I would have switched out the toiled brush for a spiked bat.
Kip Wells, the quintessential 30-start guy when he's healthy, was shut down for foot surgery shortly after being traded from Pittsburgh to Texas last season.
This is probably my favorite part of the whole article. You know how many pitchers started 30 or more games last season? Roughly 70 (sorry, can’t find the exact stat, but this is pretty close). So, Kip Well’s claim to fame is that – when healthy! – he will be able to do something that only 70 or so other pitchers in the major leagues can do. Rogers makes no mention of whether or not you’d really want Wells starting 30 games for your team, because that would require actual qualitative analysis.
Also, because I can’t resist:
John F. Kennedy is the quintessential two-term president when his head isn’t getting blown off. Kirstie Alley is the quintessential supermodel when she’s not laying waste to a Chinese Buffet. Patrick Roy is the quintessential family man when he’s not beating his wife to within an inch of her life. Bill McCartney is the quintessential role model when his daughter isn’t sucking down chocolate like Daddy-O’s. Colorado is the quintessential intercollegiate model when its coaches aren’t implicitly endorsing rape. Loren Wade is the quintessential college running back when he’s not capping teammates. I could go on like this forever.
There’s more, but I really do need to work sometime today.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Jeremy Bessee, 32, of Phoenix said he preferred Kyl because "he's been here since 9-11."
"He's experienced with the anti-terrorism stuff," Bessee said. "It might be good sometimes to get in someone who still needs to get their feet wet, but right now we need the tried and true."Congrats, Jeremy, you are the John Kruk of the American vox populi.
Monday, November 06, 2006
There is a chance – however remote – that Dusty Baker might be considered as a possible replacement for Bruce Bochy as
After all, this is the man who twice – twice! – used the term “clogging up the basepaths” this past season when trying to explain why OBP was overrated. If you, in any way, think that having baserunners can ever be a bad thing in the sport of baseball, you should be condemned to the Mexican League. This is also the man who has managed to ruin the no-brainer careers of both Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, which is kind of like giving both the Olson twins the clap, three months apart.
The Padres, as currently comprised, are a promising team with a good mix of young guys and solid vets. They get on base fairly well, play pretty good defense, and have one of the better pitching staffs in the league. Are they better than the Mets? No. But they’re better than the Dodgers, and most years that’s good enough for me.
As far as I can tell, the Padres are pretty much a lock to win more than 89 games next year, which should be good enough to win the NL West. If Dusty Baker gets hired, I see that number changing by as much as 10 games. No, I’m not exaggerating.
Did anyone watch the Cubs play last season? I did, especially while I was in
I won’t even bother getting into Dusty’s days with the Giants … oh, fuck that, yes I will. Dusty was even worse with the Giants. Anyone remember Pedro Feliz? At one point in time, Mr. Feliz was a great prospect. Then Dusty got a hold of him, convinced him that a “hanging” slider includes those thrown in the dirt, and since then Feliz has been a constant threat to possess and OBP lower than his IQ. Dusty Baker is also the reason that Rob Nen has been forced to learn how to write with his left hand. And the explanation for Kirk Rueter holding down a starting job in the major leagues. And the impetus for 64.3 percent of all
So, don’t blame me if the thought of Jake Peavy being on one of Dusty’s “pitch counts” makes me want to drink bleach.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
• Louisville will beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game.
• Of course they won't. But I wanted to see what it felt like to be Justin, constantly saying ridiculous things.
• OK, so the Cowboys just punted after incomplete pass, incomplete pass, and short completion on third down. I lied; Dallas is not winning this game. Neither of these teams are winning this game. I think Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells should be doing commercials for stem cell research, because they both forgot how to coach football.
• I considered making an entire blog post about this subject, but I figure it's easy enough to truncate my take: It is reprehensible that Willie Tuitama is playing football this season. I've discussed this a few times with Ryan, who knows more about the situation than anyone that isn't on the team, and he's given me no reason to change my mind (since he agrees with me, he doesn't exactly make the best devil's advocate).
Concussions are still the last great unknown frontier of sports-related injuries. And I have a feeling that concrete answers as to what exactly an athlete risks when playing through or after them aren't forthcoming any time soon. Frankly, the anecdotal evidence we have suggests there is no possibility for a concrete answer. So, there's nothing to prove that Tuitama is any better off waiting until next season to play again. But just because you can't prove something beyond a shadow of a doubt doesn't necessarily mean the opposite is true. And that's why Willie should be sitting for the rest of the year.
It also bears mentioning that I don't feel this way because the season is "lost," though it doesn't hurt. I do think it bears mentioning that if coaches weren't losing their jobs right now at UA, this probably wouldn't be happening. And that's sickening.
• I have never quite seen an ending to a football game like the one I just witnessed between Dallas and Washington. Beyond the mutual ineptitude of Parcells and Gibbs, for the first time I can remember each team had an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal on consecutive downs. Of course, Washington got the second of the two, and made the kick, which makes me look like an idiot for my earlier prediction. But being an idiot is the life I chose.
I know there's more that's been on my mind lately, but I can't think of it right now. I'll update it as things occur to me.