Thursday, November 08, 2007

OK, this is the kind of shit that drives me fucking crazy

Who's Sean McAdam? Fuck if I know, except he's somehow been asked by ESPN.com, a site that employs a host of talented and knowledgeable baseball writers, to write the "Offseason Outlook" for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

I didn't even need to read the story to know that Mr. McAdam was about to bombard me with wrongness. The article was linked with the following explanation:

Devil Rays ownership does not seem ready to spend the money necessary to challenge the big-market competition in the American League East.


That would be, approximately, the moment I had a brain aneurysm and almost died. Mercifully, the Mayo Clinic had some crack neurologists on call, and they managed to repair the rupture and get me home in enough time to make sure this post was still timely. Amazing, that medical technology.

Tampa's rotation is young and gifted, anchored by Scott Kazmir and James Shields, with Andy Sonnanstine gaining valuable experience in the second half. But the Rays could use a veteran starter to set the tone -- someone like, say, Jon Lieber or Russ Ortiz.

I swear, he actually wrote that what the Devil Rays need to do this offseason is sign Russ Fucking Ortiz. I mean, has Sean McAdam ever witnessed a contest of base-ball before in his life?!?! Russ Ortiz! He wants RUSS ORTIZ to "set the tone" for a MAJOR-LEAGUE pitching staff! I DO NOT RESORT TO HYPERBOLE WHEN MAKING POINTS!

No, Sean, what the Devil Rays need to do is precisely the opposite of what you're suggesting: DO NOT SIGN SHITTY, SURE-TO-BE-OVERPAID STARTERS AS FREE AGENTS IN THIS RIDICULOUS MARKET.

In what universe does a team get better by picking up players who are worse than replacement level? It's awe-inspiring, really, how this dude could conclude this is what he wanted to include in his supposedly authoritative piece on the Devil Rays.

And, at the risk of throwing another broken record onto the player, enough with the money shit. Tampa Bay has spent the last two seasons doing everything just about as well as it could be done, stockpiling loads of cheap, young talent while not weighing the roster down with overpaid veterans in long-term deals. The Rays have, at almost every position on the field, either one of the former top-five prospects for that position in place (Upton, Young, Pena, Kazmir, Crawford, Baldelli [when healthy]), or have a top-fiver coming up (Longoria, Brignac, Price, Niemann, Dukes [if he ever makes it up again]). That is awesome, and most of those guys are going to be awesome, but everyone knew it was going to take a little bit of time for the players to come around. And now, most people think that within the next two years, the Rays are going to make a serious push for the playoffs. I promise you, if that's the case, that Jon Lieber will not be one of the reasons why, unless you consider his not being there a reason why.

I would like to think the average baseball fan is astute enough to know that McAdam is totally wrong, but I know that's not the case. In fact, the majority of the people who read that story will think, "Yeah, that's the problem ... those tightwad Rays just aren't willing to spend a buck to beat the YankSox!" Some of those people might even be residents of Tampa, who will now be even more resolute in their unwillingness to attend the games of this particularly fun, exciting team (though I'm unsure that I would be willing to sit in Tropicana Field 20+ nights per year, so I can't be too critical). They will complain on sports radio and write letters to the editor about how management "doesn't care" about the fans, and maybe the owners will decide that the front office in place — which could turn out to be a pack of geniuses when it's all said and done, for these and some other reasons — needs to be replaced by Ed Wade, Jr., who will immediately sign Rheal Cormier to a four-year, $26 million contract with a vested team option for the fifth year that kicks in if Cormier, at any point in his contract, throws a ball that a batter actually misses.

For what I know won't be the last time: There is more than one way to skin a cat. And, depending on implements available, there are ways to skin cats that are good for some people, but wouldn't work for other cat skinners. To continue with this uncomfortable analogy, the Yankees can afford the PussySkinner3000TM, which costs $150 million and is made entirely out of Howard Hughes' melted-down gold fillings. The Devil Rays, on the other hand, can only afford the Mangy-Cat UnMasker 1975, an aluminum contraption they bought for $5 at the local swap meet on which, depending on the light that day, you can still see the Pepsi logos of the recycled cans it's made out of. The PussySkinner is much faster and divesting cats of their dermis, however at that price they can only afford a limited number of cat-skinning implements, so each implement has to be so fast as to ward off the competitive efforts of the plucky/gritty/skins-cats-the-way-cats-are-supposed-to-be-skinned Devil Rays skinners, who are able to afford a multitude of Mangy-Cat UnMaskers, which allows them to compensate for the lesser performance of each individual cat skinner when held against superior cat skinning devices via a greater number of cat skinners that are easily replaceable through the Devil Rays' vast supply room full of Mangy-Cat UnMaskers. In fact, the Devil Rays buy Mangy-Cat UnMaskers in such great volume that, every so often, they'll accidentally get a PussySkinner at the same price of a Mangy-Cat UnMasker, which means they realize much better cat skinning for their cat-skinning dollar. Sure, the Devil Rays probably wish they had more PussySkinners, but after a while you begin to realize that it doesn't matter how you manage to fill a warehouse of cats sans peau, as long as you go ahead and do just that. Because, at the end of the day, you're just doing it for the love of skinless cats.

5 comments:

Pete Toms said...

My thoughts on your thoughts re the D Rays, in no particular order.

I've never been - nor likely ever will go - to The Trop but I'm in agreement with you, I suspect it's a horrible place to watch baseball. I've seen my share of indoor baseball at the Olympic Stadium and it blows. The stadium is likely the biggest long term problem this franchise has and it probably will never improve ( the stadium situation, not the team ).

The D Rays & revenue sharing. This is timely as the D Rays were recently held up as an example of the ineffectiveness of revenue sharing by some guy way smarter than me @ The Sports Economist. It was the typical anti revenue sharing argument ( and I don't disagree ) that it is a disincentive to win for everyone - small & big market. I agree to a certain extent, yes I think the D Rays are pocketing some of those $$$ but they know - as we do - that boosting their payroll by whatever - 5 to 20 million - still won't make them competitive with the Evil Empires. Maybe you could argue that they should still spend it because their fans deserve 71 wins instead of 66. I think we all assume though that if the elite young talent that they have assembled evolves as expected, they will spend that money on vets ( hopefully not Russ Ortiz, but then again how many IP did Jeff Weaver & Horacio Ramirez rack up this season? ) to make them competitive. Not mentioned by the Sports Economist is that the D Rays were big spenders in the most recent Rule IV draft and perhaps that yields a better return than signing FA's.

Pete Toms said...

Woops, forgot one thing.

The D Rays, Jays ( woe is me ) & O's are at the biggest competitive disadvantage in MLB, playing nearly 1/4 of their games against the Evil Empires. I am an embittered Jays' fan who thinks it's bullshit.

Pepe said...

The first thing this post made me remember was that time we were in Vegas looking for a baseball game to bet on and saw "Ortiz" on the board, then locked eyes (no homo) and sprinted to the book to place before the game started. Russ Ortiz sets the tone.

Speaking of tone-setting, what tone is it, exactly, that Jon Lieber sets? The inconsistency tone? The fat and injury-prone tone? The tone of not seeming to care one way or the other? He's been pitching for my favorite team for a couple of years, and he's been essentially useless.

Yet when these guys hit the free-agent market, they're valuable vets.

Pat said...

As someone who has been to about five Devil Rays games, I can attest that it is a deplorable place to see a baseball game. It's deathly quiet, and made the Fire Sale Padres' Jack Murphy Stadium of youth seem like the freaking Super Bowl.
Then again, if you follow baseball -- and especially if you follow it the way Diesel does (meaning that the juiciest prospects give him an erection) — then it's probably a great spot.
Ste, it was you and I who looked at each other at the revelation of Russ Ortiz starting that day. Dunno if you meant "we" in the royal sense, or if you meant you and Diesel, but suffice it to say I'm offended that you would confuse me wth Diesel in your mind's eye. (He's much prettier than I am).
And Ste, can we get moving on a Lidge opus? Pleeeeeease?

Diesel said...

The funny thing is that when Pepe wrote the Ortiz bit, I thought to myself, "Wow, I don't remember that." But I didn't assume that Pepe was wrong; I automatically assumed that I didn't remember because I haven't spent more than 10 sober hours in Vegas. I mean, if I ever DID see Ortiz on a board while I was in Vegas, I would strongly consider placing my entire stake on the opposition's money line.

And, Pat, while I'm flattered you think I'm prettier than you, all the boys have told me otherwise. And by boys, I mean men.