Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Mets New Walking Contradiction

The new general manager of the Mets, Sandy Alderson, was the smartest person in the room during yesterday’s press conference. He was also the one who contradicted himself the most. This is not a coincidence.

The balding 62-year-old Alderson was amiable, occasionally funny (though mostly in a cheesy sort of way), and wore a goofy yellow Mets tie. But it still seemed as if he could scare the hell out of you with a look, if he wanted. He was easy-going, yet stern. Affable, yet unyielding. Basically, Alderson felt like your dad.

And, like your dad, at times it seemed as if Alderson was talking down to everyone. But it didn’t seem as though he was doing so because he thinks we’re all stupid. Rather, he did so because he wanted to ensure his message was clear to everyone (because we are all stupid). He understood he wasn’t really speaking to the media gathered in the room — he was speaking to the fans watching on television and listening on the radio. Unlike many of his predecessors, Alderson clearly understands that the media is a means and not an end in itself. He knew that yesterday was about rebuilding the Mets brand for the fanbase, and he delivered his message accordingly.

But his intelligence was also evident in what he said, and not just how he said it. When asked about possibly moving some of the Mets core players, Alderson said this: “Just as an aside, one of the reasons that fans like baseball is because it provides a certain consistency and continuity in their lives that maybe doesn’t exist otherwise. It’s important to recognize that. There’s a bond that exists over time. But, at the same time, I think fans enjoy change. I mean, in our lives today there’s a lot of change. I don’t think we want overwhelming change, but I think fans like to know what’s new. That’s what we have to balance — that desire for continuity with that desire for the next new thing.” Click Here To Continue Reading

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Sickels on Jenrry Mejia

John Sickels of Minor League Ball posted some comments about Jenrry Mejia, and use and development this season. They’re not glowing, as you might have guessed.

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Guillen for Stanton?

Wow, the Marlins try to do some crazy stuff. Would this trade have made any sense? It’s hard enough to put a win value on players; doing so with managers is particularly tough.

Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton hit .259/.326/.507 with 22 home runs this season. Additionally he recorded 10 outfield assists, and UZR pegged him as a +7 run fielder. All of that was worth about 2.7 wins over a replacement player for 100 games — roughly 4 wins above replacement over a full season. Stanton should be under contract for at least five more seasons, meaning that if he played up to the same level, he should conservatively be worth somewhere between 20-25 wins until he hits free agency.

Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, led his White Sox to a 88-74 record this season, and a 600-535 record overall in his seven years as manager. Trying to put a win value on that is impossible. But let’s try anyway. As a strategist, Guillen over-manages — his teams bunt often, they run into a lot of outs on the base paths, and he calls for too many intentional walks. His value doesn’t come from his in-game tactics, which are probably a negative overall, but rather his demeanor and persona. And that’s what the Marlins would have needed to value correctly.

His twitter account, on the other hand, is priceless.

Essentially, Guillen would need to be worth 4-5 wins (above the next best manager the Marlins could freely hire) every season for the next five years for this deal to just break even. Would that have been possible? It sounds high to me.

Now, if the deal were Guillen for any of the other Mike Stantons in baseball, that’s another story…

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It’s That Time of Year

No, not for serious October baseball.

Well, it is that time of year. But it’s also the season for space-filling columns. Let’s see what ESPN-New York’s Ian O’Connor has to say about Sandy Alderson:

In a lot of ways, Sandy Alderson comes to the New York Mets out of central casting. A Marine, Vietnam vet, Harvard Law grad, architect of a winner, and a baseball ambassador charged to stamp out fraud and drug use in the game’s Dominican Republic pipeline.

Who would dare reject that resume? Alderson sounds more like a commissioner of a first-rate sport than a general manager of a second-rate team. In fact, maybe a quick fix of the Mets puts him in line to succeed Bud Selig.

But when he steps to the microphone as Omar Minaya’s replacement, Alderson should take the time of offer an apology. He should say he’s sorry for being an enabler at a time when baseball desperately needed a whistle-blower and a leader.

He should say he’s sorry for allowing the monstrous steroid culture to grow fangs on his watch.

That’s right, kids. Sandy Alderson might be a war hero, but he ruined baseball for America.

OK. Was Alderson the general manager of the Bash Brother Athletic teams of the late 80s? Yup. Did Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco spend a lot of time juicing up? Oh yeah. Canseco would sleep in a hyperbaric chamber full of pressurized steroid air, bench pressing in his roided sleep the entire roided time. Mark McGwire would throw twelve virgins into a blender each morning and greedily drink their HGH-rich blood as he did arm curls and listened to Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen.

And Sandy Alderson could have maybe possibly suspected as much the whole time — thus making him directly responsible.

Now let’s pretend for a minute that matters. Let’s all pretend Sandy Alderson was hanging out in the locker room, injecting his players with steroids and awkwardly patting them on their sore, just-needled butts. Hey Jose, let’s do some steroids later, dude. Come on Mark, all the cool kids are doing it. Let’s assume that Alderson did some bad, roid-y things, and then covered it up to protect his team. If you bother to read anything about him, you’ll quickly discover that wasn’t the case. But if we assume he did those things — and that they even mattered — then maybe he should make up for it.

Only, as O’Connor himself notes in his second sentence, Alderson spent the last year fighting steroid use in the Dominican Republic. He was literally the man MLB hand-picked to fight PED use among amateurs. I actually believe “rump kicking roid-destroyer extraordinaire” was his official title (or, as Google translator puts it in Spanish, “grupa patadas extraordinario roid-destructor”), though I could be mistaken. But his job was to get steroids out of baseball where they are still most prevalent.

So even if you think he did something wrong — and he didn’t — it seems Alderson did his penance already. This isn’t just a stupid knock against Alderson. It’s a wrong one.

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2010 World Series Preview for Mets Fans

Texas Rangers: Claw and Antlers


Nolan Ryan, the president of the Texas Rangers, has a Hall-of-Fame resume. Well, obviously. He’s in the Hall of Fame. Ryan won 324 games in his twenty-seven year career, struck out a 5,714 batters, and pitched seven no-hitters. The strikeouts and no-hitters are both all time records.

Yet, somehow, the enduring image of his notable career has become that of a 46-year-old Ryan (member of the 1969 Mets) attempting to beat in the face of a 26-year-old Robin Ventura (member of the 2000 Mets), as Ryan holds him in a headlock. That image has become his legacy more than anything else.

These Texas Rangers, for better or worse, are Nolan Ryan’s team. They’re aggressive. They run the bases aggressively, swing aggressively, and pitch aggressively:

  • Five Rangers stole at least fourteen bases. According to Bill James Online, the Rangers gained a total of +92 extra bases this season, the third highest number in baseball.
  • Only the Baltimore Orioles managed to see fewer pitches per plate appearance than designated bad-ball hitter Vlad Guerrero and the free-swinging Rangers. They did this mostly without the help of late additions Jeff Francoeur and Bengie Molina, making it even more impressive.
  • Texas’ pitchers hit 63 batters with pitches, just three off the major league lead.

But these Rangers are not quite school-yard bully aggressive, like the recent Phillies teams or Nolan Ryan himself. They’re not jerks. But they are a happy-go-lucky aggressive, collectively emerging from a cloud of dirt as an endearingly boyish baseball team. The Rangers are the sort of team on which everyone wears eye black. They hustle, sometimes to the point of recklessness, but it’s because they just go for it. The Rangers try to grab whatever they think they can take. And that’s fun. Click Here To Continue Reading

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Abraham on Bill Shannon

Bill Shannon, a long time official scorer for both the Yankees and Mets, passed away in a fire at his New Jersey home earlier today. I was lucky enough to hear his distinct call in person for a few games this September and October at Citi Field.

Peter Abraham wrote a remembrance piece about Shannon for the Boston Globe. It’s worth a read, if only to learn a little bit about a behind-the-scenes figure in baseball.

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Postseason Win Probablility

Baseball-Reference’s Sean Forman introduces and explains the statistic Win Probability Added for the New York Times:

For postseason play, this statistic has the advantage of naturally taking into account clutch and unclutch performance because the context of the play is ingrained in the statistic. We can even create charts detailing how the win probability changes over the course of the game.

Interesting factoid I learned from reading this: By Win Probability Added (or, in this case, subtracted), Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez had the worst postseason of all time in 1999. Ordonez hit .132 with no walks and one extra base hit in ten games. Most of the damage was done in the Robin Ventura “grand slam single” game, when Ordonez went 0-6 and hit into a bases loaded double play in the sixth. I remember Rey Rey being an awful hitter, but sometimes it’s fun to look at his numbers and really remember how awful he was.

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