Thursday, September 30, 2010

1 comments Opposite Day for Troy Aikman

Hi kids. I know I've been something of a deadbeat Dad when it comes to my participation on the blog here (but by God if Ben doesn't run one hell of a tight ship). And I have no excuse for that. Really. But in the fine spirit of deadbeat Dads before me, I come with a tacky gift - Troy Aikman's stupidity. Not content with merely serving this up to us once a week on Sunday's, Troy has popped in to say hello on Thursday, with one of the more boring articles anyone can write (hey, it is Troy Aikman); a QB top 10 list. Here 'tis.

Troy Aikman lists his top 10 NFL quarterbacks

let's call it a win for catchy titles.

Having played the position myself, I probably view quarterbacks a little differently than most people.

c'mon Chad Henne #1!

It’s not just about talent and production. A quarterback also has to be the team leader and spokesman, and he must be able to handle criticism as well as praise.

...what a radical redefinition of the position. I've never heard anyone in the media talk of this "leadership" and "poise" attributes you speak of.

Given all of the media outlets and fan forums out there now, the scrutiny of quarterbacks has never been more intense.

My list of the top 10 quarterbacks probably will generate healthy debate among fans — Why did you leave this guy off? Why is that guy ranked so low? — but I know one thing: Each of these players has the complete package, and I would start a team with any of them.

you're all winners! But seriously, are you trying to pre-emptively comfort the losers? Predict the mass hysteria your (entirely non controversial, bar one, very, very, very big glaring omission) list will generate. "I know some will call me brash, foolish, even arrogant at the preperation of this list. All I can tell those people is that writing this list was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life, and I hope you all can forgive me."

Just give me Peyton, Brady and Brees.

1. Peyton Manning, Colts. I’ve never seen any quarterback shoulder more responsibility and do more for his team. We all see what he does in games on Sunday, but what he does in practice during the week is just as impressive.

2. Tom Brady, Patriots. He recently became the highest-paid player in the NFL — and deservedly so. Three Super Bowl championships. Enough said.

3. Drew Brees, Saints. He’s the perfect guy to run Sean Payton’s offense. I don’t know if there are many players more prepared going into a game.

don't say he didn't warn you to brace yourself. How feeble are these little explanations by the way? Manning - he's responsible for the offense and prepared. Brady - he's paid a lot and won rings. Brees - he's responsible for the offense and prepared. This is the greatest waste of bandwidth since...well, that's what this blog is for isn't it? To document all that stuff.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers. He stepped in under difficult circumstances two years ago and has produced back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons. Plus, his best days are still ahead. Aaron is one cool customer who has handled everything thrown at him with ease.

very chic pick. Even the first open slot he filled predictably.

5. Philip Rivers, Chargers. He has great charisma and is a tremendous competitor. For a guy who doesn’t move that well in the pocket, he has surprising playmaking ability.

even if his team does hate him.

6. Tony Romo, Cowboys. He’s a great playmaker. People have criticized him for not showing up big in big games — and at times he has struggled — but it’s not because he doesn’t welcome the challenge. He loves competition.

let the record show that the three names above have a 4-8 postseason record between them. Remember this, it'll be important in a minute. Keen observers probably see what's coming.

7. Matt Schaub, Texans. After escaping the obscurity of playing behind Michael Vick in Atlanta, Schaub has blossomed as a starter in Houston. If he can stay healthy, his performance this season could elevate his status around the league.

Schaub has started 22 consecutive games and 41 of a possible 51 for the Texans, hardly a huge injury risk.

8. Carson Palmer, Bengals. Injury issues and distractions around the team have sometimes called attention away from the fact he is pretty special. He’s one of the most talented guys nobody talks about.

people talk about Carson Palmer all the time. His QB rating for the last three years is 83.12. He ain't the same guy Troy.

9. Matt Ryan, Falcons. With Ryan as their starter, the Falcons have had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. As long as he stays healthy, they’re going to have a lot of winning seasons — and playoff victories, too.
10. Joe Flacco, Ravens. For a guy who plays on an offense that tends to get overshadowed by its defense and big personalities, he has developed into a great leader. I like him a lot.

OK, here's why I'm here.

Ben Roethlisberger.

Just from the Wiki page.
Roethlisberger has been one of the most efficient passers in NFL history. He currently ranks 9th all-time in NFL passer rating (91.7), 5th in yards per attempt (8.01), and 9th in completion percentage (63.29%) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1500 career attempts. He has the 5th highest winning percentage (.698) as a starter in the regular season among quarterbacks with a minimum of 80 starts.

He's 7-2 in the postseason. The names above him (not including the big three) are 6-13, none has a winning playoff record. None have ever even been to a Superbowl. Three of them have had just three full seasons in the league. Troy, What. The. Fuck. I think he actually, literally just forgot because Roethlisberger's missed a few games. I'm sorry, I'm not even a Big Ben guy but come the fuck on. He's done this all behind one of the worst O-Line's in the league (at least consistantly below average) and rarely had an above average running game.

But wait, there's more.

Honorable mention: Brett Favre, Vikings. He didn’t make my top 10 only because he’s about to turn 41. We take his consecutive games streak for granted, expecting him to be there every week. Because of that, we’ve lost sight of just how punishing playing quarterback is. Favre came back last year and played at an unbelievable level. That was more impressive than anything I’d seen him do in his 20 NFL seasons.

my issue here, it may surprise you, is not with Favre's mention (notwithstanding my Roethlisberger comments above). No, it's with the "punishing" line. Playing quarterback is punishing apparently.

I call shenanigans. Shenanigans I say!

Honestly, this is the only player on the field you can touch with a feather duster only. He is the most protected player of the 22 out there, both in terms of blocking and of referees. Yeah, those running backs sure have it easy huh Troy? And what about those bum offensive lineman? Pussies. Try going out there and playing quarterback, when you have the punishing embarrassment of sitting down while players around you apologise to a referee for touching you. Punishing stuff.

Maybe wide receiver. Maybe I can give you wide receiver. But even a receiver gets tackled three or four times a game. Quarterback is the one, non special teams position on the field, where you have a possible chance of not touching anyone on the opposition for the entire game. They devote five men specifically to stop you being tackled. When a quarterback is tackled, everyone, spectators, players, broadcasters, are beside themselves with excitement. They even have a special stat to commemorate it it's so amazing. Coaches demand that quarterbacks do not run for fear of being physically imposed upon by the opposition player, something every other player goes through between four and fifty times a game. There is not a more preening position in sports, and this "consecutive games" thing is fucking ludicrous. Running backs should be applauded for this. Offensive lineman. Linebackers. Not fucking quarterbacks, and especially not, self serving Brett fucking Favre.

Now I'm done.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

6 comments Murray Chass Continues the Battle Against Numbers, Says He Can Look In the Mirror To Know How Old He Is

Dylan Murphy of "Pardon the Opinion" and I did another podcast this week. We are going to try and make this a weekly thing if all possible. We did an NFL review of sorts from this past weekend. Unfortunately, the podcast file got corrupted and could not post at all so I can't link what we said since it apparently doesn't exist anymore. It's frustrating, but those are the breaks I guess and there isn't much to be done about it.

I didn't have anything to post for today, so I will call an audible (sports-related term being used on a sports-related site. How clever!). I am going to look at a rarity today, a not-so-bad column by Steve Phillips and then Murray Chass will continue his hatred against numbers.

First, I will get to the Steve Phillips column. I don't agree with everything he writes in this column and some of the ways he justifies his picks aren't the best, but Steve Phillips names his 2010 MLB Awards and gets them fairly correct (in my opinion) based on the low standards I would normally have for a Steve Phillips award column. I'll see what you think.


This is really a two-player race: Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera is third in the league in hitting (.328), second in home runs (38) and first in RBI (126). He is a few points behind Hamilton in OPS. The fact that Cabrera has 31 intentional walks (to five for Hamilton) shows how little protection he had in the Tigers lineup.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Not really the best way to defend his choice to go with intentional walks, but I do agree with his conclusion. I think Cabrera should be the guy.

AL Cy Young:

This is probably the most hotly debated award of the season. It challenges the belief that wins are one of the most important stats in defining the quality of a pitcher's performance. Felix Hernandez is leading some important categories, ERA and innings pitched. He is second in strikeouts and WHIP and third in opponents' slugging percentage and batting average. However, King Felix only has a 12-12 record. He would have the fewest wins ever for a Cy Young Award winner.

The good news for Hernandez is that voters are more educated now than in the past.

Murray Chass spits on your idea of voters being educated. He doesn't see how knowledge should have anything to do with who wins the Cy Young award. It's educated in his opinion to ignore alternative ways of evaluating a player at the major league level.

Winner: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Steve Phillips doesn't even put CC Sabathia in his Top-5, which I am not sure I could agree with. I think that is discounting Sabathia's performance a little bit too much, but I agree with his conclusion. He had David Price second, which I also agree with him upon.


This is a three-man race: Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez. Pujols currently leads the NL in home runs, RBI and runs scored. Pretty compelling numbers. Carlos Gonzalez leads the NL in batting average; he is second in RBI and runs scored. Joey Votto is first in OBP, SLG and OPS; he is second in home runs; third in RBI and fourth in runs scored. You can make a case for any of the three but Votto's Cincinnati Reds are headed to the playoffs.

I like the conclusion, but I don't like the reasoning. Using Phillips' own reasoning for why Miguel Cabrera deserves the AL MVP over Josh Hamilton, if the Reds are headed to the playoffs couldn't that mean Pujols had a weaker lineup around him? Pujols had 38 intentional walks, while Votto only had 8 intentional walks. This was the criteria Phillips used to decide Cabrera deserved the AL MVP over Hamilton. It is possible the same reasoning could be used to say Pujols deserves the NL MVP. I still agree with the conclusion, even if I would not use which team made the playoffs as the determining factor.

The Reds' pitching staff is not great (ranked eighth in the NL) so offense is what has gotten them to the playoffs. Votto's performance is the most valuable of the three.

That's really what it is all about in the end. Which player was most valuable to his team. Votto should be the winner probably, though it is close.

NL Cy Young:

So it comes down to Wainwright and Halladay. With his outing Monday night Roy Halladay lowered his ERA from 2.53 to 2.44. Wainwright has 20 wins while Halladay now had 21. Entering Monday the numbers slightly favored Wainwright over Halladay. Halladay pitches in Citizens Bank Park, which is a notorious hitters' stadium. Wainwright pitches in Busch Stadium which plays pretty fairly. Halladay leads in innings pitched and strikeouts.

I am pretty sure Joe Morgan would agree that more wins for Halladay means he deserves to win this award, but he has been pushing Wainwright on us all year long for this award pretty hard. I think Halladay is the obvious choice.

NL Rookie of the Year:

This is another tight race. Jaime Garcia is the lone pitcher in the race but he has a very strong case for the award.

On the hitters' side of things, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey and Gaby Sanchez can all make a case for the award.

The Giants made a bold move trading veteran backstop Bengie Molina to open space for Posey to move behind the plate and get more playing time. He has made the Giants' staff look brilliant as he has shown the ability to hit, hit with some pop, handle a pitching staff and throw out base-stealers. His .317 average is further enhanced by his 16 homers and 64 RBI.

I came in to this column with Heyward as my selection but the more I look at the numbers I believe that someone else has had more of an impact because of the two-way nature of the position.

Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I agree with this award as well. Even though he was called up late, and contrary to what Joe Morgan thinks about catchers, it is hard to come up as a young catcher and handle a pitching staff. Granted, Posey has a good pitching staff to handle, but he seems to have a done a good at a difficult position. I think the voting should go Posey, Heyward, and Garcia.

Anyway, I actually did not hate Steve Phillips opinion on the 2010 awards, which shocked me. Now onto Murray Chass. He is writing words in his non-blog again and this time he talks about Walk Jocketty's new team, the Reds, making the playoffs. Score one for people who hate statistics.

Walt Jocketty has too much class, is too much of a gentleman to thumb his nose, stick out his tongue and say to the St. Louis Cardinals and their principal owner, Bill DeWitt Jr., “na na na na na.” So I’ll do it for him: Na na na na na.

(Bengoodfella rolls on the floor laughing) Do another one! A good baseball column on a non-blog ALWAYS starts off with a good "na na na na" joke.

Dewitt deserves this rude treatment because three years ago, only a year after his Jocketty-built team won the World Series, he fired Jocketty. Now Jocketty’s new team, Cincinnati, is on the brink of dethroning the Cardinals as National League Central champions.

I am sure someone somewhere thinks this is the very definition of ironic.

I don't know if Walt Jocketty should have been fired from the Cardinals or not, but he was fired because of divisions in the front office, not based on his performance. Also, the Cardinals have had success since he left, so it is not like he was solely responsible for their overall success as a team.

The Cardinals had come off a 78-84 season in 2007 when Jocketty was fired and they made the playoffs last year in 2009. It's not like they gone in the toilet since Jocketty left.

DeWitt did not return a telephone call to discuss his decision to fire Jocketty, who said “not really” when I asked him if he understood why he was fired.

This comment is contrary to most people who get fired and understand completely why they were fired. I would say 99% of the time when a person is fired, even after being told the reason, they still don't completely understand. So Jocketty's lack of understanding for his firing doesn't mean it was the wrong decision at the time. Not only that, but you can't really ever trust either side's reasoning for why a person was fired because generally both sides see the situation completely differently from each other.

I can't believe I am semi-defending the Cardinals owner for firing a good GM, but I sort of am...I guess.

“It was philosophy, the direction they wanted to take the organization, how they put their team together,” Jocketty said. “I didn’t necessarily go along with the thinking. We had a pretty good organization in place. I was given the right to run the organization the way I thought it should be, and I think people would say we had done the right job in scouting and player development and had the right people, quality people, to run it.”

That was Jocketty's reasoning and here is why the Cardinals say he was fired from the team...

Jocketty took umbrage at the 2006 promotion of Jeff Luhnow, who had been head of amateur scouting, to a position that oversees both scouting and player development. The move came at the expense of Bruce Manno, one of Jocketty's closest aides.

"He clearly didn't agree with the decision," DeWitt said. "I think he said that publicly. I think that my view is that one person should run both: procurement, development and international. Three things, but international is really procurement. And he felt it should be split."

Murray is going to chalk this up to a win for the anti-statistics crowd when it was really an issue about how the front office should be split up and Jocketty didn't like his buddy got his position taken away.

There was also another reason the Cardinals left Jocketty go:

Though Jocketty had another year left on his contract, there were several media reports throughout the season that had the GM's name linked to possible job openings in other cities.

DeWitt said he spoke to Jocketty about those reports.

"We would have conversations about it," DeWitt said. "This was as early as mid-season, I guess, and he said he didn't know where the rumors were coming from and I certainly didn't know where they were coming from. We were focusing on the season, but I could sense he wasn't all that happy with the overall situation and some of the direction of the organization."

Naturally because Murray is a professional journalist he leaves this little tidbit of information out of the discussion as well. The Cardinals were all-but-sure that Jocketty would leave them for another team. This may have had something to do with his firing as well. Jocketty doesn't seem like such the noble hero forsaken by those who once loved him if it turns out he was seeking jobs elsewhere does he? It turns out just three months after he was fired Jocketty did get a new job with the Reds. Three months after that, he was the Reds General Manager. Maybe Jocketty wasn't actively seeking new employment, but where there are rumors there is also a grain of truth. Jocketty probably would have gone to another team at some point.

So with there being front office animosity and the feeling their GM was going somewhere else, Jocketty got fired. Maybe not the most popular or smartest move, but possibly also the pulling off of the Band-Aid in a situation where Jocketty would have left very soon regardless.

Jocketty was probably the most notable victim of the modern-day baseball war between evaluation and analysis. It mattered not to DeWitt that Jocketty’s belief in player evaluation had worked extremely well for the Cardinals. The owner was seduced by others in the organization into believing that statistical analysis was the way to go.

(Picturing basement-dwelling statistics lovers luring Bill Dewitt into the basement with promises of more profits and more championships, but at the very expense of his soul)

I don't know the inside situation, but it seems like there was more than just a disagreement over the importance of statistics in this situation. There seems to be other issues that caused the Jocketty-Cardinals divorce that Murray doesn't feel the need to address.

That was the method created by Bill James and was featured in the Michael Lewis book “Moneyball,” which ridiculed one Oakland scout not for his inability to judge players but for the fact that he was fat.

Fat people were mocked? Statistics-lovers have gone over the edge of sanity now!

However, John Schuerholz, architect of the Atlanta Braves’ unparalleled 14-year run in first place, criticized the “Moneyball” concept in his 2006 book, “Built to Win.”

Hmmm...not exactly. I've read the book. He did criticize statistics-based analysis, but in the realm of making it the sole way to evaluate a player, which doesn't happen.

“As portrayed in that book,” Schuerholz wrote, “it is a bogus concept because I know you can’t make baseball judgments entirely on statistical analysis to build a team.”

Notice the key parts of these sentences, "as portrayed in the book" meaning it is portrayed in real life differently, and "you can't make baseball judgments entirely on statistical analysis" with the key word being "entirely."

No one is saying to build an entire team around statistical analysis. I am not sure anyone has ever said that or that was the intent of the book. Schuerholz didn't seem to condemn statistical-based analysis, but just say it is limited in its scope, which is true, just like ignoring statistics completely limits the scope of analyzing a player. As far as Schuerholz goes, he did a great job as the Braves GM...but I'm also not going to go year-by-year with some of the trades made by Schuerholz towards the end of his time as Braves GM, but let's just say at one point Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi were playing RF and LF respectively (as starters) and it was not 2000, but was 2005.

“He called me the day after I was fired,” Jocketty said in a telephone interview last Friday evening, when the Reds’ division-clinching number was three. “I wasn’t ready to go to work yet. I went there in the middle of January.”

I am sure there is a 100% chance that Jocketty had never talked about working for the Reds before he was fired. I am also lying about this.

Easier said than done, but Jocketty has done it quickly. A critical factor in his effort has been the addition of three men who worked for him in St. Louis – Jerry Walker, Cam Bonifay and Mike Squires. These scouts and scouting executives know how to use calculators and computers, but more important, they use their eyes and can evaluate what they see.

This is the most irritating thing in the world. Those who use statistics-based analysis do this as well! No person is sitting in an office and avoiding sunlight while recommending a team sign a player based completely on the numbers he sees on paper. Nearly every scout or executive worth a shit uses statistical analysis and their own eyes to judge a player. Any suggestion to the opposite is a lie.

Has Jocketty made any changes in his method of operation since becoming the Reds’ general manager? “No, not really,” he said but acknowledged that “you have to use a certain amount of statistics.”

Lately, Murray Chass has been the master of making a point and then disproving his own point in a column on in his non-blog.

While the Washington Nationals kept their pitching prodigy, Stephen Strasburg, in the minors for the first two months of the season because, they said, he had had no professional experience, the Reds put Mike Leake in their starting rotation from the start of the season despite his lack of professional experience.

Where is Mike Leake now? He is not really able to pitch the rest of the season because of arm fatigue. He's essentially in the same position as Stephen Strasburg, except the Nationals will be able to keep Strasburg a year longer than the Reds could keep Leake.

The right-handed rookie responded with an 8-4 record in 22 starts before he was shut down Aug. 24. By then Jocketty had promoted another rookie pitcher, Travis Wood, who has a 5-4 record in 15 starts.

It's really simple to start a rookie all year and then shut him down when you have another quality rookie pitcher in the minors. That's a nice luxury to have. If the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg, they would be stuck starting one of the shitty pitchers they currently have in their rotation. They don't have as many options in the minors as the Reds have, so it would not be as easy for them to start Strasburg all year and then replace him with another quality pitcher.

But Jocketty saved his pitching piece de resistance for last, summoning Aroldis Chapman Aug. 31. Earlier in the year Chapman, a Cuban defector, was a highly sought left-handed pitcher, the kind that usually costs a lot of money and the Reds shy away from.

But Jocketty liked what he heard from his scouts and convinced Castellini he was worth the $30.25 million the Reds gave him.

What? You mean Walt Jocketty didn't watch Chapman pitch with his own two eyes and get a feel for how he pitches without looking at statistics? I thought that is exactly what Jocketty stands for in the mind Murray Chass? Scouting without relying on others or statistics, but seeing a pitcher and just knowing he will be a good player.

Jocketty said, “We tried to tell the players in spring training we thought we had a team that had an opportunity to win but it was up to them to carry it through. I told them I thought we had a team that would be in contention and would be for some years to come.”

Jocketty has done a good job in Cincinnati. Granted, he isn't responsible for getting many of the current players on the team, but he is a quality GM. What I am trying to say is that Jocketty's departure from the Cardinals wasn't just about statistics, but was about Jocketty looking for other jobs and not liking how the owner split up duties in the front office. Murray Chass chalks it up incorrectly to a victory of the statistics-lovers of the world.

Bill DeWitt has to wonder if the Cardinals will be there with them.

Obviously the Cardinals will never be a successful MLB team again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

9 comments Joe Morgan: Nudist or Misunderstood Genius Executive?

Joe Morgan decided last week that it was crucial to reverse his mid-July comments about how catchers don't do much but throw down fingers to give a pitcher a suggestion on what pitch to throw. After reversing his comments, he decided the catcher was the most important part of the infield and is responsible for knowing what is going on in the field of play at all times...or something like that. Joe also decided the offensively-led Phillies team just happens to also have the best three-man rotation in the National League, though he said the Reds were a close sixth place in this race (okay, he really said they were a close second, but I wanted to be more accurate).

There isn't as much evidence of Joe contradicting himself this week, but there is a good amount of Joebait and the question of whether Joe will make solid predictions on which teams will make the playoffs and win the World Series? Will Joe give up and finally admit he hasn't watched a baseball game that he wasn't broadcasting since Whitey Herzog's 1987 Cardinals team showed everyone what true grit and not clogging up the bases was about? It's really too early to tell.

Buzzmaster: We've got Joe!

I really hope Joe Morgan isn't chatting naked today. That story is probably the most frightening thing I have heard or will ever hear in my life. (During the post, a little skit took place about Joe Morgan acting crazy and this now causes everyone to think if I ever do a fake conversation or voice ever again that I am copying FJMorgan even more than I already may subconsciously be.)

The only thing more frightening than that story is if naked pictures of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller appeared somewhere on the Internet "Santonio Holmes-style." (and no, I am not linking that picture of Holmes)

I think we better move on. It was interesting enough to me to learn if you do an internet search for "Joe Chat" it is a gay men's chat site...not that there is anything wrong with that, I just didn't expect to do a search for Joe Chat and end up with the top hit being a gay men's chat site. Ok, I think it is better if we move on even more now.

JM: Things to look for this week:

How will healthcare reform affect the majority of the United States population, the homeless problem in there a temporary fix, how much of the stimulus money is being misused, and is there a solution ever to be found in Afghanistan before the United States begins pulling troops out?

I am just kidding of course. Joe tells us to look for "things" and then lists one thing to look for.

I'm looking forward to the rematch between CC Sabathia and David Price.

Are they wrestling each or having a steel cage MMA fight or something? If they are wrestling, Mr. David Price you are fucked. CC Sabathia weighs at least 300 pounds. There are sumo wrestlers who wouldn't get in the ring with him due to his unnatural quickness and ability to pop his shoulder out of socket on demand. Consider yourself warned Price!

An important thing to note is that the best pitcher in the American League all year got hit hard by the Rays, while David Price got out of tough jams when he needed to. It's only one game, but I am sure Joe still won't even consider Price or Felix Hernandez in the Cy Young race for the American League.

I watched it the last time in Tampa Bay and it was great to watch.

Joe, you do know wrestling is fake right? Joe?

(Joe begins chatting via Skype while naked)

Even though I still prefer to watch hitting, that was a great exhibition from the two of them.

Joe, it wasn't an exhibition. It was real dammit. It counted in the standings and everything...and Sabathia clearly lost the matchup.

Julius (Atlanta, GA)

I believe the Braves are out of the Division chase, but can they hold on to the wildcard?

If the season started today, the Braves would have the same record as the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are playing terribly.

JM: They're not out of the chase yet. They have two more games against Philadelphia. They play Philly five more times. I would say they're not out of it yet.

In Joe's defense, the Braves had not choked away the two other games when he did this chat, so he couldn't have predicted they really were out of it. Of course Joe Morgan wouldn't have predicted this anyway since he refuses to try and predict or guess the results of any divisional or wild card race until the season is over. At that point, he feels free to predict. So in defense of Joe Morgan he couldn't have known the Braves would get swept, but not in defense of Joe Morgan he wouldn't have tried to predict this either.

Jason Thomas (Pittsburgh,PA)

With a total of 98 losses so far on the year...what are the chances of the Pittsburgh Pirates avoiding a 100 losing season?

JM: I guess the question would be, is that something new?

A 100-loss season for the Pirates would be something new. The Pirates, as bad they have been, have only had six 100-loss seasons since 1882. Don't get me wrong, the Pirates have come close a lot recently, but the last 100-loss season they had was 2001. So as bad as they have been, they do seem to be getting worse and a 100-loss season is something new. That's a little bad news for Pirates fans out there.

I remember reading that they've had 18 consecutive losing seasons.

I remember reading something about there was a new President elected recently too...a man named Bill Clinton? And what's this about Alaska is now a state? I read something about that. Is that true?

Joe Morgan gets paid to broadcast baseball games. How should ESPN feel that Joe Morgan needs to read that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been terrible for 18 years and he can't just know this. Doesn't everyone just know this?

You can't just give them a pass because they say they're a small market. A lot of teams say they're a small market but they make mistakes on personnel and that's what hurts them just as much as being a small market.

Being small market does hurt them Pirates because they have less room for mistakes on personnel. These two issues go hand-in-hand. If I run Joe's Super Duper Discount Discount Super Store and I buy 1,000 pounds of crab meat to sell to my customers and I only sell 500 pounds, I am probably going to lose money on this. While if I am Wal-Mart and I only sell 500 pounds, I can absorb the cost of the crabs and make the money up somewhere else because I have enough income and more money to spend on other products to make up for the loss.

So the Pirates have made mistakes on personnel but they don't seem willing to pay the money or have the money nor the leadership in the front office to bounce back to ensure any bad moves don't sink the franchise...for 18 straight years.

Howard (New York, NY)

Hi Joe! Are you satisfied with the progress that has been made since you alerted the commissioners office to the lack of African-American managers in major league baseball? I know progress has beenmade but it's still hard for good baseball men like Cito gaston and Willie Randolph to find jobs.

This is a good JoeBait question in that it references a chat where Joe seemed to take credit for Major League Baseball focusing on hiring more minority managers. Joe may have had something to do with it, but he did not strut into Bud Selig's office, request more minority managers get hired, and then immediately have it get done.

This is a bad JoeBait question, at least for me, because I am not going to argue against more qualified minorities getting a shot at managerial jobs. Unless it involves Dusty Baker.

JM: But I will say that I think the commissioner did make an effort to help minorities, not just in managerial jobs, but other high quality jobs in baseball. Now, you're question was am I satisified. I don't think you're ever satisfied.

"I," "you," or "we," it's all the same to Joe. First person, second person, or third doesn't matter Joe will change points of view mid-paragraph. He's very inconsistent in that way.

But I'm an optimist. I think everything should be equal.


There will be a lot of teams that will be looking for managers this offseason, but I've only seen maybe two or three African-American names mentioned.

Normally, someone who wants more minority managers to be interviewed would rattle off an entire list of minorities who should be in the running for managerial jobs, but this is Joe Morgan. He wants to take a stand, yet not do the research to find out what qualified minority managers are getting screwed over. It's like him protesting on the streets the lack of minority managerial hirings...except not actually being on the streets, but being in his office on Skype (what's my deal with Skype today?) complaining to a friend of his about the issue. Joe doesn't like how minority managers don't get a shot for front office or managerial jobs in the majors, and he may have a point, but he doesn't help the cause by not listing qualified minority candidates who haven't gotten interviewed and should have.

It helps your side of the issue to list minorities who have been hurt by a lack of an interview or passed over for managerial jobs.

Don Mattingly was with Joe Torre and he just assumes the manager.

Fine, this is a valid point. Who should get the job then? Joe? Joe?

Terry Pendleton has been with Bobby Cox for years, but he is not assuming the job when Cox leaves.

This is not a valid point for two reasons. No one knows who is assuming the job when Cox retires and the leading candidate to replace Bobby Cox is Fredi Gonzalez, who you can tell from his name is not American. He was born in Cuba. Of course when Joe is talking about "minority managers" he isn't talking about "minority managers" but "African-American managers." He doesn't give a shit about Fredi Gonzalez and the fact he may get the Braves job because he is just a "Mexican."

(Ok, Joe did not say Gonzalez was Mexican, but you know he probably would guess Mexico if asked where Gonzalez was from)

So a minority is the leading candidate for the Braves job and Joe ignores this because it isn't the minority candidate of Joe's choosing. It brings to mind my question of whether Joe really cares about minority hiring in baseball or does he just wants to bully teams into hiring the specific minority he thinks should be hired? I would doubt the second part is true because Joe can't seem to name a single minority managerial candidate? As I have always said, any team in any sport that doesn't hire a qualified person because of race isn't a team that will succeed in the long-run. So not hiring managers or making an effort to find minority managerial/front office talent is stupid, but solutions are what Joe should provide if he is really concerned on this issue. The solution in this case is telling us exactly what minorities should get interviews. It shows engagement with the issue.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Hi Joe, what do you think of the Dodgers naming Mattingly as their manager for next year? This is two times in a row where they have not interviewed a minority candidate.

JM: First of all, let's make it very clear, I do not have a problem with Don Mattingly.

Yes you do!

(Bengoodfella calls Don Mattingly) "Joe Morgan has a problem with you."

(Don Mattingly) "Fortunately, I don't pay attention to my critics who say I am not qualified to be the manager of the Los Angeles Dingoes. By the way, who the fuck are you and how did you get my phone number?"

(Bengoodfella) "Ummmm...this is Frank McCourt. I'm winning my divorce battle and I plan on owning the team next year."

(Don Mattingly) "Hey Frank, women can be a pain can't they? I had a question for you. Who do you think we are planning on going out and getting to be the DH next year? I was thinking of maybe getting a LH/RH platoon going to DH, but wanted to run it by you. I hear Bill Plaschke wants to trade Broxton and Loney for a power-hitting bat. Where are we going to find another starter to replace Broxton?"

(Bengoodfella) "Don, the Dodgers are in the National League where there is no DH. Shouldn't you know that? Also, Broxton is a closer, not a starter."

(Don Mattingly) "Hell yeah, Broxton better stay closer and not get traded far away. Anyway, I was kidding. I was just checking to see if you knew the National League did not use the DH, of course I knew it. Is there any trade market for Shawn Kemp? I'm thinking we could package he and Franklin Stubbs together to get a veteran bat for the lineup."

(Bengoodfella) "You mean Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier?"

(Don Mattingly) "No, Shawn Kemp. Guy used to play basketball but now plays baseball and Franklin Stubbs, the black guy who plays first base. I can't wait to manage this team next year."

(Bengoodfella speechless just hangs up the phone)

I do believe that they should follow the commissioner's rule that they need to interview minority candidates beforehand. There have been a couple of times where minorities have been interviewed because of the rule and they have gotten the job.

Again, what are the names of these candidates that should be interviewed? It would really help the argument Joe has.

I think we should look at all of the other situations where this is happening, not just the Dodgers. The one where they get around it is they name someone an interim manager and then at the end of the season, they name him the manager. Therefore they don't interview the minorities.

Where else has this happened?

Baltimore with Joe's SBFF (super best friend forever) Buck Showalter? Hasn't Joe gone on and on in his chats about what a great manager Showalter is? Does Joe really believe, if he believes Showalter is a great manager, a minority candidate should have gotten a token interview? What's the point of a token interview? Sure, maybe it gets the potential-manager's name out there, but I am not sure if talking in his chats about how great Showalter is as a manager and then saying the Orioles should have interviewed a minority candidate makes a ton of sense.

Florida did not interview a minority candidate, when Gonzalez was replaced by Edwin Rodriguez. He's from Puerto Rico and therefore considered a minority.

There were other teams that replaced their manager mid-season and did not interview a minority. That's true and probably not right. Which minority should have gotten an interview though? That's all I care to know.

Joe (NYC)

Hi Joe! Who's your pick for the NL Wild Card and Who's your pick out west?

JM: The wild card is another story. It changes from day to day. Colorado, San Diego, the Braves.

Joe picked the Giants to win the NL West and then he predicted one of the three teams not mathematically eliminated from winning the wild card would end up winning the wild card. Classic Joe Morgan attempting to give as little information as possible.

Zack (CT)

A week or so ago we have journalists writing articles about how the Red Sox can catch the Yankees and the Yankees have no pitching. - Will we see the same articles this week with the Rays now in 2nd place and Garza/Shields/Niemann struggling for the last month??

JM: Well, the Yankees are the Yankees and they find a way to win. Well, the Yankees are the Yankees and they find a way to win.

I'm glad Joe answered a question about the Red Sox and the Rays with comments about the Yankees. They "find a way to win." That's some good old-school analysis there. No real statistical data or anything like that, but just a gut feeling.

Lackey and Beckett are the highest paid and neither one has pitched well. I also don't know why Boston didn't go out and acquire more talent when some of their talent went down with injuries.

Because the fiscally responsible thing to do when you have highly paid pitchers who aren't performing well is to trade prospects for more pitchers to put in your pitching staff. The Red Sox should have traded prospects, increased payroll and then bloated their pitching staff or lineup so they could have a chance at winning this year.

"Who gives a shit if Dustin Pedroia will be back next year, let's go get Rickie Weeks."

"Jacoby Ellsbury is out for a while. Let's go trade some prospects for David DeJesus and watch him sit the bench if Ellsbury comes back, while blocking any prospects the Red Sox care to develop who are cheaper and may have a higher ceiling than DeJesus."

Remember, Joe Morgan is an executive with the Reds. I am assuming they don't run personnel moves past him. I know the Red Sox had a ton of injuries this year, but at a certain point it doesn't make sense to trade prospects for players with little regard for what the team will look like the next year. What did Joe expect the Red Sox to do? Trade away young talent and increase payroll because injuries hit hard? That's why they have backups. Teams can't just go get other players any time there is an injury.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Were you happy to see Joe Torre finally return to Yankee Stadium yesterday?

JM: Yes I was. I did the final game in the old Yankee Stadium and I said on the air that the only thing that would make this a better night would be a Joe Torre appearance or reference.

Would calling it, "The Last Night in Yankee Stadium Sponsored by Joe Torre" have worked?

Tito (Brooklyn)

Have you ever seen anything like Tulowitzki's streak of 14 homers in 15 games? It's incredible, especially from a SS.

JM: No, I've never seen anything like it. It had to be pretty special for him. I've had one-tenth of that kind of streak and was happy.

Joe has apparently hit 1.4 home runs in 1.5 games before. You may ask yourself how a player could hit 1.4 home runs in 1.5 games. Well, the Big Red Machine could do it. They were so unselfish sometimes Pete Rose would hit a home run and then threaten the official scorer until he credited it to Tony Perez.

The 1.4 home runs Joe hit over a span of 1.5 games was actually one home run hit by Joe and another home run hit by Cesar Geronimo, but because Pete Rose and Joe Morgan were on-base the pitcher was distracted by Rose rolling dice at second base and Joe Morgan walking around naked at first base and he gave up a home run to Geronimo. Rose and Morgan decided that in the clubhouse Morgan would get 4/10 of a home run, Rose would get 4/10 of a home run and Geronimo would get 2/10 of a home run because he probably didn't speak English and wouldn't know the difference anyway.

Tito (Brooklyn)

Joe do you think that the abundance of information and statistics out there can have a detrimental effect on a player's concetration? If so, is this bad for the game?

When the term "JoeBait" was created, it was created for questions just like this one.

JM: Sometimes you can have too much information when you step into the batter's box. You've seen information that this guy likes to throw a fastball 2-1, but he will occasionally throw a changeup. So you're mind automatically goes to that pitch.

Which pitch does your mind go to? A batter has narrowed the pitch down to two pitches he may throw, that doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. The opposing way of looking at this is going in the batter's box and having no clue what the guy likes to throw in a 2-1 count and having to look for a slider, changeup, fastball or any of the other pitches the pitcher likes to throw. Naturally, and not from a statistical point of view, it is better to limit your choices in guessing what a pitcher would throw.

Joe disagrees.

But it's never 100% that he throws that pitch. If he throws something else, you're in trouble.

But a batter is perfectly fine walking into the batter's box on a 2-1 count with no clue what the pitcher may throw. At least if a guy knows the pitcher likes to throw a fastball or changeup he can look for those pitches and adjust if the pitch is something else. With no knowledge of what the pitcher may throw, a batter could think there is no way a pitcher throws a changeup in that count and finds himself looking like Jeff Francoeur and dribbling a ball back to the pitcher.

When you see hitters take a pitch right down the middle with two strikes, you know something was wrong.

Yeah, the batter got fooled. A batter can still get fooled with a clear head that isn't thinking of one pitch a pitcher might throw at that point. A batter has to have some idea before the pitch comes of what the next pitch could be and no matter if he is zero information or complete information a good pitch can fool him.

Jeff (Indianapolis)

Joe, what do you think the manager landscape will look like by this coming spring?

JM: We'll definitely see a lot of action over the winter, because there will be a lot of vacancies. I believe that you'll see more first time managers given opportunities, because I don't think ownership wants to pay a lot of the high salaries of the veteran managers.

So the formula consisting of a lot of vacancies and more first-time managers has to be good for minority hiring, no?

Also, I am not sure what the deal is with Joe assuming the ownership of every MLB team doesn't want to pay a lot in salary for a manager.

If you look around, some of the more successful managers are not the high priced managers. Bud Black. Joe Maddon. They've done a good job, but aren't the high profile managers.

They are also newer managers. Just wait ten years from now when these two guys have more of a track record and then they will be the higher priced managers on the market. Joe must not understand newer managers can't demand a huge starting salary. The more successful Black and Maddon are, the more their salary will be increased.

Cosmo (Anytown, USA)

Joe, anything scarier than the trio of Hamels, Halladay, Oswalt come playoff time? Do you think the Phils are the World Series favorite with those three aces lined up?

Cosmo must be following up on Joe's comment last week that the Phillies have the best three-man rotation in the National League, barely beating out the Reds (in Joe's opinion) for this honor.

JM: I can't think of anything off-hand.

Joe can't think of any staff scarier than the Phillies three-man rotation. I can. Joe Morgan as the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

But remember this, the best teams will be in the playoffs. A lot of times, they will be facing good pitching on the other side as well.

Joe can think of a staff scarier than the Phillies three-man rotation.

It won't be automatic that those guys will win their starts in the playoffs.

No one said it would be. The question was if there was anything scarier than Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in the playoffs and you answered no, then immediately began babbling in an effort to undermine your own answer.

One mistake in the field and anything can happen.

I think Joe just threatened to run on the field in Philadelphia and try to injure one of the Phillies players (but not Ryan Howard) if the Phillies and Reds end up playing each other. That's how I read this comment at least.

Paco (Queens)

Do you think the Twins past losing performances in the playoffs against the Yankees could have any bearing on this year's playoffs if those 2 team runs into each other in October?

JM: I don't think the past will have as much of a bearing on it as much as the fact I think that the Yankees are a little better at playoff baseball.

Let's see from last week's chat how much of a bearing on the past playoff performances against each other Joe thought a Twins-Yankees series would have. This is when he was asked if he were the Twins, would he rather face the Rays or the Yankees:

If I was the Twins, I would root to matchup against Tampa Bay. The Yankees have beaten the Twins just about every time they've faced off in the playoffs in recent years.

It sounds like Joe is basing his reasoning entirely on the past times the Twins and Yankees faced each other. In this week's chat, he bases it on the Yankees performance in playoff baseball.

The Twins are a very good team over the course of a season. They don't make a lot of mistakes. But in the playoffs, you won't see the Yankees make a lot of mistakes and they're a veteran team.

So neither team makes mistakes, but it is the veteran leadership of the Yankees that will help them win the series? This sounds like as close to analysis we will get from Joe, even though it is analysis based on intangibles, I will accept it, but I have set the bar really, really low.

I'm looking forward to the last couple of weeks of the season. Thanks for chatting.

No, thank you for making me feel smart.

Monday, September 27, 2010

8 comments MMQB Review: Redemption Song Edition

Every week Peter King writes his MMQB and surprises me with something not-so-genius he says or annoys me with an entire conversation he has with a player that he has to relate. Fortunately, he doesn't relay any conversations for the current week's MMQB. This week redemption is the name of the game for Peter and naturally he is talking about Mike Vick. Because in Peter King's warped mind, abusing and murdering animals can be atoned for with excellent football play. Did you accidentally run over a pedestrian? Redemption comes with a good season at wide receiver. Did you try to sexually assault a woman in a bathroom? Just outperform the backup or keep the momentum the backup quarterback has started and all is forgiven. Let's get ready to feel good.

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Vick is not going away. In fact, he's getting better.

That's interesting because some of the things Ron Mexico gave people aren't going away either. They are only getting worse.

Yes, he is currently doing great at playing quarterback for the Eagles. He beat the Jaguars. I'm afraid I still require more proof that he is a different Mike Vick. I will have no problem giving Vick credit if he looks great after playing the Redskins and Falcons, but I have seen him do this in the past, only to look bad a couple weeks later. I don't doubt his talent.

NEW YORK -- Braylon Edwards shaves (thank God), calls Roger Goodell to apologize for being an idiot, sits a quarter and makes a big play to help the Jets beat Miami.

I am sure Braylon Edwards learned his lesson.

"Don't drive and drive kids or else you may miss 1/4 of a football game and then still have a chance to be praised as the hero for the game by Peter King."

There is no way the Jets were sitting Edwards longer than they did anyway.

PITTSBURGH -- The quarterback America's rooting for, Charlie Batch, gets his biggest win in years.

I'm not cheering for Charlie Batch. I don't care about Charlie Batch. Let me tell you a secret Peter (leans into Peter's ear and whispers)...I don't give a shit nor do I openly cheer for any quarterback that doesn't play for my favorite NFL team.

Good for Charlie Batch, but I have my own quarterback to cheer for. I'm not going to cheer for Batch simply because he has never been a good quarterback and now he won a game as he got older.

How much longer will we ask if Vick is fool's gold? He's responded to every challenge, favorably, so far as the most surprising story of the season. After Sunday's 28-3 rout of the Jags in Jacksonville, this is his 2010 resume:

Was there ever any doubt NFL sportswriters would forget all about the constant condemnation of Vick by...them...and jump on the "Vick is back" bandwagon? Nothing is easier to write for a lazy sportswriter than a redemption story. Well, maybe a fluff piece, but redemption stories are a close second.

He entered the first game of the season, against Green Bay, when Kolb suffered a concussion, and in the two-and-a-half games since, has led the offense to 80 points, accounting for seven touchdowns and 920 passing and rushing yards. He's thrown no interceptions, and has a 110.2 quarterback rating. He's never had a rating higher than 81 in his career.

The fact Vick has never had a rating higher than 81 in his career, the fact he is older and slightly less mobile now than he used to be, the fact he is playing for a new contract...none of these little items are tip offs that maybe Vick won't do this for the rest of the season or next season? He's having a contract year! Plain and simple. Good for him.

There's a group of people (I hear from them every time I write about Vick) who won't be happy if Vick succeeds, because of his dogfighting history. But the fact is he did his time and has tried to redeem himself by doing and saying all the right things in the 14 months since the Eagles signed him.

This is in the past and irrelevant really. Peter is writing about Vick and calling him a redemption story. He is not redeemed from his crimes simply because he is good at football. That's all I am saying. Peter is mixing up issues. Some people hate Vick no matter what and others are like me in that they don't really care about Vick or how what he does on the football field relates to his actions off the field. He isn't redeemed because he plays football well. He is redeemed because of his actions off the field and it has nothing to do with whether he is a practice squad member or a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Atlanta, up 24-21, had a fourth-and-six at the Saints' 37 with 3:36 left in the fourth quarter, with the potent New Orleans offense on the sidelines waiting to strike. Instead of punting, Smith chose to go for it. And in the NBC viewing room, the Football Night in America fellows were surprised.

Fortune favors the bold! Verily, the Falcons went on to win the game! When this happened I wrote "Game Over" in the notebook I carry around that has pictures of high school cheerleaders on the cover.

There is a 123% chance this fourth down conversion ends up in Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ.

Logic said you pin the Saints back, or try to, with a lead late in the game. Smith chose to gamble, thinking the Falcons had a winnable play called to tight end Tony Gonzalez. "My thought process was we had a matchup we liked, and if our punt went into the end zone, it would be a net of only 17 yards,'' Smith said. "The ball got tipped at the line of scrimmage. No regrets, though. None at all.''

Because he went for it, the Falcons players became more inspired because their coach was trying to win and then it became a formality that the Falcons would win the game...all because they went for it on fourth down. Well, that and because Garrett Hartley missed a chip shot field goal, but he was probably intimidated by the Falcons will to win by going for it on fourth down.

We've seen in the Vick and Roethlisberger cases that the public may one day forgive after a scandalous offense, though the process is slow.

It seems that Peter is indicating the public has forgiven Ben Roethlisberger for his offense (that was never charged) and he thinks this process is slow. Roethlisberger got into trouble for his offense a little bit over 7 months ago. If Peter thinks he is forgiven already, then the process is not slow at all. He would be forgiven by the public before he even took another NFL snap.

One of the most philanthropic players in the league, Batch runs a summer basketball league for the kids in the hardscrabble, gang-ridden area of town where he grew up, trying to keep kids from meeting the same fate his sister met in 1997 -- when she was murdered as an innocent bystander in the crossfire between rival gangs.

Oh, I guess that is why I am supposed to feel good for Charlie Batch. The fact he has played well on the football field completely makes up for the death of his sister or at least makes him feel a little bit better about her death? I can feel good for Charlie Batch that he is such a charitable and nice person, but I am not sure if I feel good for him because his sister died tragically and now he is playing football well. As if, again, one issue really makes one feel better about the other.

He threw deep to Mike Wallace twice, connecting on 46- and 41-yard touchdowns --ironically, once beating the son of former Steeler assistant Russ Grimm, rookie safety Cody Grimm --among his three scoring passes.

I am not sure if this is actually ironic or not.

Not to keep you hanging, but in tomorrow's column, I'll update you on what Roethlisberger's been doing while suspended.

Bangin' bitches and not sweatin' the trick-ass hoes who have brought him down in the past?

4. Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh. Might have been higher if not for a pretty quiet game Sunday in Tampa. But to me, Polamalu looks more valuable to the Steelers than Ben Roethlisberger.

If only there were a remedial, oversimplistic way to determine which player were more valuable. Oh yeah, there is!

(Bengoodfella looks at the Steelers' record without Roethlisberger and without Polamalu and determines that Polamalu is more valuable)

MVP Watch

1. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia. Seriously. Eagles have outscored foes 80-49 in Vick's 10 quarters of play, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is 6:0, and he's still the most dangerous running threat at the position.

9. Philadelphia (2-1). The Eagles' line and defense probably isn't good enough to go deep into January, but we've learned one thing of late: With Michael Vick, all things are possible.

I had honestly forgotten about the media's love for all-things-Mike Vick. I am slowly starting to remember why I never really liked Vick. When he played for the Falcons, sportswriters just loved him. Then he did something wrong and the same sportswriters turned on him. Now he is playing well again and they are back up his ass and say he is redeeming himself. It's all ridiculous to me.

What are the odds Vick starts playing well again and then becomes the last guy to show up to practice and the first guy to leave practice like he did in Atlanta...except he does this in Philadelphia now? No one ever doubted his talent, but it was his practice habits that were always the question.

Quote of the Week II

"I guess in this world we don't have a lot of people with, like, backbones. Just because somebody pay you money don't mean they'll make you do whatever they want or whatever. I mean, does that mean everything is for sale? I mean, I'm not for sale. Yeah, I signed the contract and got paid a lot of money, but ... that don't mean I'm for sale or a slave or whatever."

-- Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, to radio station 106.7 The Fan. Haynesworth has been paid $34-million since signing with the Redskins 19 months ago, and is not happy the team is asking the defensive tackle to play defensive tackle.

I could get on-board the Haynesworth pity train if he would just express himself a little bit better. If he would explain eloquently, rather than whine, how he feels like he would be better put to use in the 3-4 defense than playing nose tackle than I could maybe, maybe, get behind what he has to say. He could be better used as an outside defensive end in the 3-4 defense, but there is no proof of that obviously. Instead he cries, whines and says absolutely stupid things to the media like this about the situation. Part of me thinks Haynesworth could be better served as a defensive end in a 3-4, but he doesn't help himself by his shitty performance on the field and his insane comments to the media.

He is this week's example #1 of why the average sports fan can't connect with today's athlete. Possibly, Haynesworth could state his case and get some people on his side. The Redskins signed him as a pass-rusher/run-stopper hybrid, but at the nose tackle position he is responsible mostly for taking up blocks and stopping the run. Perhaps he could be of more use at the defensive end position in a 3-4, but he compares himself to a slave and pretty much forces the public to hate him.

Tweet of the Week

"Wow. From his Wikipedia page: 'Kareem Michael McKenzie (born May 24, 1979) is literally human garbage for the New York Giants ...' ''

-- NJ_StevePoliti, columnist Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, 63 minutes after the Giants lost to Tennessee, and McKenzie, the Giants' right tackle, committed two personal-foul penalties for New York.

I checked. Politi's spot on. There's a Wikipedia sports terrorist out there.

I love Wikipedia terrorists. As of right now it says,

"McKenzie wears a Schutt DNA football helmet which is evidently too tight based on his bone headed play on September 26, 2010."

It also says,

"Kareem Michael McKenzie (born May 24, 1979) is team killing player for the New York Giants of the National Football League."

I'm guessing that has to suck to read if you are Kareem McKenzie.

This lead me to look up Peter King's wikipedia entry and look what I found out about his early childhood:

His father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. Petter's mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. His father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. His childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring he'd make meat helmets. When he was insolent he was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds. At the age of 12 peter received his first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved his testicles.

Quite interesting. It seems Peter King and Dr. Evil had similar upbringings. I wonder if Peter King finds his wikipedia terrorist as interesting as he found Kareem McKenzie's.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

The Green Bay Packers can thank Brett Favre for one more thing,

It's about Brett Favre. Yep, it only interests Peter because of that funny feeling in his loins when he talks about Favre.

Mostly, the Packers should thank Favre for retiring initially and acting like a baby when he didn't get the starting job immediately handed back to him. They should thank him for this because Aaron Rodgers is awesome.

I will save you all the headache from reading the wall of text, but the Packers got Clay Matthews with the pick they got from the Jets for Favre, which they traded to the Patriots to draft Matthews. I am surprised in his next chart about the Patriots that Peter doesn't mention the Patriots traded away an opportunity to draft Matthews.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

In the last seven days, I've been on Southwest, AirTran, the Amtrak Acela (twice); I've been stranded in Baltimore for four hours, been in Houston, in Manhattan ... and I have these five questions:

2. Why, when a child is crying that endless, bloodcurdling cry on an airplane, does a parent over and over say "Shhhhhh, shhhhhh,'' instead of taking the baby out of the seat, putting the child over his/her shoulder and rubbing or gently patting the baby in the back -- anything to change the dynamic or to try to coax a burp out of the poor kid?

Peter King has turned into "Super Nanny" on us. Don't know how to parent your kid? Ask Peter King. He knows the correct way to pretty much do anything.

3. Why could I find the New York Post, New York Times, New York Daily News, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Investors Daily at the Hudson News outlet in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport ... but not the hometown Baltimore Sun?

Hasn't Peter seen "The Wire?" It's because the newspaper is dying.

4. Why, if a flight is scheduled to leave at 10:15 a.m. out of Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, and your plane backs away from the gate at 10:15 a.m. and gets out to the runway on a cloudless, windless day (last Thursday), and it isn't the morning rush hour or the afternoon rush hour, does it then take 32 minutes to get up in the air? Atlanta's infamous for this, in all weather.

Call me not an impatient asshole, but I would prefer that a plane flight crew and air-traffic controllers take as much time as they would like to work on the plane. There's probably air traffic or some other reason why a plane can't immediately take off. It's annoying, but if this is a major issue in your life, then you have a nice life. Why does Peter King insist on bitching about every little travel inconvenience? If he doesn't like it, he can drive a few hours to the next airport and fly to wherever he is going from there.

I have to tell you about a great experience I had in Boston last Tuesday. The PR man for Runners World, David Tratner (some of you in football might remember Dave as one of the Jets' PR people in recent years),

Oh yeah, Dave! How is he?

We got a coffee in the Starbucks at the Sheraton -- the same hotel that houses the marathon runners every April -- and now I was the running nerd, needing affirmation from one of the greatest American runners ever. I didn't know how to ask it, so I just blurted it out:

"What'd you think of me as a runner?''

"You look smooth, comfortable,'' he said. "In eight miles, I never heard you breathe. You've got a very economical stride. You don't look like you're working hard. You're smooth. You're an athlete.''

Oh, stop!

This is an absolute ego trip that Peter King is taking. What is this guy going to say to him? "You suck" and then have Peter bitch about it in his MMQB?

"You're just a little hunched over at the shoulders. But you look like a lifelong marathoner in terms of the ease and the comfort of your stride. I really think you could run a marathon if you wanted to. You could fit into a running group with experienced runners here in Boston and fit right in.''

I'm blushing.

"You're really going to do well,'' he said. "You're going to love it.''

There is nothing like fishing for compliments. Peter hasn't had so much smoke blown up his ass since Brett Favre said Peter loved like a young Robert Redford as they were laying on a blanket at dusk in a field off the main highway in rural Mississippi.

a. Kyle Orton has really taken command of the Denver offense, and I don't say that just because he threw for 476 yards Sunday. You notice that Tim Tebow was the third quarterback Sunday? That's a nod to the fact that Orton's running the offense so well that Josh McDaniels doesn't think there's any point right now in taking Orton off the field to throw the Tebow change-up at the defense.

I am sure Woody Paige still thinks Tim Tebow should be the starter though. Wait, we haven't heard from Woody about this issue? There's a shock. A sportswriter takes a strong stand about a local team and when he is proven wrong doesn't talk about it again.

a. Adrian Peterson is going to see that first-quarter drop, with nothing but open field in front of him, for a long time.

Earlier in the column, Peter praised Peterson for not fumbling this year. Perhaps he has replaced one running back vice with another.

f. You're staring down your targets, Jimmy Clausen.

Warning: Slight rant coming.

The least of Jimmy Clausen's worries right now is that he is staring down his targets. He fumbled the snap twice yesterday. Twice. That's a main concern right now, getting the ball from the center to start the play. Clausen isn't staring down his receivers that badly. It was his first NFL start. First NFL start. First NFL start against a decent Bengals defense. Contrary to what the media wants you to believe, Clausen is not a proven veteran, but a 22 year old rookie. He was an upgrade over Matt Moore and even had a better QB rating than Carson Palmer (slightly) yesterday. Give the kid a few weeks and let's teach him the basics of taking a snap before worrying too much about him staring down his targets which was #21 on the list of problems for him this week. In fact, if Peter had watched the game he would know Clausen had more dropped snaps from the center than interceptions. He only had one interception and no other close calls from passes that could have been intercepted.

j. The Giants, in general, are contending with San Francisco for 2010's most disappointing team.

Really? Peter King personally had Carolina in the playoffs and John Fox as Coach of the Year. They have lost to an average Bengals team, lost to the "disappointing Giants" Peter just mentioned and lost to the Buccaneers. They are more disappointing than the Giants because the Giants beat Carolina.

4. I think I buy Chris Mortensen's report Sunday that Brett Favre has had second thoughts about his return to the Vikings. And why wouldn't he, when the team basically dragged him off his property a month ago?

They dragged him off the property because they needed a fucking answer on whether he was playing this year or not. Favre is the most unlikeable athlete in the world right now. You know he is thinking of quitting or he should not have come back. He only wanted to come back so he could be the hero and have a good year. He doesn't give a shit about his teammates or the Vikings organization to stick through a tough year. He was dragged off his property because he would not tell the Vikings if he was returning this year or not. They needed an answer. Favre gave one and like a baby he regrets that decision. Favre only wants to be a part of the Vikings when things are good.

But will he act on his emotions and quit? I don't believe it. Not for a second.

I believe it. I believe he wants his consecutive games started streak to continue (because he is all about personal goals, no matter how much he tries to admit he isn't), so he is in quite a situation now. He can't retire now, because he would look bad, but he needs to keep playing to keep that consecutive games started streak away from Peyton Manning.

If the Vikings nose dive it would not shock me if Favre got "injured" and had to retire. Nothing he does shocks me. I believe he could retire right now and 50% of the sports media would stick up for him.

a. Congrats on 2,500 wins, Bobby Cox.

Fun fact: Every MLB team where the Braves have played this year (on the road) has done something or given something to Cox, except for one team...the Florida Marlins. They are too cheap to spend any money on him. This just contributes to the continuing terribleness of that organization.

c. The last week of the baseball season was looking interesting, until Papelbon and Okajima took the mound Sunday night.

I like how many "true" Red Sox fans (Bill Simmons being one of them) got more interested as the Red Sox got closer to contending at the end of this year. It's like there is a correlation in their interest and the Red Sox ability to contend.

e. I wish something could make me interested in the National League West race.

Have it be between three teams on the East Coast. Then that's all we would hear about over here. The NL West race is taking place on the West Coast, so East Coast snobs who live in their Boston/New York-centric world don't give a shit about anything that doesn't involve those two teams.

i. Missed The Office the other night. I thought Michael was off the show. What's the story? Does he have one more year?

How can you enjoy this show and be this clueless about the show? It's widely known, especially among fans of the show, that Steve Carell has one more year.

Actually, I feel the same way about Peter and other things (like baseball) that he likes as well. He can be so clueless about things he claims to like.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2 comments Bill Plaschke Suggests a Dodgers Makeover...Few Are Impressed

It's been a while since I have covered a Bill Plaschke article. July 16 to be exact. That is a long time for me to have laid off Plaschke because his rate of terribleness-to-article-written is among the highest in the United States. Today, I will rectify this egregious error. Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers need a makeover and fortunately for the Ned Colletti, who I am sure listens to everything Bill Plaschke suggests, he does have some suggestions. Mostly, he would like to keep the team like it is...but still change things.

With no money, no closer and no clubhouse leader, the team could go from bad to worse next year. GM Ned Colletti needs to make some quick, cheap, decisive moves.

That's what Plaschke wants to see. There are three aspects to the moves he will suggest. Let's break them down very briefly:

Quick moves: Sign free agents before the free agency period actually starts. Made trades and violate MLB rules that players have to pass through waivers before they can be traded to another team.

Cheap moves: Sign players very cheaply. If a player wants 3 years at $12 million, trick him into signing a cheaper contract and have an attorney ready to battle it out.

Decisive moves: Don't quickly sign a player and then release him the next day. Try to ensure all big-name players signed are still on the team for Spring Training.

Mostly, Bill Plaschke thinks the Dodgers need new players on the team because the current make-up of this Dodgers team isn't going to work. By "new players" he means "re-sign many of the players currently on the team and then increase payroll."

When Torre made that pronouncement at Friday's changing-of-the-poor-slob-who-has-to-manage-the-Dodgers ceremony, he didn't act like he was leaving a sacred dugout, but a burning building.

He is 70 years old (Is he really that old?) and he saw Lou Piniella announce he was retiring at the end of the year and then get worn down by the Cubs losing and clubhouse issues, so he just left mid-season. Can we blame Torre that much? I do have to say, if Torre writes a book about his time with the Dodgers and throws the players, management and everyone else under the bus, then we may find out if I was right in the late 90's when I thought he was an asshole.

(Of course I thought he was an asshole because he kept beating the Braves in the World Series and the Yankees were insufferable to me at that point. Now he would be an asshole because he writes book and burns bridges in those books. Intent for calling someone an asshole doesn't really matter does it? I'm still right if Torre writes a book called "The Dodgers Years" and talks about he never wanted Manny Ramirez on the team and Matt Kemp was too wrapped up in dating pop-stars to improve his baseball game.)

You know it's bad when a guy who managed a dozen years for George Steinbrenner's team can't stand one more minute with yours.

Again, he is 70. Feelings change over time and the things a person can put up with over time change.

You think this Dodger season has been lousy? You haven't seen anything yet.

The veterans have faded. The kids have stalled. The stadium is booing. The owner is broke. That rumbling you hear is not the cavalry, but the cellar, growling underneath a team whose final game this autumn will not stop its precipitous drop toward last place.

"The owner is broke." Remember that statement in regard to the Dodgers' payroll for 2011.

I think these statements sufficiently establish that Bill Plaschke doesn't care for the players on this team and what keeping these players on the team would encompass...which is an immediate free fall to last place in the NL West...which is also where the Dodgers are this year.

Less than one year after being perhaps a couple of Jonathan Broxton strikes from reaching the World Series, the Dodgers are the length of one Ryan Theriot bunt from being one of the worst teams in baseball next season.

Sounds to me like that Ryan Theriot trade is on Ned Colletti. For some reason, Plaschke doesn't blame Colletti in this entire article. He talks about how the players at nearly every position aren't very good, but acts like Colletti has always been handicapped by the payroll and never mentions that its possible Colletti hasn't done a bang-up job.

Until owner Frank McCourt finally sells, bringing in new money and fresh hope, they will probably remain that way.

This is the one statement in this column I will agree with. Though I will, again, put the finger on Ned Colletti. If Plaschke has a problem with the current team, that may be on Colletti more than McCourt.

If Friday was a day to recognize Mattingly as the Dodgers' manager for 2011, then Saturday was a day to start feeling sorry for him. For him to have a chance with this mess, he needs to change his nickname to Donnie Miracle.

(Bill Plaschke starts calling comedy troupes looking for a job and samples this joke for them. The receptionist every place he calls immediately hangs up the phone)

Money might fix it, but McCourt has little. Prospects of high value might fix it, but the farm system has few.

The Dodgers could fix this by trading players like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for prospects of high value. I am not advocating this, but it would bring in high value prospects and save money.

(spoiler alert) Bill Plaschke will reject this idea. He wants the team to have more money and more high level prospects, but he doesn't think the Dodgers should trade more expensive established players for prospects with high value that are cheaper. He wants the Dodgers to trade their established players for other established players, who possibly cost as much money as the players being traded away.

Start with the starting pitching. It's good, but it's going to get worse.

The only two guys guaranteed to be back next year are Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley,

That is not a bad thing since these two pitchers also happen to have the most talent on the entire pitching staff and very well could be the two best pitchers on the staff right now as well.

as Vicente Padilla, Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda are all free agents.

Bill Plaschke wants the Dodgers to save some money, so losing two expensive pitchers seems to be a fairly good way to do that. Not re-signing these guys would meet the criteria for the Dodgers needing to be cheaper.

(another spoiler alert) Bill Plaschke says the starting staff will get worse, but yet he advocates the Dodgers sign two of these three free agent pitchers.

Move to the infield. There is no catcher,

Russell Martin made $5.05 million this year. I would imagine they could replace his production at a cheaper price than that. There you go, I just saved the Dodgers more money. I just think logically if a person thinks a team needs to start over, then losing these expensive under-performing players, like Martin, isn't a bad thing.

first baseman Loney doesn't have enough power in this lineup, second baseman Ryan Theriot is a complementary piece, shortstop Rafael Furcal can't stay healthy, and third baseman Blake is finally showing his age.

Somewhere in here, you would think that Bill Plaschke would blame Ned Colletti. Furcal has never been able to stay healthy, everyone knew Theriot was just a complementary piece when they traded with the Cubs for him this year, and Casey Blake did not have a fake birth certificate that stated he was 29 years old when the Dodgers signed him to a 3 year/$17.5 million contract through 2011 so the team knew how old he was. Shouldn't some of the blame fall on the doorstep of Ned Colletti? Plaschke never actually points the blame that way and it confuses me.

Now for the outfield. Andre Ethier has regressed in right field, Matt Kemp remains an enigma in center field,

Ethier was injured this year for a time and he didn't regress much at all. Plus he is 28 years old and is fairly affordable. Ethier in no way should be replaced in right field by the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp is 25 years old and did regress this year. I can't imagine why Bill Plaschke would list Kemp and Ethier as parts of the problem with the Dodgers team. He seems to indicate he thinks the team should get rid of them.

and they really don't have a left fielder who fits.

They don't have one right now, but remember the There is time to get a LF, especially with Lilly, Kuroda, Martin, and Ramirez's contract coming off their books. I know money is scarce, but the Dodgers can afford to get a LF that "fits," whatever that means, as long as they don't spend a shitload of money in other places.

Finally, the bullpen, which would be great, except it has no closer and three setup guys and blown leads everywhere.

I wouldn't give up on Jonathan Broxton quite yet. Closers and set up guys can be inconsistent as it is anyway. One year they may be great, the next year, maybe they will be bad. There is time to fix this.

So what is a harried general manager to do?

Make better personnel moves?

"We're not talking about a core group that has not been successful, because they have," Colletti said. "It's too early to say that the struggles will continue. I can't say that. I'm not going to blow this up."

Probably a smart move. Obviously adjustments need to be made though.

Translated: "I don't have any money to do anything big, so I'm going to have to work with what I've got, so chill out and let me figure out how to reach them, OK?"

Translation for what Bill Plaschke is saying: "I like Ned Colletti, so I am going to list all of the personnel moves he made and then act as if this whole problem isn't because of him at all and try to make it look like the team needs to get blown up, just without getting blown up."

Bill is treading a thin line by complaining about the players at every position, but not blaming the General Manager for signing/trading for those players.

The first item on his winter list will be Matt Kemp. Everyone around town wants him traded. Everyone in baseball wants to trade for him.

Don't pull that trigger, Ned.

Just a couple of paragraphs ago, Bill Plaschke had complaints about Matt Kemp. Now, he wants to keep him.

This is the worst time to trade him. You won't get full value for him. You've endured what is surely the worst of his immaturity. Stick with him long enough to enjoy his adulthood.

So wait until Matt Kemp is an important and productive part of the team and then trade him? I agree the Dodgers wouldn't get full value for Matt Kemp, but after calling Kemp "an enigma" how does Plaschke know Kemp will improve?

The same goes for Andre Ethier, whose biggest enemy remains his own perfectionist personality. He should also grow out of his inconsistency.

I don't even understand this. I would take Ethier on the Braves in a heartbeat (not in place of Jason Heyward).

So if you can't trade your two best young hitters, how do you get better?

That's what I am wondering. What are you getting at Plaschke?

You look at moving guys who can be replaced. You look at moving Loney, who may have reached his power potential and would be outstanding on a team with other sluggers.

So you trade the players that have lesser trade value, which also means the Dodgers will less value in return for the player? Also, how does Loney all of a sudden become a great player on a team full of sluggers? He is still a first baseman without a lot of power. That doesn't change because the players around him can hit home runs. Perhaps if a lack of home runs in the lineup around him is the issue, James Loney isn't the problem for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers would also essentially be selling low on Loney, which is what Plaschke advised against in the case of Matt Kemp.

You look at moving former closer Broxton, whose shattered confidence isn't helped by the fact that he is now being jeered with nearly every pitch.

This should be simple as well. This is another case of the Dodgers selling low on a 26 year old who has shown he can be an elite closer in the majors. It makes no sense to sell low on him just because he had a bad year. How can Plaschke justify not selling low on Matt Kemp, but selling low on Jonathan Broxton?

Has Plaschke ever heard of Brad Lidge? He had a bad year as well and now he isn't that shabby of a closer. Closers can have bad years for no reason at times, just like they can have good years for no good reason.

You use both of them, and more, in a trade for a power-hitting first baseman or third baseman.

So Bill Plaschke thinks another team will trade for a struggling closer who has lost his confidence and a non-power hitter in James Loney (those are not my words, but what Plaschke thinks about these two guys) in return for a power-hitting first baseman or third baseman? I would be interested to know what team would make this trade. Power-hitting first basemen and third basemen don't come along that often, at least quality power-hitting first basemen and third basemen a team would want to put in the #4/#5 spot in the lineup don't.

You sign a free-agent outfielder in your only big winter expenditure.

The big expenditure other than the two starting pitchers Plaschke will suggest the Dodgers sign.

How about this idea: The Dodgers sign Adam Dunn to play first base (I know he sucks defensively, but he does have power), put Ethier in LF (which is a position he has played before), and put Loney in RF (which is a position he has played) and then sign a free agent third baseman.

It is an out-of-the-box idea at least. It puts Loney in a more powerful lineup which makes him an outstanding player. Granted, this probably isn't the best idea, but it also involves making the lineup stronger while not trading Loney and Broxton when their value isn't at the highest. If the team needs a middle-of-the-order hitter, then Dunn is that guy.

You bring back Lilly and Kuroda.

Well, naturally for the reason that this move doesn't meet the criteria to be "quick," or "cheap." Neither Ted Lilly or Kuroda are going to be cheap to bring back to the Dodgers at all and they probably won't sign very quickly (at least Lilly probably won't) until the market has been set. Lilly will probably want something in the neighborhood of what Randy Wolf got, which was $9 million per year and Kuroda will most likely want something in that neighborhood. That's two pitchers for $18-$20 million, plus the expensive bat to put in LF. Signing these two pitchers is eating a lot of what losing Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin gained the Dodgers.

And, then, as important as all of that, you find a leader. You find a guy unafraid to stare down, scare down, and even throw down with one of his younger teammates. You find a guy who will not let them whine. You find a guy who will not let them wilt.

And again, these types of players are just so easy to find. I know a way! Sign Derek Jeter and move Furcal to third or second base. That will fix the problem of finding a leader! I am sure Jeter only wants $20 million per year or something, that shouldn't be a problem.

"'Do we have one player in there who stands up and says, 'Follow me?' " asked Colletti. "No."

Says the guy who built this team. I wonder, other than Ned Colletti, who in the past would have been responsible for finding this type of player and signing them to play for the Dodgers? Probably not Ned Colletti, the General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Saturday morning before another loss against the hard-charging Colorado Rockies, the clubhouse was deadly silent. At this rate, it could be a couple of years before we hear from it again.

Which is why Bill Plaschke essentially wants to keep the same team on the field for next year as was on the field this year or increase a payroll to a point the Dodgers may not be able to increase payroll. Let's look at his proposed changes that would keep the Dodgers from being in the basement again, as compared to this year's Dodgers team. Notice how the team isn't that different and the payroll would be increased:

(I got all information from Cot's Baseball Contracts and I am not including bench players in this discussion, but only including the parts of the team that Bill Plaschke suggested get replaced and gave all arbitration eligible players a 25% increase in salary, which may be inaccurate, but shouldn't throw the numbers way off)

2010 rotation:

Clayton Kershaw- $0.4 million
Chad Billingsley- $3.9 million
Hiroki Kuroda- $15.4 million
Ted Lilly- $13 million (I know the Dodgers didn't pay this much for him, but this is how much his salary was last year)
Vincente Padilla- $5.0 million

Closer: Jonathan Broxton- $4 million

Set up guys:
Hong Chih-Kuo- $0.9 million
Ronald Belisario- $0.4 million
George Sherrill- $4.5 million

Bill Plaschke's Proposed 2011 Rotation:

Clayton Kershaw- $0.5 million
Chad Billingsley- $4.8 million
Hiroki Kuroda- $10.0 million
Ted Lilly- $10.0 million
?????- ?????

Closer: ?????-?????

Set up guys:
Hong Chih-Kuo- $1.2 million
Ronald Belisario- $0.4 million
George Sherrill- $5.6 million

2010 Pitching Payroll: $47.5 million

2011 Proposed Payroll: $32.5 million

Remaining needs: Now they need to sign a closer and a starting pitcher with $15 million. This could probably be done.

2010 Lineup:

C: Russell Martin- $5.1 million
1B: James Loney- $3.1 million
2B: Ryan Theriot- $2.6 million
3B: Casey Blake- $6.0 million
SS: Rafael Furcal- $9.5 million
RF: Andre Ethier- $6 million
CF: Matt Kemp- $4 million
LF: Manny Ramirez- $20 million

Bill Plaschke's Proposed 2011 Lineup:

C: Rod Barajas/Platoon catcher- $1 million/?????
1B: Power hitting middle of the order hitter/?????-
2B: Ryan Theriot- $3.3 million
3B: ?????/Power hitting middle of the order hitter/Casey Blake- ?????/$5.3 million
SS: Rafael Furcal- $13 million
RF: Andre Ethier- $9.3 million
CF: Matt Kemp- $6.9 million
LF: Expensive free agent- ?????

2010 Hitting Payroll- $56.3 million

2011 Proposed Payroll (w/ Casey Blake at 3B)- $38.8 million

Remaining needs: The Dodgers will need to trade for the power-hitting first/third baseman, sign a backup catcher, and sign an expensive left fielder for $17.5 million. I'm not so sure this could be done.

Remember this is just to keep the payroll at the same level it was in 2010, which isn't guaranteed because Frank McCourt has wanted to cut payroll before and with the legal woes of the McCourts the Dodgers may not have the same payroll in 2011 they had in 2010.

The Dodgers can probably re-sign Lilly and Kuroda, but will that leave them enough money to get a closer, pay for the power-hitting 1B, and then sign an expensive LF? I'm not so sure.

So one of two things will happen:

1. The Dodgers are able to do this (somehow) and improve their team. I don't think this is likely. If they are able to do Plaschke's plan, which I doubt, they would probably be a better team. I still wouldn't trade Broxton and Loney though.

2. The Dodgers will not be able to sign an expensive LF or a reliable closer (especially given the reported money woes they will have) and will have basically made a trade off between the upgrade at 1B/3B and keeping the status quo at starting pitcher and creating new holes on the roster. Then Casey Blake would keep playing 3B, one of the unreliable set up guys will have to be the closer, and they will have to find a LF that probably isn't of the standard the Dodgers want.

Essentially, the Dodgers would end up with the same roster that Bill Plaschke went position-by-position and ranted against. If it isn't the same roster, it isn't a much better roster than the Dodgers currently have. I think the Dodgers are still not a bad team, they just had a bad year. I would stick with Kemp, Ethier, and Loney, and use the money they save in having Kuroda, Martin and Ramirez off the books to upgrade in left field and at second base. For a team that seems to be think it will have a tighter budget in the future, I am not sure Bill Plaschke's team makeover is realistic.