Tuesday, August 14, 2012

6 comments Jerry Green Longs for Yesterday

I have created a BotB Yahoo Fantasy Football League if anyone cares to join. There should be some rule changes this year as compared to last year's league. Either way, the league ID is 250429 and the password is "eckstein." I have also created a College Football Yahoo Pick 'Em league if anyone cares to join that league. The league ID is 5656 and the password is "asu."

Jerry Green has a column up entitled "Wild cards and fire sales? Give me back my old-school baseball!" This article should be entitled "Just post this article on Bottom of the Barrel please." Jerry Green doesn't like these deadline trades and the excessive Wild Card spots in the playoffs. Now there are eight MLB teams who have a chance to make the playoffs? What a farce! Let's ignore that the NBA, NFL and NHL have large playoff fields and in the NHL and NBA half of the teams in the entire league make the playoffs. Bud Selig is ruining baseball yet again!

I'm not a huge fan of the one game Wild Card playoff, but it is one game. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things to me. But dammit, Jerry wants yesteryear back and he wants it now. What would Bowie Kuhn do? He'd reject all these trades made at the deadline. They are bad for baseball you know.

The major trade deadline passed with a flurry of activity as some ballclubs surrendered two months before the finish.

The teams who are trading off players at the deadline are wanting to find a way to get back into the playoffs sooner rather than later. So being against fire sales is to be against bad teams trying to get better in order to make the playoffs in the future. There is more than a competitive balance issue that goes into a deadline trade as well. It's not just about teams giving up. The Phillies probably weren't going to re-sign Shane Victorino, so they decided to get some value for him by trading him to the Dodgers. The current Rangers team is built (partly) around their realization that they weren't going to be able to re-sign Mark Teixeira after the 2008 season. So they traded him to the Braves and got Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz from the Braves in exchange for Teixeira. The trade deadline is one part teams trying to improve their team over the long-term and one part a result of the free agency era when teams realize they will not re-sign pending free agents and decide to get value for these players outside of just a compensatory pick in the MLB Draft.

The better ballclubs attacked, some fortifying their rosters with seasoned athletes who will hang around for two months before testing their free-agency appeal.

And if a team is not in contention for the playoffs, why have players who hang around only to leave in two months? Teams may choose to trade these players. It makes sense in certain situations to do this.

Curiously, if the season had ended Friday night, the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Athletics and Angels would be the teams targeted into the American League's pennant playoffs. The Tigers would have failed to make it into the postseason.
They would not have qualified even under commissioner Bud Selig's new brainstorm of sending two wild-card teams from each league into the playoffs. Bud just loves wild cards.
I think we can mostly agree the Wild Card era that was instituted in the mid-90's has been a success. The Wild Car brought competitive teams into the playoffs (as seen by how many Wild Card teams have won the World Series) and has given more fan bases a chance to enjoy the postseason. I find it somewhat contradictory to hate deadline deals and also hate the Wild Card. If there was no Wild Card then there would be more deadline deals because fewer teams would be in the hunt for fewer playoff spots. There will be fewer deadline deals as long as more teams are in the hunt for the playoffs come early August.

In Major League Baseball, the games of August and September comprise the most enjoyable — and most dangerous — time of the season. Eight weeks or so to go, some 55 games. Games that will determine the actual qualifiers for the playoffs and on to the ultimate, the World Series.

And in the Wild Card era more teams and fans of teams are able to enjoy the last eight weeks of the season. Let's not forget the playoffs haven't been diluted in any way by adding the Wild Card. Only time will tell if another Wild Card will dilute the playoff field or not, but I'm guessing it won't. Baseball still will only have 10 teams with a shot at the World Series once the playoffs start, while the NFL has 12 teams and the NBA/NHL have 16 teams with a shot at a title. I don't love the idea of the one-game Wild Card playoff, but I also don't hate it completely.

The sensible thought was that the Tigers, finally on top in the division, would run joyously off toward October, never again to be dislodged.
I should know now that baseball, such a beautiful game, hardly is ever sensible.
If it were the Tigers would, at worst, be wild-card worthy.
Which would be a bad thing of course...because Jerry Green finds the Wild Card stupid and suscribes to the "yesterday was better and there should never be any changes to baseball in any fashion at any point" line of thinking that can thoroughly irritate me at times.

Alas, it never figured that the Athletics — with Brandon Inge — would fit prominently into the mix behind the Rangers in the AL West. Better than the Angels, a wobbly, desperate club that fortified itself with a rental addition of pitcher Zack Greinke — bound for free-agency.

Which it was the Angels' right to fortify the team with a rental addition of Greinke. They have a formidable pitching rotation now. In fact, the Tigers traded for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. Notice Jerry Green, who writes for a Detroit paper, doesn't mention the Marlins (who are the most well-known MLB team for having fire sales) as a team selling off players because the Tigers benefited from the Marlins annual trade deadline trades. Contending teams make moves in order to push themselves over the top into the playoffs and hopefully into the World Series. Trade deadline players have often made a difference in the postseason as well. Not that Jerry Green cares of course. Any change is a bad change. He probably would still rather Model T cares be the only cars on the road and misses the days of black-and-white television.

But imagine — a third-place team eking into the playoffs and somehow making it into the World Series and becoming champions.

I don't necessarily love the idea of a one-game playoff to determine who plays in the next round, but if a third-place team has the fifth best record in the American League and wins a one-game playoff and three playoff series (ALDS, ALCS, World Series) then that team could very well deserve to be crowned champions. So if a team ekes into the playoffs and wins the World Series I would have no issue with it.

The purist in me rebels.

Which is fine. Differing opinions are not a huge deal. A third-place team that ekes into the playoffs and becomes World Champions could very well deserve to win this title if they win three playoff series. Being a purist doesn't mean being completely unaccepting of change.

The purist rebels again when certain MLB franchises wave white flags in July and deal off precious talent to other franchises with ambitions to reach the postseason.

I never knew disliking the trade deadline was a purist thing to do. I always thought trading young minor league talent for proven major league talent was something everyone could agree isn't a bad idea for some teams.

A year ago, the Phillies won 102 games during the regular season — more than any other club in Selig's two-league empire.
This year the Phillies already have quit — burdened by contract overloads, luxury-tax problems and injuries.
Victorino was a pending free agent and Hunter Pence still had value since he doesn't become a free agent until after next season. It's a good strategy to reduce contracts and increase the prospect pipeline in a down year. Why should the Phillies keep players on the roster in a down year when they can take advantage of the down year to cut payroll and improve their farm system? This isn't a non-purist way of thinking. It is a smart way of thinking. In a season where the Phillies aren't competing for various reasons why not use this as an opportunity to cut payroll and increase the young talent in the Phillies' system? It makes sense to do this.

Beset by the economics of Major League Baseball in 2012, they lacked the pride to fight into October.

"Beset by the economics of MLB in 2012?" The Phillies are one of the highest payroll teams in the majors and they will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. They just gave one of their pitchers a new contract worth $20 million per year. It was injuries that set them back in the beginning of the season and they never quite caught up in the NL East. The Phillies can handle the economics of baseball, but they assumed since they were having a down year why not take a step back to cut payroll in an effort to possibly be players on the free agent market and replenish the minor league pipeline.

It wasn't a lack of pride, but a recognition they weren't making the playoffs this year that caused these trades. I fail to see how using a down year to cut payroll and replenish the prospect pipeline isn't something a purist would like to see done. Let's not forget last year the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence. So this is the first time in a few years they have been sellers at the trade deadline.

The Giants and Dodgers are involved in an intense, old-fashioned race in the NL West. The Phillies shamefully dwell in last place in the NL East.

They dwell as the not-first-place team in the NL East for the first time in five or six years. The Phillies are a terrible example to use when trying to show how MLB teams are giving up at the trade deadline and trading away prospects. They are usually the ones trading FOR the players and giving up prospects. Next year, the Phillies have more payroll flexibility and will be able to contend again. I fail to see how taking a step back this year to take a step forward in the very next year should piss off baseball purists.

Once upon a time, baseball actually had a commissioner with the gumption to void such a surrender.

You mean a commissioner who meddled in the affairs of teams? Yeah, I hate that. Commissioners should generally leave owners alone to run the team the way they see fit.

If there is a team in the majors Bud Selig needs to meddle in the affairs of it is the Florida Marlins. The Marlins put together a bright and shiny new team this year to sell their new ballpark and then started trading away all the players they could at the trade deadline. Only the most naive of people knew this probably wouldn't happen. We know the Phillies are going to compete again, so why is Jerry Green picking on them? They still have Halladay, Lee, Howard, Utley, Ruiz and Rollins. They are getting older, but they aren't too old yet. Why should the commissioner get involved with the Phillies' affairs and tell them they can't sell off players? It doesn't hurt baseball for a large market team like the Phillies to sell off players during one season.

He was Bowie Kuhn, who was commissioner when free-agency became a fact for baseball via a federal court ruling in 1976.

He is a hero for meddling in the affairs of MLB teams of course.

In '76, Charlie Finley, the A's curmudgeon owner, traded Reggie Jackson to the Orioles. In mid-June — the trade deadline back then — Finley sold Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for a million bucks each.

And why did Charlie Finley do this? Because a few of these players were going to be free agents after the season and were not going to re-sign with the A's. Finley wanted to get value for these players and run the team he saw fit. Bowie Kuhn would have none of that and pulled a David Stern-before-I-started-calling-it-a-David Stern and vetoed these trades.

What happened after the 1976 season? Jackson went to the Yankees after playing in Baltimore for one year. Fingers went to the Padres. Rudi went to the Angels.

The A's then won 63 games in 1977, 69 games in 1978, and 54 games in 1979. I'm not saying there is a direct correlation between Finley not being able to sell these players in 1976 and the A's having a bad record in the three seasons after the 1976 season. My point is that Charlie Finley should be able to run his team the way he wants to run it and he was right in this case, while Bowie Kuhn was wrong. These players were not going to re-sign with the A's, so Finley wanted to get money for them. Finley was cheap, there's no doubt about that and I won't completely defend him, but he sold these players once the trade opportunities with other teams had run dry.

He then peddled Vida Blue to the Yankees — after luring the Tigers' Jim Campbell into a bidding affair — for $1.5 million.

How dare Charlie Finley use any type of leverage to get a better deal. Luring other owners/GM's into a bidding affair? Baseball owners and GM's should be above nonsense like that.

Kuhn termed Finley's offloading of three stars a "fire sale." Then invoking the commissioner's "best interest of baseball" mandate, Kuhn voided the three sales.

If I'm willing to admit it was in the best interest of baseball to void these deals, which I am not sure I will do since I think in general an owner has a right to run his team as he sees fit, trading for players at the trade deadline is much different from outright selling players. The Phillies aren't selling their players, they are getting prospects back in return for these players. It is not in the best interest of baseball to tell the Phillies which of their players they can and can not trade, nor is it in the best interest of baseball to void a deal because they don't believe the Phillies are receiving enough in return for Pence/Blanton/Victorino.

Now the Phillies have conducted a fire sale — and it might not be over with waiver deals still possible.

Yeah it is a fire sale, which is why the Phillies have three players making at/over $20 million per year on the roster and two players making at/over $15 million per year on the roster. Those five players are making more than the payroll of 16 major league teams, but Jerry Green believes trading players whose combined salary for 2011 was $30.4 million is having a fire sale. Because in most fire sales a team keeps the most expensive players on their roster and trade away the pending free agents. If this were the 90's, or if I were Michael Bluth, I would throw a "not" in at the end of this previous sentence.

That's pretty much the opposite of a fire sale isn't it? If the Phillies were really having a fire sale they would keep Blanton, Pence, Victorino and get rid of the expensive long-term contracts. The Phillies didn't do this.

To me, the Phillies have been in violation of the best-interests-of-baseball clause.

Because they dared to cut their payroll during a two month span in order to replenish their farm system? I completely fail to see how a Top-5 payroll team choosing to make trades which will lower their payroll is not in the best interests of baseball.

But Selig seems more interested in his wild-card project as baseball enters the perilous weeks of the season.

He's probably more interested in his wild-card project because he is smart enough to know it doesn't hurt baseball for the Phillies to trade away players at the trade deadline.

When did being a baseball purist mean hating any type of change that occurs within baseball? First "purists" hate new statistics being used to evaluate players and now a purist like Jerry Green hates the trade deadline since he apparently doesn't believe MLB teams should have the ability to make roster moves as they see fit.


Fred Trigger said...

I like how his example of a great commissioner is Bowie Kuhn, the man who was constantly out smarted by Marvin Miller, and generally thought of as an idiot.

jacktotherack said...

Jerry Green should stop watching baseball. This is his thought process: You mean to tell me there are teams who are all but mathematically eliminated who are willing to trade older, expensive vets in exchange for younger talent in the interest of building to the future? THOSE FUCKING ASSHOLES!!! How dare a team try to run their organization in a logical manner!?!? How dare a team which realizes that they have no chance of winning a championship try to build a foundation for winning a title in the future? THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GAME!!

I don't know how a paper can employ a man to write about sports who has opinions like this. And like you said, the outright hypocrisy of taking the Phillies to task for shipping off players while not even acknowledging how the Tigers benefitted from the Hindenberg that is the Marlins franchise is insulting to the audience. Eat shit Jerry Green.

Side Note: I despise the 1 game playoff. To me it is fucking pointless to play a 162 game season and have your fate determined by 1 game. I wouldn't be opposed to adding the two additional playoff teams, but to do that you would probably have to shorten the season. And we know baseball would never do that because no sport in the world jacks off over the "sanctity" of their individual records like baseball does, nevermind the fact that some of those records have been rendered virtually meaningless because drug-addled mutants were allowed to slug 1000 HR's per season during the Steroid Era.

Bengoodfella said...

Fred, that's a good point. That is the exact same Bowie Kuhn.

Jack, I don't know how he can believe trading older, more expensive players isn't in the best interests of the game either. The audacity of a team to try and improve!

He's barely employed at this point. He writes a couple of articles a month from what I see. Either way, he doesn't mention the Marlins or the Mariners as teams who sell off players, probably because the Tigers benefited from that.

I don't like the one game playoff either. I despised it and now I am resigned to it. I don't see how more game after a 162 game season makes a difference. It is happening, so I have to get used to it. I think the season should be 154 games and then have another Wild Card with a five game playoff. But you are right, the owners won't shorten the season and we are stuck with a one game playoff. It seems pointless to me after a 162 game season. I made myself not hate it.

jacktotherack said...

I just hate how Selig is trying to manufacture the drama of a "Game 163" tiebreaker by shoehorning this one game playoff in there. I agree, tiebreakers are awesome. There have been some great ones over the years. But either let the regular season determine whether a one game playoff is necessary or actually implement an expansion of the playoff field. The method baseball has chose to employ seems half-assed and forced.

Anonymous said...

In some ways I do like the additional WC as there were no real benefits to winning the division in the past. This is why I am opposed to re-seeding in football. I believe that the Broncos and Seattle SHOULD have hosted Pitt and NO, respectively. If you don't like going on the road, then get it done and win your division. I would, however, like to see the WC round in baseball be at least a 3-game series. The way it is constructed now is basically "let's see who has a better ace." I know that we don't want the playoffs extending into November, but if we're going to add this extra WC round, it should at least be a series (like are played in the regular season), rather than a one game crapshoot.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, tiebreakers are awesome, but I feel like the entire season of 162 games doesn't need an additional game to decide a Wild Card winner. That being said, I'm resigned to it and won't complain in this space about the one game Wild Card. Unless the Braves lose in the one game Wild Card, then I may complain some. It seems needless to me, but there is no fighting it.

Anon, I would like to go 154 games and a 3 game WC at the very least. 5 games would be preferable to me, but the one game playoff does seem like "ace v. ace," which is exciting to watch, but if it is a 94-68 WC team against a 89-73 WC team it doesn't seem like a 94 win team got a fair shake. One game seems a bit too few games to play.

I'm not against re-seeding in football, but I can see an argument for why the Steelers should have hosted that game. I feel the same way about playoff re-seeding in the NFL as I do the 1 game WC. Both aren't changing, so I better live with it.

The MLB season is long as it is, but cutting the games by 8 and adding another 3-5 game series makes sense to me. Of course I'm not the one losing the revenue of 4 home games. It all comes down to money, but if I had my choice I would have a 3-5 game playoff between the two WC teams.