Very few of the comments posted to the previous thread have had major impact on my thoughts on the matter, but then nobody ever said I wasn't a stubborn person. Several detractors have thrown around words like "courtesy" while resorting to name-calling themselves, which is good for a chuckle. Frankly, the courtesy ended when the refusal to listen to rational argument began, and that David Pinto was compelled by Lanternjaw's trashing of his reputation with the charges of "unethical behavior" counts as pressure in my book. If anyone's ethics are questionable, it's Lanternjaw's. I will say that in the nearly three years I've been doing this, Pinto has shown himself to be one of the most ethical -- and professional, if such a term can be used -- bloggers around, and while we may differ on issues occasionally, you won't find too many people outside of the Red Sox Jihad who would say otherwise.
I do find it amusing that the "bandwagon" accusation about my Yankee fandom has been flying about. Hey guys, I've been writing entire articles about it for the past six years, so congratulations on your sleuthwork. I don't cotton to the pinstriped fundamentalists any more than I do the carmine-hosed ones, and I don't think Don Matttingly's going to be sending me more love letters than Curt Schilling.
To address a few of the comments directly:
* The guy who said I was "probably jealous that you aren't in SoSH" probably hasn't figured out that the site owners of that particular country-club aren't interested in Yankee fans (even bandowagoneering ones such as myself) as members. Insert the Groucho Marx line about clubs here. I'm not exactly universally loved at Baseball Primer, but this incident has made me appreciate their free and open exchange of ideas all the more.
* Sully -- thanks for the return visits and the epithets. "Dick" is my father's name, but he hasn't posted here yet, so I think you're barking up the wrong tree.
* Dirt Dog -- your post was relatively civil and I appreciate that, but if you're the same as the person who posted Will Carroll's open letter (which was leaked by a party as yet undetermined) on the front page of your site, then I'm guessing that civility was an exception, and your command of the concept of ethical behavior is lacking. By the way, I'm sure the Yankee counsel is quivering over your "will be dealt with accordingly" statements.
* The guy who apparently graduated from the same college -- I didn't wave my diploma around in this argument, so why did you? I don't recall ever meeting you during my years in Providence, so if you're not going to let me sing the alma mater with you at Campus Dance, I'll just have to get on with my life.
* The "Jamie Moyer changeup to the ass" line is a great one, especially as he's gone 119-55 since the Sox traded him for Darren Bragg back in 1996. Given that I'm rehabbing from a torn labrum, it's probably a more accurate gauge of my pitching speed if not ability. Hey, fastballs, changeups, whatever gets them out.
What I've just excerpted above is probably going to generate an angry letter from the moderators of Sons of Sam Horn, a discussion board for rabid Red Sox fans to which marquee acquisition Curt Schilling began paying late-night visits during trade talks back in November. To which I say, BRING IT ON.
A few days ago one of my cohorts in the blogging world, David Pinto of Baseball Musings, ran an excerpt from a post in which Schilling made "disparaging comments about Rob Neyer" [it's the seventh one down -- here it is on its own; those who dare to hyperlink individual posts take note of my technique]:
"STats have their applications in the game, no one knows that more than me, but a media guy who's writing career is pretty much founded on these new stats and has a legion of followers, a guy like Neyer on ESPN, I tend to have more dislikes, than likes of. I'm not saying he's wrong, or right, just that he talks about the numbers as they pertain to future performance almost as if it's an absolute. Oh I know he always inserts the italicized "maybe" and "potentially", but the tone of his writing suggests his belief lies more in what he is writing to be fact, than just trend and probability. I've seen him say things in the past about players, and be so far wrong it's ludicrous, but you do enough projecting, of enough people, and at some point you'll be right, or near right."
For excerpting a quote (I don't know for sure if I've selected the same one but it hardly matters), moderator Eric Christenson, a.k.a. "Lanternjaw," accused Pinto of unethical conduct and pressured him into removing that quote from his site, on the argument that what Schilling says in that forum is "off the record."
Think about that for a moment. Someone is posting something somewhere on the Internet, a medium which can be accessed all over the world by any slack-jawed yokel with a computer and a phone line, yet this person is naive enough to believe that his words, which are RECORDED FOR POSTERITY on a publicly viewable site and can be Googled, are somehow "off the record."
I don't buy that for a minute, and neither should you. But I'm going to back up a moment and return to the first statement. Schilling aimed his request at "members of the media" who have first-person access to him during the baseball season, not at bloggers or webmasters. Those reporters, who depend on that access to do their jobs correctly during the baseball season, have respected his wishes, so far as I can tell. For better or worse, the blogosphere is not "the media," and thus Schilling's statement is not aimed there. So what Pinto did or what I've done is not out of line. By the commonly held standards of the Internet, this would constitute fair use. I have not changed the quotation, I have cited its source, and I have hyperlinked it so that others may see its original context, which itself is a matter of public record.
Schilling's experiment with posting to SoSH is a fascinating one, placing one of the game's most outgoing and outspoken players in the grasp of its most cyber-savvy fan base. I once rooted hard for him, back when he was a member of the '93 Phillies, a slovenly bunch of misfits and dirt dogs who nearly won a World Series. But my feelings shifted a few years later when he added the role of locker-room GM to his title, lobbying hard for a trade out of Philly (not that I'm a fan), and turned to downright loathing ever since he wore purple and teal to the 2001 World Series. I hate him even more now that he's wearing a pair of Red Sox.
But that double hatred -- combining all of my schadenfreude into one low monthly payment, as I like to say -- isn't what's coloring this response. Will Carroll reminded everyone the other day never to "write angry" and I spent much of Thursday trying to resist the poison pen in favor of a more rational response. I used twelve-letter words elsewhere and I'm not so proud of that, but I stopped myself from doing damage to the high standards to which I hold myself here and to supporting a cause in which I believe.
Whether Curt Schilling is ranting about an allegiance to an unpopular political doctrine or calling out Rob Neyer for inaccuracies is beside the point. What Schilling has said is by definition on the record, and for him to expect NOT to be held accountable is hopelessly naive and a perversion of the medium's purpose. If Sons of Sam Horn wants to keep him "off the record," they should put him behind a members-only firewall and then bring the hammer down on anybody who violates their terms of service, in the same way that, to use an example, Baseball Prospectus might do if I ran a bunch of lengthy quotes from Joe Sheehan's latest column or even my ownarticles there -- that's intellectual property to which they own the rights. SoSH's content is not behind a curtain like BP's content is, it's right out there for anybody to see, and that's a huge difference. You have to be a member to post there, but you don't have to be one to read what's already been written.
Still, that is not even the issue which made my blood boil on Thursday. What did so was Christenson/Lanternjaw's request. Pinto decided to comply with it and is apparently content to let the matter pass without further public comment so as not to draw more attention to SoSH.
But some things are wrong and deserve to be called out rather than quietly dismissed, and intimidation in the name of censorship is one of them. Always. Whether it's regarding the exposure of corruption in the halls of government or a trivial discussion about baseball, nobody has a right to tell me what I can't write or say so long as I'm not committing libel or plagiarizing material. The writing in question is publicly viewable and is fair game for fair usage, and Pinto's site, or mine, are beyond the jurisdiction of SoSH. I challenge them to find a lawyer who would tell us otherwise. If Steven Goldman didn't have to take his Schilling quotes off of YES in his latest Pinstriped Bible, then I can guess that the Yankees counsel isn't too worried, and they understand the laws about this far better than I do.
I would rather see the Schilling experiment ended and SoSH go down in flames or have them pay somebody to install a closed system than to see ANY BLOGGER told what we can and cannot link to so long as it is done within the spirit of fair use and other ethical standards. On this I am uncompromising, and I make no apology for standing up to those who would try to prevent me or any of my peers from doing the same.
As I've said before, I think the Schilling experiment is a fascinating one, and I hope that he's just the first of many players to delve into such contact. But that said, he must play by the same rules the rest of us do, and if he can't do that without fanboy thugs bending over backwards to zealously protect their exclusive access by intimidating others, then he and the site which is hosting him should take their ball and go home.
Big Red Cliff has a quick ID of the other bodies who washed ashore, including Joe Girardi, a member of the Amazing Torrealba Backstop family, and the man with the all-time greatest name in baseball history: Homer Bush. Cliff points out that the Yanks DFA'd Fernando Seguinol, who would have made a better complement to Jason Giambi than Tony Clark, and that a 25-year-old cornerman named Jeff Deardorff might be a sleeper in the Brian Myrow for Third darkhorse race. Some interesting projections from Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA weighted mean spreadsheet for AVG/OBP/SLG:
Veddy interesting, though obviously that's just one system's opinion. When I first posted this stuff absent the PECOTA data, Cliff drew my attention to the fact that he was advocating Clark over Seguignol. But that's typical Proven Veteranitis thinking which has left the Yankees with a craptacular bench for several years now, and I'd rather see them give the unknown a shot for a change. As for third base, my preference would be for the OBP guy, but Deardorff couldn't possibly be worse with the leather than Myrow, could he?
Really, it had nothing to do with being clever, and a lot more to do with being up at 3:00 am with stomach flu. There is such a thing as a 6-4-2 double play, but they're damn rare. I wanted this to be 6-4-3 but mistyped a key and didn't catch it until this morning. By that time, I realized there already was a cobwebbed blog here with that name. Anyway, Jon Weisman figured it works at two levels: first, 6-4-2, given that the coverage is of two teams, and a 6-4-2 double play -- rare but very exciting. Whether "rare but very exciting" ever describes this blog remains to be seen, but here I am, world.
Score a point for originality, and another for chutzpah; it's not every fan who feels comfortable talking about both teams in the same town without complete disdain for one. But Rob's story is one to which yours truly can relate: he grew up on the Dodgers of Tommy Lasorda and the Longest Running Infield, but lost interest at some point (for him it was before the '88 miracle) and then watched them sink into the mediorcrity of the Fox era. Meanwhile, he was re-energized by the Angels' championship run in 2002, bought a ticket package, and voilΰ -- now he's got a pair of teams to keep tabs on.
He's not just keeping tabs, he's running up the tab; Rob's racked up 15 entries in two days, apparently without sleeping: he's got posts at 2:36 AM, 3:10, 3:44, 4:16... Either he's an insomniac or he hasn't fixed the time setting in Blogger (or maybe he's just pretty sly and doesn't want his boss to catch him posting on company time, wink wink). Most of the entries are short, but he's got some interesting notes on Dodger GM Dan Evans' plight as Frank McCourt takes over the team, including his ill-fated pursuit of Vlad Guerrero. Under the gracious McCourt, Evans is now interviewing to keep his own job, which is patently ridiculous given how well he's rebuilt the Dodger farm system and operated with at least two limbs tied behind his back in the form of predecessor Kevin Malone's biggest mistakes.
On the replacment front, the A's aren't letting presumptive favorite Billy Beane interview for the job, and ex-Mariners' GM Pat Gillick is content to counsel former Angel and Dodger exec Bill Bavasi as he undoes what good Stand Pat did in Seattle. Other names surfacing are ex-Red GM Jim Bowden, Expo GM Omar Minaya (who can't get permission to interview), Texas assistant GM Grady Fuson, (ditto) and A's assistant GM Paul DePodesta, often hailed as the next Beane. Rob fears the latter's candidacy: "I would be nervous about a Beane disciple in the Dodgers henhouse as it gives Beane another dumping ground for his failures."
Scanning the Dodger-related headlines, there's been news the past couple of days that the team is in the mix for Greg Maddux, which would probably be a huge enough coup for Evans that he might save his job. Maddux isn't the same pitcher he once was -- his 3.96 ERA last season is almost dead-on with his DIPS ERA of 4.00, but in Dodger Stadium that would probably shrink back down to its normal size. Just as importantly, it would give Evans some depth from which to deal a pitcher -- perhaps Odalis Perez -- for a live bat.
A few more things to mention...
Speaking of Dodger fans of my generation who lost the plot and now find their loyalties dispersed elsewhere, Michael Hirota's got a new blog called The Sports Retort which covers (as you would guess) more than just baseball. Mike's on the other side of The Great East Coast Rivalry now, but we had a nice long email exchange, and he's awright too. It's nice to know my work can connect across that rivarly, because right now, I'm spoiling for a fight over this.
Mike's got an interesting perspective on the Sox pickup of Ellis Burks -- who was drafted by them 21 years ago and played his first six seasons in Beantown -- as a bat off of the bench or for platoon play. The guy can surely hit. But there's another angle, too, one that Alex Belth astutely picks up on: Boston's notoriously sordid legacy of dealing with black players vis-ΰ-vis Howard Bryant's book Shut Out. For what it's worth, my take is that the move is more numbers-oriented -- Theo Epstein doesn't strike me as a crusader -- but I think the story behind Burks' treatment in Boston is one worth re-examining.
Another new blog comes from Tom Gorman, who I met at the Winter Meetings in N'awlins. Fog Ball is actually a joint effort of Gorman and three other diehard Giants fans. Right now they're raging against out-machine Neifi Perez while lauding his defensive efficiency and using Win Shares to sort it all out. Check it out if you swing from that side of the plate.
Last night I had the pleasure of my second appearance on Baseball Prospectus Radio, hosted by my man Will Carroll. This time the topic was a roundtable on New York baseball, though the slate was decidedly Yankee-themed: Joe Sheehan of B-Pro, Steven Goldman, who writes Pinstriped Bible for YES, Alex Belth of Bronx Banter and myself. One of the other guys commented that our twenty-minute conversation could have gone on for eight hours, and I quite agree; it's hella fun picking brains with those guys. The spot will air this weekend and hopefully I'll have better luck getting a link to it than I did my first segment.
The move, which was smoothly and classily handled by both sides-- no buyouts, no penalties -- allows Henson to pursue his NFL career and chase the two Super Bowl rings earned by former Michigan teammate Tom Brady. Say what you will about the wisdom of the Yanks letting Henson chase his pinstriped dream in the first place; the six-year/$17 million contract was constructed in a way that kept them from real damage:
I'd say they got off pretty light compared to what's gonna happen when the rent comes due on the aged Giambi, Posada, Jeter, and Sheffield in 2006 ($64.5 mil right there).
On the topic of Yankee third basemen, loyal reader John Chu asked about Angels third baseman Troy Glaus, about whom the notorious Phil Rogers floated a mιnage ΰ trois trade balloon the other day. Rogers' deal (which smacks of severely-addled wishcasting) would send Glaus to the Yanks in exchange for B- and C-grade prospects (which describes most Baby Bombers), while the Angels get infielder Jose Valentin and the Sox get Darren Erstad and Jarrod Washburn or two cyborgs resembling them.
Glaus, who hit 88 homers and drew over 200 walks in 2000-2001, is still just 27 (three years younger than Aaron Boone) and he's a year away from free agency (2004 salary: $9.55 million), but he's coming off of a rotator cuff tear which wasn't surgically repaired. The injury, which hurt him both at the plate and the field, ended his season last July. If healthy his offensive metrics compare favorably to Boone:
However, on defense, Boone gets the edge on a less-than-100% Glaus, and even the edge on a healthy one:
FRAA (2003): Boone 13, Glaus -5
Rate2 (from BPro, career normalized rate at 3B, with 100 at average): Boone 107 (seven runs better than average per 100 games), Glaus 100 (average)
It should be noted that since those two monster seasons, Glaus hasn't fared well; his 2003 line (.248/.343/.464 looks a little too close to his 2002 (.250/.352/.453) for comfort.
Injury Pro Will Carroll tells me that he doesn't have a recent report on Glaus, but he says that in early January the shoulder was "shaky" and he "wasn't throwing to first well". Until Glaus proves himself healthy, for the kind of moolah the Yanks would have to pay, I think he's a no-go. Valentin's probably a better and more realistic short-term option, but that's a story for another day.
Over the past couple of days, several readers who saw my salary piece on the Yankees pointed me to Dugout Dollars, a blog by Michael Srihari devoted to payroll details -- and I mean down to the nitty-gritty -- for all 30 teams. Since the MLB Contracts page hasn't been updated in a few blue moons, this new site is a nice addition to the ranks. Srihari runs separate tabs for each team's salary-cap... er, luxury-tax calculations (which are based on average annual value, a bullshit way of penalizing the Yankees for backloading several contracts) and actual amounts, adds estimated benefits, and computes total payroll based on these figures. I wonder if he can pull those obscured revenue-sharing figures out of Bud Selig's ass.
Turning to the Yanks, Srihari and I differ on certain minor details, mainly in how we divvied up the bonus money; MLB Contracts provided details that distinguished lump sums from prorated payments, and I don't know that Srihari has done the same, but that's a minor quibble. A more major one is that because he's porting spreadsheets from Excel, his site is very difficult to see unless you're using Internet Explorer (which I try to avoid whenever possible). Even in IE, it's often necessary to view text at a smaller size than your browser's default. Srihari tells me he's "moving to something more robust and browser-independent like PHP over MySQL" once the flurry of offseason activity dies down.
Speaking of the following the Yankees, I'll call your attention to a relatively new blog called Yankees, Mets, and the Rest which provides some wise(acre) commentary focused primarily on the two New York teams. I'll give the floor to resident Yank fan Scott: "This may be the most sensible deal any team and player have ever made," he says about the end of the Henson contract.
Meanwhile, Scott's partner in crime, Vinny (who does the Mets), gets points for calling my attention to this Bill Madden piece in the New York Daily News about agent Scott Boras. I had stopped reading Madden last season because I found his frothing at the mouth over Sammy Sosa's corked bat so over-the-top ("Selig must order X-rays for the four bats... that he donated to the Hall of Fame. And, if it turns out any of those were corked, Sosa should be banned from baseball for life and all his home runs be expunged from the record..."). Give the guy a freakin' rabies shot already...
But Madden does a nice job of laying the lumber on one of pro sports' most distasteful characters, pointing out how Boras has cost his high-profile clients big money with his bluster, scaring away good, winning teams that were inclined to sign them to realistic contracts. Note that Greg Maddux is still homeless, that Pudge Rodriguez is going from first to worst by signing a historically disadvantageous deal with a club that threatened all-time infamy last year, that A-Rod languishes in last place as a prisoner of the most lucrative deal ever, and that several more Bore-Ass clients had to grin and bear it when the new economic realities smacked them across the forehead like a two-by-four. Madden also points out that Boras has lost nine out of his last 10 arbitration cases. Talk about consolidating all of your schadenfreude into one low monthly payment.
I've mentioned a couple of new blogs today, and they seem to be poping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm lately. Aaron Gleeman has an insightful look at how the blogosphere has changed in the 18 months since he started, and some of the positives and negatives associated with the phenomenon.
If you're like me, you probably spend hours a week looking up the stats of baseball players. Finding which site to go to for which measure is a fine art that can save essential minutes when pulling together a numbers-heavy piece or quickly refuting somebody else's argument. The boys at Batter's Box have put together a brilliant, comprehensive survey of the landscape called "The Where's Where of Baseball Stats" that's worthy of a permanent bookmark (I've already added it to The Roster at left). My only quibble is that they left Retrosheet out of the picture. Where else are you going to get old box scores and historical splits?
All amounts (except where indicated) are actual dollars rather than averages over the life of the deal (without deferrals), although signing bonuses have been prorated according to the best information available. Parentheses denote players no longer with the team whose salaries the Yankees are paying, at least in part. An "m" after the amount denotes a minor-league deal, which has been included in the total although it's not guaranteed. When two figures are separated by a "/" that means the club holds an option with a buyout; year-by-year totals include those buyouts and not the optional salaries.
2004: Jeter $18, Brown $15, Mussina $14, Sheffield $13, Williams $12, Giambi $10, Contreras $9, Posada $9, Vazquez $9, Rivera $8.89, Matsui $7, Soriano $5.4, Karsay $5, Gordon $3.625-est, Lofton $3.1, Quantrill $3, (Weaver $2.6), Lieber $2.45, Henson $2.2, Heredia $1.8, (Hammond $1.2), A. Hernandez $1.0, Sierra $1.0, Cairo $0.9, Houston $0.9-m, Flaherty, $0.775, Clark $0.75, Wilson $0.7, Bragg $0.4-m Total: $161.69 million Not included: Boone ($5.75, likely to be terminated), White (arbitration), Bush (minor league deal)
2005: Jeter $19, Mussina $17, Brown $15, Sheffield $13, Williams $12, Posada $12, Giambi $11, Vazquez $11, Contreras $8, Matsui $8, Lieber $8/$0.25, Karsay $5. Henson $3.8, Gordon $3.625-est, Lofton $3.1, Quantrill $3, Heredia $1.8. Total: $146.575 million
2006: Jeter $20, Giambi $18, Mussina $17, Williams $15/$3.5, Posada $13.5, Sheffield $13, Vazquez $12, Contreras $9, Karsay $6.5/$1.25. Henson $6.0. Quantrill $3.6/0.4, Heredia $2.5/0.2. Total: $113.85 million Not included: Gordon (option/buyout?)
2007: Jeter $21, Giambi $21, Mussina $17/$1.5, Sheffield $13/c.o., Vazquez $13, Posada $12/$4. Total: $60.5 million Not included: Sheffield (buyout)
2008: Jeter $21, Giambi $21. Total: $42 million
2009: Jeter $21, Giambi $22/$5. Total: $26 million
That's over half a billion dollars ($550.615 million to be exact) in guaranteed payments, with $388.925 million committed beyond 2004. It's only money...