Thursday, August 24, 2006

The backlash

It seems that the Sox have worn out the welcome that was extended during the cowboy and idiot era, when it seemed the whole of America wanted to jump on the Red Sox train.

I can understand (but not agree) with the way the local media have jumped all over the Sox after the past weekend, but it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action. I don't mean to turn my contributions on this blog into a "you will never believe what hack X has said today" but this really is fertile territory at the moment - clearly a lot of bad-will exists, and this past weekend is being used as the excuse to let it all air - needless to say, not many of these stories were being published as the Red Sox stayed in first place through the first half of the season...

There are two that I want to comment on - one for the general comment that I want to address, one I want to get into specifically.

The first was Buster Olney's piece on Monday under the headline "Red Sox putting money into team?" (behind the ESPN Insider wall) where Buster, after specifically stating that "George Steinbrenner has rightly been criticized over the years for exorbitant spending", basically goes on to state that the Sox should be making those same spending decisions if they want to compete - because while they may not have the Yankees resources "the Red Sox have money".

As Sox fans it is difficult to complain about inequality in baseball when our team has, and uses, the massive resources that it has at its disposal, but when are baseball writers going to wake up to the fact that we do not compete on an even playing field? That $65 million, no matter how you cut it, cannot simply be overcome by being the brightest guy in class?

The second one is astonishing - written by Jon Heyman - As the Monster turns details 'all' that has gone wrong in Boston and the glee apparent in sticking the knife is palpable... and explicit at times.

The key section for me -
Big mistakes were made. Boston never should have let Johnny Damon go, replaced him with serial outmaker Coco Crisp (1 for 19 against the Yankees) or, worse still, compounded the errors by giving Crisp a three-year, $14.5 million extension. Epstein never should have traded viable starter Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena, eventually leaving a virtual tryout camp in the rotation, one that continues to fail.

Epstein's inability to make an impact deadline deal left the team shorthanded, and perhaps even depressed. Some think he overshot in his attempts. "If you'll notice, except Arizona [which made a waiver deal to get Livan Hernandez], none of the Moneyball teams made a trade,'' one critic said. "They all make trades too complex. One-for-one isn't in their vocabulary. They'll say, 'I'll get you this player' and they don't even have this player.'' And another critic added, "It's very difficult to make a trade with these guys. They're always trying to trade guys they don't actually have.''
The bile that is evident in that section is incredible - no evidence to support the numerous assertions is offered, it seems simply stating them is fact enough - some of it directed directly at Epstein, but some of it, more interestingly, is wrapped into a anti-Moneyball statement.

Part of the media game is clearly to build up a story, and as much mileage can be gained knocking down the story as there is in building it in the first place, but wow, the worm, not the monster, has turned quickly!

1 threw a strike:

At 12:49 am, Blogger s1c said...

First off except for Gammons, I think as a whole most of the radio, print and tv guys hate the moneyball people. Just listen to Mike Fran. on WFAN sometime when he goes after Billy Beane etc. Moneyball has its advantages, but sometimes I think you have to discard those advantages.

The example I like to use is the Orlando Cabrera vs Renteria. Everybody seems to forget that OC and the Rent were both free agents after the 2004 World Series. The mistake that OC made was he said he wanted Renteria type money, well, if you just looked at the gold gloves, the batting average etc., why give OC the same as you would Renteria when you could have Renteria.

Eagle eye hindsight says that this was a mistake, but the mistake was not because Rent failed miserably, but because you had a shortstop who had proved that he could handle Boston, who could fit in with the Manny's, the Ortiz's, the Schillings, etc. Moneyball said Rent, and that was the way they went.

Numbers for OC after 2004 season
BA .268 OBA .316 Slug% .409 OPS.725 in 921 games.

Renteria's numbers after 2004
BA .289 OBA .346 Slug% .400 OPS.746 in 1296 games.


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