Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Short Goodbye...

I have both good news and sad news.  After talking with Josh and Corrye, I have made the decision to shut down BBIMH effective immediately.  As rewarding as it has been to write this blog for the past 4-1/2 months, I've decided to focus my attention on the new writing opportunities this space has afforded me.  As many of you know, I have been making regular contributions to the Red Sox blog Fire Brand of the American League for the past month or so.  I will continue to not only post articles every Wednesday and Friday over there, but also post my Weekend Round-Up of links every Sunday. 

Recently, I've been given another new writing opportunity.  I've been asked to join the writing staff at It's About the Money Stupid, the Yankee blog affiliate to the ESPN Sweet Spot network.  I will start writing for them, as well as continuing to write for Fire Brand, effective immediately with my first article being a reprint of my Fire Brand article "Will Jeter Rebound?"   While I'm not sure when that will post, I believe it will probably within the next couple of days.  This opportunity will allow me to express my thoughts on the Red Sox and Yankees in the appropriate spaces.  I am really looking forward to taking on both of these opportunities.  As far as I know, I'm in the unique position of being the only person to be a regular contributor at two Sweet Spot blogs, which is actually pretty cool.

In closing, I want to give a special thanks to Josh and Corrye for joining me in the endeavor.  While I will definitely miss writing with both you, I know that you will both influence my future writing just through our baseball discussions.  I also want to thank all of our regular readers, especially those who commented.  With each of you continuing to read every day, I felt compelled to continue you on with my writing.  Thank you for that. Lastly, thank you to everyone else who, while they may not have read this blog regularly, continued to support me in my decision to do so regardless. 

Despite what the title says, this isn't really a good bye.  I will still be around--just at a different location.  I hope each of you will follow me to both Fire Brand and IIATMS.  Both are top notch sites that put out a lot of great material.  Also, feel free to comment or email! 

Goodbye for now!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

John Henry Couldn't Outrace Selig and Neither Should Hank and Randy

One of my favorite classes in high school was American History, mostly because of my teacher Mr. Meier but also because of the content. I was particularly fascinated by the Bill Of Rights, one of our country's most lauded and important documents. Like many of my fellow classmates I'd already heard about the right to free speech but I'd never heard its most important caveat: free speech is only protected if there is not a clear and present danger resulting from said speech. (Yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater is the example most often cited.)
Free speech and "clear and present danger" applies to many aspects of life--even baseball. Whether you agree or disagree with Randy Levine and Hank Steinbrenner's recent comments about revenue sharing is besides the point. Do people like Steinbrenner, Levine, and even Red Sox owner John Henry have a right to voice their opinion? Absolutely. After all it is their constitutional right.
But there are always consequences.
John Henry made comments in 2009 to the Boston Globe regarding revenue sharing. He stated that "seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball's highest operating profits" received close to 1 billion dollars. For exercising his constitutional right, Henry was promptly fined $500,000 by Commissioner Bud Selig.
Excessive? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely.
Listen, even though Henry's words to the Boston Globe were honest and accurate, they still presented a clear and present danger, not in the governmental sense but definitely in the United States of Major League Baseball. My opinion from an industry standpoint is that if a company continues to fail time and time again financially, they should go out of business. But this is baseball not corporate America. The league and the fans can't afford to have five markets suddenly contracted just because they didn't turn a profit. That's why revenue sharing is so important. A free market capitalistic MLB is a pipe dream. (Some might say the same is true of the current USA with all the bailouts that have been occurring, but hey that's a post for another time and another blog.) Is it "welfare" like Steinbrenner and Levine said? That's a little harsh. From an economic standpoint it is slightly socialist but I think very necessary.
As Craig Calcattera pointed out today "Bud Selig's job is to keep the labor peace and keep the PR machine running smoothly." Even though I can't stand Selig as a commissioner, I totally agree with Calcattera's sentiments. Selig cannot allow inflammatory comments like Henry's, Steinbrenner's, and Levine's go without consequences. The bottom line is that this is the deal that the owners agreed upon. If they don't like it, change it the next time the issue needs to be addressed. Making comments bashing the system only undermines the system that is already in place and sows unnecessary dissension among the rank and file.
So fair warning Hank and Randy: you're about to get fined. And I'm pretty sure Selig won't take payment in government cheese.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Please Pardon this Brief Interuption...

Oh, I had such grand plans for today.  I was going to spend all afternoon and evening writing here, and then I got an email from Evan Brunell telling me that ESPN wanted us to contribute articles to the Sweet Spot tomorrow.  Hopefully, you guys understand.  My article (topic unknown) will probably run tomorrow afternoon, so check it out.  Also, I'll post the link once it uploads.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Round-Up - 2/27/2011

Sorry these links are a little late today.  I had to go work off the lobster and brie grilled cheese, duck fat fries, and two heavy, hearty stouts I had last night, at the gym.  It was delicious and definitely worth it.  Without further adieu, here are the links.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun with WAR graphs

I have a serious baseball fetish.  I love playing around with WAR graphs on Fangraphs.  This first one is of a few of the great second basemen over the last 40 years:  Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, Ryne Sandberg, and Roberto Alomar.  Interesting thing to note...Whitaker and Grich produced higher WAR totals for their career than Sandberg and Alomar.  Somehow, the former fell off of the Hall of Fame ballot after their first year of eligibility, while the latter are currently enshrined.  While I'm not saying Sandberg and Alomar shouldn't be the Hall of Fame (Alomar for sure and Sandberg maybe), but Grich and Whitaker certainly deserved a better fate.

Do you remember those debates 10-15 years ago about which shortstop was going to have the better career:  A-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, or Tejada?  Well, it turns out that debate was pretty silly right from the beginning.  A-Rod far out classed everyone in terms of performance, while Nomar was dead even with Jeter until injuries derailed his promising career.  As for Tejada?  Well, he was pulling up the rear for quite a while, but finally, he's caught up with the third place member of the pack (Nomar).  It only took him six years to do.

This last WAR graph includes Edgar Martinez, Tony Perez, Andre Dawson, and Jim Rice.  The latter three are Hall of Famers, while Edgar Martinez is on the outside looking in.  Martinez, unlike the three undeserving Hall of Fame inductees listed above, not only beat them in terms of career WAR, but did so while playing most of his career playing DH.  Every season, he he was at at least a one win disadvantage (the difference between the DH and a corner OF spot), and somehow he managed to beat them all.  How did he do it?  He actually was a great hitter, unlike the other three who were great hitters by reputation. 

That's all for now.  Next Saturday, I'll post some more fun WAR graphs, which hopefully will spur some discussion.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cabrera Claims He's Not An Alcoholic; Jim Leyland Claims He's Never Smoked

Ok, obviously the second part of that title isn't true but I'm sure you see the point I'm trying to make here.
Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitting first basemen in baseball. He's coming off arguably the best season of his career. In 2010 Cabrera batted .328 with 38 HR and led the league in RBI with 126. Throw in a league leading OBP of .420, 111 runs scored, and an incredible WAR of 6.9 and you have a more than a valid argument that Miguel Cabrera and not Josh Hamilton deserved the MVP. (Cabrera finished second.) There is no question that Cabrera is a unique talent.

He's also in a state of denial more massive than our national debt.

Upon arriving for Tigers spring training in Lakeland, Florida this morning, Cabrera immediately faced the media and issued a public apology for his February 16th arrest for driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Thankfully he's planning to undergo treatment through the MLB's players union. That's certainly encouraging news but what was perplexing was this statement from Cabrera:
"I have it under control. It was just a bad decision. I plan to continue with treatment. I made a mistake this time, and all I can do is continue treatment."
Cabrera basically said everything except, "I can stop whenever I want to." This is a textbook reaction from someone who doesn't want to admit that he's an alcoholic. I'm sorry but when you get caught driving drunk without a license (he only has a permit), resist arrest, and drink liquor straight from the bottle in front of the cops, it's not just a "mistake."

What's sad is that this is not the first incident for Cabrera. On October 3rd, 2009 Cabrera spent the entire night binge drinking, got into an altercation with his wife, and had to be taken in for questioning. Just last August TV station WXYZ obtained a police report involving Cabrera. Said reported alleged that Cabrera got into a verbal confrontation with people in a restaurant outside Townsend. He threatened physical violence and even claimed he had a gun.

And now we have this latest incident. What's befuddling is that Cabrera also stated the February 16th incident "was out of the ordinary." Anyone with a modicum of self-awareness can see that this is patently not the case. There is a chain events involving Miguel Cabrera that establishes a pretty strong pattern of abuse.

On a positive note, the Detroit Tigers front office is apparently willing to do whatever it takes to see Cabrera clean and sober. Treatment for Cabrera will continue throughout the 2011 season. Cabrera is in the midst of an 8 year $152.3 million contract so it's clear the Tigers' interest is financial as well as personal. And why shouldn't it be? Detroit has invested a lot of time and dollars in the 27 year old first baseman. I believe they've earned the right to intervene and Cabrera seems to be on board. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski even stated that the Tigers were willing to allow Cabrera a companion on the road, ala Josh Hamilton, to help him steer clear of drugs and alcohol.

However, until Cabrera stops saying he's made "mistakes" and admits he has a problem, all the assistance and support in the world won't amount to a pile of dirt on the pitcher's mound.

Article at ESPN has been Posted

Hey guys!  I just wanted to tell you that my article was posted over at the ESPN Sweet Spot.  Here's the link!  I hope you enjoy!

Thanks again guys for all of the support that you've given me over the past four plus months!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kenny Williams Calls Pujols Demands "Asinine"

Never one to shy away from expressing his opinion, White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams shared his thoughts on the idea of paying Albert Pujols $30M per season. 
“For the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about 30 million dollar players, I think it’s asinine,” Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that aren’t going to stop the insanity, I’m all for it.”
So it's asinine to spend $30M per season on a perennial 7 WAR player (Pujols), but it's a good thing to spend $26M per season on two players (Konerko and Dunn) who are not only older, but will only provide 4-5 WAR per season.  Gotcha. 

I really wish these "the sky is falling" arguments with regards to Pujols's contract demands would go away.  These same cries were around when A-Rod signed his landmark 10 year $252M deal in 2000 as well.  Do you know how many $200M+ deals have been signed since?  One.  One!  A-Rod's 10 year $275M contract in 2008.  If Pujols signs a comparable contract, I think it's safe to say that it won't change the landscape of baseball's financial structure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Michael Young Video and Other News

If you haven't seen this video of a mother telling her three year old son that his favorite baseball player, Michael Young, will probably be traded from his favorite team, the Rangers, you should.  It's as adorable as it is heartbreaking.  At first he doesn't understand what his mother is trying to tell him.  Once he figures it out, the little boy becomes both deeply distressed and saddened by the news.  I think it's safe to say that baseball lost a young fan--no pun intended.  Hope you enjoy the video!

Also, it might be a little quiet content wise over the next couple of days.  For those of you who don't know, as a columnist for Fire Brand of the American League, I've been given an opportunity to write an article for ESPN.  Originally, my article was supposed to about Derek Jeter's prospects for returning to form, but that article proved to be too long for ESPN.  Instead, that article will run at Fire Brand on Friday morning.  In it's place, I'm putting together a commentary piece on Hank Steinbrenner's recent comments.  If you're interested, you'll be able to read it on Thursday afternoon at the ESPN Sweet Spot on the MLB page.

Greinke Not Shy About Thoughts On the Press

After reading about Zack Greinke's comments regarding the press today, I couldn't help thinking about the South Park episode where Cartman pretends to have Tourette's Syndrome. During the episode he said, "I can say anything and people will call me brave." Obviously, Greinke's battle with social anxiety disorder is completely legitimate and has been chronicled in the media ad nauseum. I have to admit though there are certain advantages to SAD like say for example being able to say this:
"...then random people come and waste my time talking every day. It takes eight minutes to get a real question out because they're like buttering me up. Then they get to the question and it's a stupid question. So it's a waste of 10 minutes and in that 10 minute time I don't get to do what I needed to do."
Now far be it from me, someone who has suffered from depression off and on over the last fourteen years, to criticize a person with SAD but I think Greinke's comments are just a tad too honest. The media has been extremely accomadating when it comes to meeting his demands for pre-scheduled press meetings and throwing up softball questions. For Greinke to come out and bite the hand that writes his box score stats is a little insulting. Greinke's statements are a perfect example of why he could never have pitched in New York, where the press considers SAD to be passing on a third Scotch and soda at Brandy Library on North Moore Street. Sometimes you need to engage the filter quicker Zack.

Contrastingly the media should read Greinke's comments as "get to the friggin' point!" I know the media has to be sensitive to Greinke's condition, but sometimes there is a thin line between business and BS. If the media has a direct question for Greinke then just...ask...him. I'm sure Greinke would appreciate Milwaukee reporters being candid. That way he won't have to issue statements that cut deeper than an inside fastball. Brewers' beat reporters won't have to butter him up either. A little Crisco will do just nicely.