Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jay Outdoes Himself, Literally

Okay, so I was working on a brief from Mariotti's online column, which was something about the Bulls being quitting losers (even though they've had horrendous starts the past 3 years and still made the playoffs). I couldn't even finish doing the writeup before Jay wrote something even worse. I should have known. He's the first person to bitch about Chicago not trading for or signing a star player, regardless of whether or not the player is actually worth it. And here we are, one day after the White Sox "failed" to sign Torii Hunter at a gross price, and I forgot to expect a miserable piece of shit from Jay? Shame on me! No, fuck that. Shame on you, Jay.

Sox too cheap for bidding wars

Here's the thing about bidding wars, Jay. When teams compete to sign the same free agent, offers keep rising until one team bites the bullet and pays too much. The Angels are the suckers here, especially because they have Vlad, G-Matt, 10-RBI team-personifying superhero, and Willits (who has a tremendous ability to walk for a guy with zero power, by the way). Unless they use this surplus to trade for Miguel Cabrera, this is nothing short of a disastrous waste of resources.

Side note: I've heard that the Angels are actually going to keep Anderson in the outfield and squeeze Willits and Matthews (probable DH) with this signing. What dolts. They paid $90M to replace Willits' 4.0 WARP1 with Hunter's 5.5 WARP1. Good move, Angels.

Shocked? What is Ken Williams so "shocked" about? In the Reinsdorfian tradition, the White Sox underbid for a major free agent, making their fans believe they were going guts-out after Torii Hunter when, in the context of a rich 2007 marketplace, they merely were half-buttocksing it.

Hunter should not be making $16M a season. There. I said it. The proposed 5 year, $80M deal by the White Sox is a little high for someone who gets on base below league average and is (CONTROVERSIAL POINT ALERT!!!) a middle-of-the-road defensive CF despite flashy catches (since 2002, nothing special doing on the FRAA front).

Then they told the world about their offer, a dumb poker move that let the Angels swoop in on Thanksgiving Eve and sign Hunter to a five-year, $90 million deal.

Which makes the Angels total suckers. Tony Reagins is trying way too hard to be the best GM in history, IMO.

Shocking? Try embarrassing.

Try "not overspending for 5 wins per season".

Because once again, the Sox have shown they're full of stuffing when it comes to bidding wars. Deep down, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't want to win such battles, or he and Williams would have been more competitive for Hunter in a period when baseball is flush with wealth

Do you even care how much Hunter is actually worth? Suppose they don't win the "battle" for Carlos Silva by not offering him 5 years, $75M. Will that make the Sox pathetic too? (Silva was worth exactly the same as Hunter in 2007 by WARP1)

Don't you just love Reinsdorf? For two decades, he has been centrally involved in trying to build a better industry financially, but once that has been accomplished, he still refuses to play high-stakes, big-boy ball in a major city. You're better off not bidding for Hunter at all than losing him to a more pro-active franchise that makes you look, well, second-rate.

How does that make sense? Your bid jacks up the competition's offer and drains their resources! This isn't about avoiding embarrassment, Jay. This is a business, and success is measured by wins, not how much or little idiot columnists like yourself blast the moves of management. If you ran the team, you would splurge on every free agent out there and the team would be broke in seconds. Worse yet, you would trade away the entire farm system for overrated "stars", robbing the team of its future as well as its resources. You appeal constantly to the mindless fan who doesn't care how much a big name costs, as long as he lands in Chicago. This entire fucking article is just you pressing the "Look at me! Look at me!" button.

"They shocked me," Hunter said of his new club. "I wanted to be with these guys. I thought maybe they didn't need a center fielder like me but they shocked the world. I love these guys. I want to say thank you, guys, for choosing me. I'm honored.

Even Torii understood that the Angels had no need for a CF.

"I've watched the Angels play for a long time. They play the game the right way, they play hard-nosed baseball every day."

And now he's shifted into mindless broadcaster cliche mode!

As opposed to the Sox who suffered the worst offense in the major leagues last season, a plague that won't be helped by the consolation signing of set-up reliever Scott Linebrink.

Damn you Scott Linebrink for not improving the offense! (Linebrink's 4 years, $19M will almost certainly yield more wins per dollar than Hunter's contract)

Hunter's .334 OBP wouldn't do much to solve the out-making tendencies of the White Sox either.

Consider this the latest significant setback in a bloody, 17-month Sox slide, which includes a 109-135 record since early July of 2006.

Poor Jay, he's been monotonously writing this crap for so long that he's forgotten the exact date!

It's JULY 2ND, 2006, Jay. Exactly 13 days after Ozzie Guillen called you a fag.

This is more confirmation that a star like Hunter, who fled Minnesota with the aim of winning a championship, thinks he has a better chance of achieving those goals in Anaheim than on the South Side.

1) This is the loosest definition of "star" I have ever seen. Torii Hunter was worth half as many wins as A-Rod last year. In that context, A-Rod's contract is a bargain compared to Hunter's, because his salary is less than twice Hunter's.

2) Really? We needed this to confirm for us that Hunter has a better chance of winning a championship with Anaheim, a team that made the playoffs last year, than the White Sox, a team that was one of the very worst in baseball? Thank you soooooo much for clarifying that, Jay!

The Angels have sustained a consistently high level since their World Series triumph five years ago, primarily because they have an elite manager in Mike Scioscia and a title-driven owner in Arte Moreno.

Mike Scioscia is 0% of the reason that the Angels have been consistently good. He bunts, hit-and-runs, and foolishly tries to steal bases to the extent that I think Scioscia actually likes when his players make unnecessary outs. Moreno, sure.

The Sox have a ditzy manager in Ozzie Guillen and an owner who likes to win but only at his price, though Reinsdorf has no problem charging top dollar at The Cell.

This is a blatant appeal to fans' desire to not pay high ticket prices. I've had this theory for a long time that Jay wants to be considered the voice of Chicago fans, even though all of them hate him.

And brace yourselves, Soxdom, because more surprises could be coming from the Angels at your expense. Earlier this week, Williams made a questionable move in dealing pitcher Jon Garland -- a skilled, durable starter entering his prime at 28 -- for Orlando Cabrera, a fine shortstop who, unfortunately, is 33 and becomes a free agent next offseason.

Apparently the fact that Jon Garland is also a free agent after next season is irrelevant!

In the Garland deal, all the Sox did was weaken their rotation, deplete their potential trade pool for Miguel Cabrera and pick up a veteran who might play here one season.

Jon Garland is a veteran that may have only played in Chicago for one more season.

I didn't get it when he re-signed Uribe, I didn't get it when he dealt Garland and I obviously don't get it now. Unless Williams pulls off the pipedream of Miguel Cabrera, giving him a half-Cabrera infield, his "Full go" offseason is stuck in the muck. No wonder he suddenly was shy when reached Thursday by the Sun-Times.

"What's to say?" he said of Hunter.

How about this?

He gone.


The last line of most of Jay's columns is some sort of attempt at biting cleverness. This is just a weak allusion to one of Hawk Harrelson's catch phrases. I'm disappointed, Jay. Even you can do better.

16 comments:

Tonus said...

As an Angels fan, this is depressing. Not only did we overpay for Hunter, now we are paying Mathews $10 million a season to be a DH/defensive replacement. What???

And Mike Scioscia has promoted the idea of "productive outs" in the past. Which makes me cringe. I think Moreno is a great owner, but his team is being crippled by a GM who doesn't know how to spend money and a manager with questionable ideas on how to run an offense. Sigh...

pnoles said...

Also, Reggie Willits is underrated, and he's losing playing time to this too. Yeah. I said it. A guy with no power is underrated. There was so much hype to him when he had like a .340 batting average, but since it sank below .300, he hasn't gotten much respect despite the fact that he OBPed .390 (approx). The Angels have too many outfielders and too many starters. If they don't decide to trade a starter, an outfielder, and a prospect for Miguel Cabrera, this will be simply a grotesque waste of resources.

Justin said...

Despite a heavy dose of his usual hyperbole, I think Jay actually makes a very valid point in this article. Specifically, that Kenny Williams constantly waxes on about the great off-season moves he is going to make (see, for example, his recent “big fish / we’re not done yet” comments), then is flabbergasted / appalled when is inevitably outbid for said “big fish”.
Some may say that refusing to pay the high cost of free agents (a.k.a. the market rate) is smart business, and I would certainly not advocate paying $90 MM for Torii Hunter, but, as they say, if you can’t walk the walk, then don’t talk the talk. As you might have guessed, I am a Cubs fan, but even an impartial observer would be annoyed by Kenny’s insistence on acting like he is the smartest and boldest GM in the league, then failing to back up his talk with action – unless, of course, you count signing an average middle reliever to a $20 MM contract.

Chris W said...

As you might have guessed, I am a Cubs fan, but even an impartial observer would be annoyed by Kenny’s insistence on acting like he is the smartest and boldest GM in the league, then failing to back up his talk with action


what the fuck is this bullshit?

when did Kenny insist on that?

"I would certainly not advocate paying 90 mm for torii, but as they say if you can't walk the walk don't talk the talk"

so don't talk the talk of signing a good CF to a reasonable contract if you're not planning on signing him to an asininely expensive one?

GMAMFB

Look dude--here's a handy rule of thumb: if you ever, at any point in your life, find yourself agreeing with Jay Moronotti, you're probably looking at the lazy side of the argument...or at the very least the retardedly ignorant side of the argument

pnoles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pnoles said...

chris w made my counterargument for me, justin, in case you wanted to hear my response.

Jason said...

Honestly I don't see a reason to pay Torii Hunter 90 million dollars. I'm personally happy the Sox didn't go with this Outrageous figure. There are still several high profile Center Fielders around in the league that could give the team a competitive advantage. Most notably of these is Aaron Rowand, a former White Sox.

I think Williams did what was the prudent thing to do. Let's face it Hunter liked Chicago and all factors being equal would have signed with the White Sox, but when someone offers you 10-15 million dollars more over 5 years how do you not take it. Now the Sox can go out and sign another "big fish" or make a big trade with extra payroll room.

And even though pnoles hates this, I think getting a guy like Aaron Rowand back in the club house would be worth more than Torii Hunter. A guy who sacrafices his face for a catch has more of an impact on the morale of a team than a guy who jumps against giant garbage bags.

pnoles said...

Nope. The guy sacrificing his face could be out for several games, thus ACTUALLY hurting the team.

justin said...

Chris / Pnoles,
Here is a sampling of recent Kenny quotes:

“This (the Garland trade) is just a start, and hopefully very quickly things will start to happen…Every deal we make is a prelude to something else…I have a definite plan… But once those dominoes start to fall, things will start to fall quickly… The message I've been giving everyone that we have targeted is we are 100 percent committed to winning a championship in 2008.”

“Last year didn't sit well with any of us. I'll be damned if we go through that again. We will aggressively pursue a championship.”

What “dominoes”, exactly, is he talking about? Scott Linebrink? That is a pretty mediocre $19 MM domino. Juan Uribe, perhaps? Seems like kind of a strange “definite plan” to re-sign your starting SS, then give up Garland for another SS.

And, what kind of GM says crap like “I’ll be damned if we go through that again,” and “I have a definite plan” and “We have a Plan 1 and 1A and 1B and then there is Plan B”? Of course you have a frickin plan, you are the goddamn GM! Why does Kenny feel the need to point this out, like he is some kind of mastermind because he plans what he is going to do ahead of time, like every other GM in every league?!

In response to Chris’s comment: “so don't talk the talk of signing a good CF to a reasonable contract if you're not planning on signing him to an asininely expensive one?”

The point is that Kenny spews all this bullsh*t about his great plan, and being committed to winning the world series next year, etc., but then he won’t pay up to get the guy he needs. Then, he complains about the market being out of control, like all the GMs are crazy except for him. Kenny knows what the market is like, so he shouldn’t hype his “plan” if he’s not going to go all out.

Maybe they’ll get Rowand, or trade for M. Cabrera or some great player and prove me wrong, but I don’t see that happening. I don’t think that Kenny is a bad GM, and he has made some good moves in the past, but he really needs to keep his mouth shut and let his moves speak for themselves. And, I am well aware that Mariotti often makes lazy / “retardedly ignorant” arguments, but in this case he does have a valid point.

pnoles said...

Justin - Hunter is not "the guy he needs". Hunter is not the guy anyone needs at that price. He simply isn't the star the Angels clearly think he is, and he is one of the three most overrated players in baseball.

Where were these Kenny quotes from? Were they from a time the press asked him questions and Kenny answering them as best as he could? Or were they from that time where Kenny Williams got on some sort of giant platform with a microphone and speakers that could reach the entire city and unprompted, made his famous "I have a plan" speech? You have to say things like this to the press! When they ask you about offseason moves, you have to assert that you're being aggressive without publicly announcing to the world (and 29 other baseball teams) your exact plans.

You, Justin, would do well to ignore Kenny's media-related bullshit, because the fact is, many GMs are forced to make those kinds of statements. Judge him by what he does, and not the frequency with which he follows through on what he says. Did you want him to make a stupid move and spend like $95M on Hunter just to give validity to some dumb statement he made in a press conference? I don't support a lot of the moves that the White Sox have made recently, but I am completely behind Kenny Williams in saying "no" to signing Torii.

This is just as lazy a Mariotti argument as the rest of them.

justin said...

Pnoles – I agree that Torii is not worth the $90 + million it would have taken to sign him, and that Kenny’s comments are often simply in response to reporters’ questions, rather than unprompted speeches with giant microphones and platforms, as you mentioned.

However, I still agree with the main point of Mariotti’s article, in that the Sox are too cheap / “prudent” to spend money on top free agents. Failing to sign Torii is just the latest example of this characteristic, with few major signings since the great Joey Belle in 1996. Additionally, in the last 4 years alone, the Sox have either traded or failed to re-sign the following players for economic reasons: Garland, Garcia, Mags Ordonez, and C. Lee, and they nearly traded Buehrle before he accepted a well-below-market deal.

Some of these moves have worked out well for the Sox, and they have had a pretty high payroll over the last two years. Still, for a big-market team with solid fan support (at least in recent years), the Sox rarely go after top FA talent, and have lost several good players due to money issues. Coming off a poor season, and in light of Kenny’s recent proclamations, if I were a Sox fan I would hope for a stronger showing this off-season.

pnoles said...

Instead of paying C.Lee, we paid Podsednik, Pierzynski, and Dye. Having those three combined was better than Lee was.

Getting rid of Garcia was smart too, one year away from free agency....the only problem was even though Gonzalez and Floyd are a reasonable return on one year of Freddy, they weren't what the team needed to win last year....the Sox shoulda found a decent outfielder instead.

If Williams is planning on shopping Uribe, then it's definitely worth it to swap one year of Garland for one of Cabrera and 4 years of Linebrink.

Yeah, the Sox lost Magglio, but Dye has been better than Magglio has over the past 3 years.

Magglio Ordonez, 2005-2007 WARP: 13.9

Jermaine Dye, 2005-2007 WARP: 15.4

So has it really hurt the White Sox that much that they weren't willing to overpay free agents? Come to think of it, can you think of any current outstanding contracts in MLB of total $90M+ that you would want on the shoulders of the White Sox (I'm truly asking, not saying that there aren't any, though I can't think of one). I think it's clear that the White Sox being too "cheap" has helped them more than it has hurt them. Landing one single free agent wouldn't have won them the division in '07 or anything.

To be honest, the true flaw of the White Sox has been the fact that their farm system has had a ridiculous inability to generate major league talent in recent years. That, more than anything else, is killing them.

Your move.

justin said...

True, the C. Lee trade worked out well for the Sox, and the Garcia trade looks fine especially since Freddy got hurt. As for the Garland trade, Cabrera is good but not a great upgrade over Uribe (career OPS: Uribe .722, Cabrera .724), and it creates another question mark in the rotation.

Also, though Dye has a higher WARP than Maggs over the past three years, to me this is not the most important comparison. Dye was signed at a bargain price ($16.5 M over the last 3 years), so why couldn’t the Sox keep BOTH players, rather than swapping one for the other?

Continuing with the WARP comparisons, then, how about Magglio vs. Sox left fielders (assuming Magglio switched to left to accommodate Dye) over the last three years?

Maggs 2005-07 WARP: 13.9

Podsednik 2005-06 WARP: 5.7 + ’07 totals for Mackowiak, Pods, Gonzalez, etc. (couldn’t find it on the web, but suffice it to say it’s not much)

Pods had a slightly higher WARP than Magglio in ‘05, and even Barry Bonds in his juiced-up prime couldn’t have put the Sox in contention in 2007, but how about in 2006, when Magglio had +2.6 WARP over Pods and the Sox finished 5 games out? That doesn’t quite put the Sox in the playoffs, but it gets them close, and with a little extra luck, who knows? This, to me, is one clear example of where the Sox frugality cost them a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

These stats also don’t take next year into consideration, when Maggs would probably be a big upgrade over any player they’re likely to get for LF. Granted, Hunter is not worth $90 M, but he would have improved the Sox’ OF production. From another viewpoint, if the Sox had kept Ordonez, then they wouldn’t have as much need for a big OF bat, and they wouldn’t even need to consider going after Torii b/c even a decent CF would give them solid overall OF production.

Now, though, the Sox have big holes in left and center. Since they’ve said they’re not going to move Fields to left, they either have to overpay for a FA, hope for better production from their disappointing prospects, or make a trade (assuming they can get a decent return for said prospects) if they want any production from LF and/or CF.

So, although it may not have hurt in the past when the Sox avoided other teams’ big-money FAs, in this case their failure to re-sign their own (Maggs) is definitely hurting them now. This failure has led to a reliance on unproven prospects / Podsednik, which, I think, shows how the Sox’ tendency towards cheaper alternatives is finally catching up with them. Additionally, as mentioned above, the Garland trade leads to more reliance on prospects, which may well hamper their “aggressive pursuit of a championship” in ’08. Given their oft-mentioned (esp. by Kenny) financial constraints, the Sox have done well, but I really wonder if they really can’t afford to keep any of these guys, or if they’re just being “cheap”.

BTW, although he’s only got about $55 M left on the deal, the Sox could probably live with Pujols’ 7 year / $100 M contract, but beyond that you’re right, I can’t think of any contract with $90 M + outstanding that would benefit the Sox.

pnoles said...

Yeah, Pujols deal would be solid. That's a good example.

My argument would have been that when we punted Garcia, we should have gotten an LF in exchange rather than a prospect and whatever you call Gavin Floyd.

You make a fairly convincing case about keeping Ordonez and still making the Lee/Dye+Pierzynski swap. The question then becomes: for whom do we trade Carlos Lee? It's a tad inefficient to get Podsednik in the trade with Dye/Ordonez/Rowand slated for the outfield. Provided something else helpful would have come from trading Lee, you may be onto something in re: let Maggs go???

But I feel like of all the cases you mentioned, the Magglio one is the only truly legitimate one (trading Garland for something of Cabrera-ish value was smart, but that something should have been a LF or CF), suggesting that Kenny's refusal to splurge on free agents isn't something that repeatedly damages the team. The White Sox were an atrocious OBP team last season, and signing another guy who can't OBP above the league average was no offensive savior. Yes, Hunter would have been a very significant upgrade, but most of that is because he's replacing Jerry Owens. I'd rather just take on Coco Crisp at a significantly cheaper price and spend the money elsewhere.

Did I mention that Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva are worth approximately the same amount of wins? Because they are.....

I'd almost rather get Crisp and be "that team" that gives Silva his $50M.

pnoles said...

Yeah, Pujols deal would be solid. That's a good example.

My argument would have been that when we punted Garcia, we should have gotten an LF in exchange rather than a prospect and whatever you call Gavin Floyd.

You make a fairly convincing case about keeping Ordonez and still making the Lee/Dye+Pierzynski swap. The question then becomes: for whom do we trade Carlos Lee? It's a tad inefficient to get Podsednik in the trade with Dye/Ordonez/Rowand slated for the outfield. Provided something else helpful would have come from trading Lee, you may be onto something in re: let Maggs go???

But I feel like of all the cases you mentioned, the Magglio one is the only truly legitimate one (trading Garland for something of Cabrera-ish value was smart, but that something should have been a LF or CF), suggesting that Kenny's refusal to splurge on free agents isn't something that repeatedly damages the team. The White Sox were an atrocious OBP team last season, and signing another guy who can't OBP above the league average was no offensive savior. Yes, Hunter would have been a very significant upgrade, but most of that is because he's replacing Jerry Owens. I'd rather just take on Coco Crisp at a significantly cheaper price and spend the money elsewhere.

Did I mention that Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva are worth approximately the same amount of wins? Because they are.....

I'd almost rather get Crisp and be "that team" that gives Silva his $50M.

justin said...

OK – so maybe trading / losing all of those guys hasn’t hurt quite as much as I thought, and maybe the bigger problem is that Kenny has screwed up the last two trades (Garland & Garcia) by failing to address the OF problems, esp. given the lack of production from their OF prospects.

But still, it’s gotta be aggravating to a Sox fan to know that, if you’ve got a good / potentially expensive player approaching free agency, there’s a good chance he won’t be around for long. And, Kenny’s probably not going to make a big splash in free agency to replace them (for example, you mentioned Silva, who might not be a bad pickup, but the Sox won’t sign him b/c they rarely give SPs (except Buehrle) more than 3 years).