Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jonah Keri does not show us the funny

Jonah's annual MLB trade value column came out a couple weeks ago (ZOMG SIMMONS IS A GENIUS THIS IS THE BEST LISTICLE OF ALL TIME).  I give his analysis a B-plus, it's fine.  I give his ability to write coherently a C-minus, it is slipshod at best.  And most importantly, I give his sense of humor an F-minus, because it's fucking terrible.  Let's dive right in to his rundown of guys who were in the top 50 last year but fell out this year.

Meanwhile, it's time to retire Keith Law's brilliant "Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters" (41) meme … 

Keith Law is a gaping asshole, and there is nothing brilliant about anything he has ever done, perhaps other than convince people that he's an amazing baseball analyst.  That joke is terrible, Keith is terrible, and I hope he loses every writing gig he has before the year is out.  (Check the comments for PNoles's obligatory defense of Keith, because... well, I have no idea why PNoles defends Keith.  Keith fucking sucks.)

Desmond Jennings (39) improved his power, batting eye, and contact skills in 2013 and offers four more years of team control, so leaving him off this (stacked) list could wind up looking really stupid … 

Classic Simmonism: make arbitrary list.  Question own decisions in crafting said list, as if something is at stake, or worse, as if it wasn't possible to put an extra 15 seconds into re-ordering said list before publishing if desired.  Collect enormous paycheck.

Justin Upton (38) might have already delivered his best season, 

Almost certainly.  Fuck Justin Upton and fuck anyone who gave him serious MVP consideration in 2011.  No, I am not ready to let that go.

and his brother was the worst outfielder in the NL last season, ruining another excellent meme … 

That's not a meme.  It's a bit.  The Weithers thing was not a meme either, but at least this Upton one isn't horribly unclever.

Brett Lawrie (21) and Dylan Bundy (20) are Exhibits A and B for why we shouldn't overrate prospects until they actually start producing; and yes, I'm a terrible, Canadian-loving homer 

I mean, admitting it is nice and all, but the other option is to stop journalistically tonguing Alex Anthopoulos's balls and realize that the Blue Jays continue to be a mediocre team with mediocre management, no matter how many SUPER ULTRA GENIUS moves they make.  Anthopoulos is the AL's answer to Jack Zduriencik (Remember him?  He's the guy who invented RUN PREVENTION and took the 2010 Mariners to the Super Bowl!).

Also, all fans of all teams in all sports overrate prospects, but baseball fans are undoubtedly the worst about it.  The reasons are obvious (takes much longer for prospects to develop relative to other sports, takes longer for teams to go for bad to good relative to other sports), but that doesn't mean every fan who lights up a message board with a comment to the effect of "[My favorite team] would never trade [name of prospect who is at least two years from MLB and will probably never make it] for [established and available above average player].  [Name is prospect] is a sure thing." shouldn't be shot out of a circus cannon into an alligator pit.

[Shelby Miller] faded in the second half, which isn't that unusual for a pitcher tossing more innings than ever before. Then the Curious Case of the Disappearing Shelby happened, 

Is that a joke?  If so, no points awarded.

with the Cardinals opting to use Bob Forsch, Dane Iorg, 

Hooray for unremarkable players from the 80s!  Hope Jonah paid Pearlman his royalty fees for using that bit.

and a plate of toasted ravioli rather than put Miller in a postseason game.


44. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): The Brewers owe Lucroy a total of $9 million over the next three years, or $14.25 million over the next four assuming they pick up his option in 2017. Here's a list of the things Lucroy would have to do to fail to earn that contract:

1. Hit .024 with 400 strikeouts and 968 errors

2. Suffer a career-ending stubbed toe tomorrow

3. Say the word "Smaug" 17,227 times in a row until someone stabs him

I'm not saying I've never used hyperbole to sell a joke.  But come on, what Jonah just wrote is terrible.  It's fucking horrible.  Especially the last part.  Jesus H. Christ-that line is Easterbrookian.

Given the flashier names around Lucroy on this list, he might seem out of place at first glance. But if anything, this ranking feels a little low.

More patented Simmons second guessing your own arbitrary ranking cow shit.  Infuriating.  YOU KNOW I THINK I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING HERE, BUT ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE I'M ACTUALLY SMARTER THAN MYSELF AND THUS AM MAKING ERRORS THAT MYSELF IS UNABLE TO CATCH.  Fucking barf.

He delivered offense 5 percent better than the league average, excellent defense, and the health and stamina to play 138 games. After that campaign, [Salvador] Perez's contract looks even more unbelievable. Like, it's actually impossible to believe. The Royals owe Perez $1.5 million in 2014, $1.75 million in 2015, and $2 million in 2016. KC then has a $3.75 million club option for 2017, followed by a $5 million option for 2018 and a $6 million option for 2019, which would normally be Perez's first two years of free agency. That's $20 million for his next six seasons, for a four-win player.


I mean, of course that contract is very team friendly.  The Royals are getting a great deal.  But to call it "actually impossible to believe" is actually really fucking dumb.

32. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers (18); 31. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (NR):

Remember how Brett Lawrie and Dylan Bundy were high on last year's list?  This time around, Jonah promises to stop overrating prospects.

18. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies (23): I live in Denver. I'm at Coors Field a lot. Last fall, I spent two hours talking to de facto Rockies general manager Bill Geivett about … everything, really. And I still have no idea what the Rockies are doing, other than making arguably the best party atmosphere in and around any ballpark even better. This winter's Tulowitzki dance continues that theme. Tulo's name came up in trade rumors with the Cardinals, a team with enough talent to revitalize the Rockies' stockpile of good, young players and potentially set Colorado up with its best starting rotation ever. Instead, the Rockies more or less came out and said Tulo isn't going anywhere under any circumstances. 

A) Tulowitzki's extension, signed in 2011 and good through 2021, is fairly team friendly.  Even with his injury problems, which are overstated most of the time because most baseball fans are mouth breathers, he's a pretty safe bet to provide more value than it pays him over the duration.  In 2010 he put up 6.7 rWAR in 122 games.  Last year he put up 5.3 rWAR in 128 games.  I'll pay that guy $20MM a year (as he'll be paid from 2015 through 2019), even if I expect him to miss time, no problem.  He will have to move away from SS eventually, which will hurt his value, but that doesn't change the overall likelihood that the extension works out well for the Rockies.  

2) Just because the Cardinals were sniffing around doesn't mean there was any kind of a decent deal to be had.  If the Cardinals' management has a mentality anything like any of the Best Fans In Baseball who provided internet insight on the possibility of their team scooping up Tulo, it would be the worst trade in history if they offered any of their 10 best prospects, because LOLCOORZ (Tulo career on the road: .276/.348/.471) and INJUREEZ (see above).  I don't think any rational Rockies fan gave even a passing thought to the idea of trading him for future assets. And as far as current assets goes, he's one of the best in the game, and is locked up for the rest of his career to a good contract.  

D) Describing a passing and unsubstantiated rumor that the SS-needy Cardinals had interest in the best SS in baseball, who happens to play for a non-playoff team, as "this winter's Tulowitzki dance" is embarrassingly terrible analysis.

So, OK, they see an open window over the next two or three years, with Tulo and CarGo in their primes. But then why did they just trade Dexter Fowler for a bucket of beans?

Who knows, it was probably a bad trade, but the Rockies have had success recently in converting some "plenty of potential but no real results" young arms into decent SPs in recent years (Jorge de la Rosa, Tyler Chatwood).  Fowler has the same injury problems Tulowitzki does, and is of course not nearly the player Tulowitzki is.  He's also streaky, getting hot for a few weeks and then disappearing for a few weeks, which isn't the end of the world when the end of year results are above average, but hurts a little more when it's your leadoff hitter doing it as opposed to someone lower in the lineup.  

Further, Gonzalez is a natural CF who is ready to take over, and corner OFs (to replace Gonzalez in LF) aren't exactly hard to find.  They're probably going to run a platoon of Corey Dickerson (.819 OPS against righties last year as a rookie) and Drew Stubbs (never quite blossomed fully, but career .796 OPS against lefties) out there, and they used the money they would have owed Fowler to sign Justin Morneau to play 1B (which was a tire fire last year).  THAT move could also blow up, but if you give the situation more than just a cursory look, it's easy to see how all the moves fit together.  Sheesh.

Yes, I know you can tell that I'm a Rockies fan, and that you don't give a fuck about that fact or the Rockies themselves.  Let me have my moment tearing Jonah down.  It's the least you can do for me.

None of those moves or non-moves is that bad in isolation; Tulo is a superstar who, even when he plays only 130 games a year, is still the best shortstop in baseball and one of the 20 best players in the majors, and Fowler is a perfectly fine player who also has gigantic home/road splits. The bigger issue is that management doesn't seem to have much of a tangible plan, other than keeping its biggest star in town so fans will keep lining up to buy $12 microbrews on sunny afternoons and the club can keep raking in gigantic gobs of money that it pretends not to have.

That's the most cynical, retarded viewpoint on how an MLB team should manage its assets I've ever read.  Jonah is apparently one of those IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS BLOW IT ALL UP AND START OVER PROSPECTS ARE AWESOME guys.  What a dope.

15. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals (8): Strasburg falls a few spots from last year, since there's now at least a little doubt over his ability to take over the world. There's the still-tough-to-fathom innings-limit gambit of 2012, which sparks doubt over whether there was something else at play aside from a shot-in-the-dark guess at his appropriate workload in the thick of a pennant race.

What?  What the hell else could have been at play?  Someone in the Nationals front office ordering a shutdown so he could profit from betting against the team's postseason chances?  That decision was astonishingly dumb, but I'm 100% certain it was motivated solely by a shot-in-the-dark guess at Strasburg's appropriate workload.

13. Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants (27): Bumgarner should have ranked higher last year, so we're correcting matters this time.

Pretty much every player should have been ranked differently than they were on last year's list.  Please stop trying to sound like you've finally cracked the trade value code and are providing 100% accurate information, as opposed to last year when you were only providing barely-educated guesses.

12. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals (44): Wins Above Replacement underrates Molina, maybe severely.

CHECK OUT HIS CATCHER ERA!  ALSO HE FRAMES PITCHES A LOT!  Fucking gag me.  Not saying there's no value to pitch framing or "handling the staff," but to say Molina is "severely underrated" by any metric is laughable.  He's been a 6ish rWAR player these last two years.  I'm pretty sure he's not really actually a 10 rWAR player or something ridiculous like that.  He's not Barry fucking Bonds.

For now, though, Molina just might be the best player in the NL.

No.  He's not, and he's not in the top 5.  He might not be in the top 10.

5. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants (4); 4. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (5): There are always what-ifs in baseball, especially when it comes to the draft. But given the success the Rays had with their top picks in 2006 (Longoria) and 2007 (Price), we might need to give a team of scientists 100 years to figure out how Tampa Bay chose Tim Beckham over Buster Posey with its top pick in 2008.

No team has ever had mixed success with high draft picks!  It's impossible to believe it happened to the Rays!  Like, literally impossible to believe!

When SI's Tom Verducci wrote about Harper back in 2009, he called the Las Vegas–based teenager "Baseball's LeBron," adding: "Golf has Tiger Woods, basketball has LeBron James, hockey had Wayne Gretzky and military history had Alexander the Great, but baseball, like jazz, is a discipline that does not easily engender prodigies … So good and so young is Bryce Harper, however, that he explodes baseball convention." Those words weren't just hosannas from a seasoned and well-respected writer; they reflected the opinion of every talent evaluator in baseball. When Verducci revisited Harper in May of last year, right after Harper's major league debut, it was impossible to overlook the irony involved. "Harper's debut was the most anticipated debut in baseball history," Verducci wrote, "if only because of the volume, scope, and speed of coverage we give professional sports." Basically, Harper is megahyped because Verducci and I and everyone else who writes about the sport drools over Harper's ability.

IRONIC IRONY!  Good job by Jonah of 1) misusing that, 2) not grasping that there's nothing weird (let alone ironic) about a writer doing a profile of a megaprospect and then three years later noting that lots of people were eager to see said megaprospect reach MLB, and 3) incorrectly crystalizing his own point, awkwardly flailing and ultimately failing to give any insight into the feedback loop of hype he's trying to describe.  Good effort, Jonah.  Better luck next year.  At least you put Mike Trout at #1 on the list.  


Chris W said...

i won't give you shit for being a huge rockies homer.


Larry B said...

Let's just agree that WAR severely underrates Molina, who is the best player in the NL.

pnoles said...

Nothing wrong with KLaw...I like the fact that he's willing to put himself on the line with strong opinions like "Prospect X won't pan out" or "that was a boneheaded move by team Y." I guess a lot of people hate him for it when they disagree, but most writers for major sites don't take firm, negative stances like that to keep their public perception in good standing.

Oh, and all defense of the team that gave Boone Logan $16.5M can stop now, thanks. :p

Peyton Simmons said...

This guy lives in Denver? What kind of things does he do? Oh yeah, parties at Rockies' games. Is he dead? <------ That's a topical movie reference joke right there, boys. I'm working on ramping up humor content.

Larry B said...

You're right, Noles--because they overpaid for a reliever, all other moves they've made (including not trading their franchise player because the Cardinals needed a shortstop and might have kicked the tires on said franchise player) are indefensible.

Chris W said...


pnoles said...

I was just giving you shit...not trading Tulo is probably the right call. I think the Fowler trade and Logan signing were sort of boneheaded but I like everything else they've done.

Angelo said...

I'll also join the defend-kieth-law camp. He's the only baseball writer I read willingly

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