Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grantland has another MLB guy besides Jonah Keri. He's a dumbshit.

[Edited to change my comments on this bozo's Nationals 2B situation analysis.  He's a bozo.  I'm a bozo.  We're all bozos.]

Before I get into this though, you know what I noticed while cruising around Bill Simmons's Grantland Brought To You By Bill Simmons And Edited By Bill Simmons By Which I Mean Not Edited At All?  Bill did part 1 of his NBA trade value column back in late January, and hasn't done part 2 yet.  (There's a disclaimer at the end of part 1 that says part 2 will happen after the Super Bowl.)  This asshole is just as lazy as I am!  Holy shit, how do you let yourself get away with that as the EIC of a major content mill?  "Yeah, I just kind of set my own deadlines and then I don't stick to them, because I had some podcasts and TV work to do."  Sure, I do that all the time around here.  I also don't make a dime from this, and have another job to work in order to make dimes.  Fuck you, Bill.  I'll start working on that trade value column next week.  (Seriously!  I will!)

In the meantime, as I've said many many times, I don't really mind Jonah Keri that much.  But today I stumbled across an MLB spring training preview piece written by some diptard named Michael Baumann.  As you'll see when you start to read it, this isn't really meant to be taken as 100% serious analysis.  There's a decent number of "jokes" and a medium amount of whimsical bullshit.  But you'll also see that Michael actually does take his baseball knowledge seriously.  And that's why I'm writing this post.  Michael is also, according to his mini-bio, "author of the upcoming book Philadelphia Phenoms: The Most Amazing Athletes to Play in the City of Brotherly Love, due in November 2014."  This will be relevant later, when I get butthurt about what he says about my favorite team.  Away we go.

Yesterday, I listed the pressing spring training question facing each American League team. 

And don't think I won't take a shot at that if I get positive feedback on this post, buster.

Today, it’s the National League’s turn. 

Can't believe Simmons is paying someone to write about AAAA baseball lololololololol

I hope his AL-only keeper league has disbanded due to everyone in it realizing what a turd Bill is.

Here’s hoping we get some resolution by Opening Day! 

You sound like you're writing for Bleacher Report when you start an article like that!

Arizona Diamondbacks: Is Archie Bradley Archie Bradley again?

Excellent non-question.

Diamondbacks fans don’t have much to feel optimistic about, but that could change if Bradley, arguably the top pitching prospect in the game a year ago, 

Sure, but that was coming off of his 20 year old season spent at AA ball.  Even if he had been awesome in the minors in 2014, he probably wouldn't be slated for a callup until late this summer at the earliest.  As things stand, there's no way he's in Phoenix before 2016.  Not sure why this would be a really exciting spring training question.

bounces back from the injuries that derailed his 2014 campaign. 

Even during his awesome 2013 season, he still had a BB/9 over 4.  He needs a little more work.

Those ailments led to ineffectiveness and mechanical inconsistency, and so the cycle goes, but a healthy, effective Bradley has the potential to be the team’s best homegrown pitcher since Brandon Webb. 

Webb was never even any kind of elite prospect--he was an 8th round pick who didn't debut in the majors until he was 24, and had little minor league track record of dominance.  Those lucky assholes in Arizona. 

We’ll get a sense of his progress in camp. 

I know the Diamondbacks are going to suck this year, but I'm pretty sure you could have come up with something better than this angle.  Christ, just note that Paul Goldschmidt had an amazing 2013 and then just a really good 2014 and ask if he can get back to being an MVP candidate.

Atlanta Braves: How do Nick Markakis and Melvin (yes, Melvin) Upton look?

SO HILARIOUS AND INTERESTING THAT THIS TERRIBLE PLAYER WHO WILL BE OUT OF MLB IN A COUPLE OF YEARS DECIDED TO GO BY A DIFFERENT NAME.  I'M NOT AT ALL SICK OF HEARING ABOUT IT YET.  Christ.  If Upton played in New York or Boston this would be the biggest story in the game for the next six weeks.  Let's all count our blessings that this isn't the case.

After liquidating Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, and Justin Upton, 

Eh, they got Shelby Miller for Heyward, but I'll grant that "liquidating" is an accurate verb as to what they did with Gattis and Upton.

the Braves brought in Markakis to play right field on a four-year, $44 million contract, which is weird, because that seems like a lot to give a 31-year-old corner outfielder who doesn’t hit for power and needed offseason neck surgery. 

Well, take a little trip on the Google machine and try "Braves new stadium racism."  Here's a great start!  It shouldn't be a surprise that they're doing a mini-rebuild that crafts a team, ahem, a little more in the image of their target fan demographic.

Even if he’s not 100 percent to start the season, though, Markakis can’t possibly be more disappointing than the newly christened Melvin Upton. 


It’s hard not to feel bad for Upton at this point, 

He is on a $75MM contract, and his problems at the plate are a result of his failure to change his approach once pitchers stopped throwing him fastballs.  Stuff your sorries for MELVIN in a sack, Michael.

but maybe something will finally click this spring and he’ll return to something approaching his former glory.


Chicago Cubs: Who are those guys with the jersey numbers in the 70s?

Maybe they play offensive line for the Bears lol!!!!!

Adding ace Jon Lester and veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler will help the Cubs in the short term, but the buzz building around the franchise is largely based on Chicago amassing, in scientific terms, a butt load of young position players. 


We saw Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Jorge Soler for the first time last year, 

All three of these guys could become good players, although Baez (admittedly the one with the highest pedigree) struck out in more than 40% of his PAs last year.  Obviously that will have to change.

and here’s a partial list of the nonroster invitees who will get a crack at major league camp: Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber. 

True, this is regarded by pretty much everyone as the best farm system in baseball for good reason.  Now watch the Cubs find a way to royally fuck it up.

Also new to the team and sporting a number in the 70s: Joe Maddon, in case all the commotion made you forget that Chicago also added the game’s best manager this offseason. 

/Larry B adds "managers don't do that much" tag to post

The Cubs are either another year or another big trade away from making a run at the playoffs, but right now, this team is where the Nationals were four years ago. 

Hopefully they are leading the division in July, get greedy and deplete the farm system by trading for some rental player at the trade deadline, lose in the divisional round, and go back to sucking.  Doesn't sound like something Theo Epstein would do, but I can dream.

Cincinnati Reds: Can this team prove that the complex interpersonal relationships surrounding baseball are more interesting than the game itself?

No, because that premise only holds any water if you're a boring idiot who doesn't actually care about sports.

I make no secret of how profoundly boring I find exhibition baseball, 

Whoa, don't go too far out on that limb!  Most baseball fans, especially die hard baseball fans, find ST games RIVETING.

but the first week of Reds camp has shown that spring training can be interesting if you don’t pay attention to the games. Would I watch a matchmaking show about pitchers picking throwing partners in the style of a turn-of-the-century MTV dating program? Yes. 


Was the highlight of the preseason Mat Latos not only burning the bridge he just crossed to leave Cincinnati, but rigging it to explode in a shower of glitter and flower petals? It was, until out of nowhere, in came Marlon Byrd — who wasn’t even on the Reds last year — off the top rope to fire back at Latos. I’m so drunk on human drama I can’t keep my metaphors straight.

More interested in gossip than actual events that affect the outcome of games/seasons?  You're fitting right in at ESPN, buddy.  Good job.

Colorado Rockies: Y’all want a hug?

Fuck you, no they don't.  (This is where I get butthurt, as referenced earlier.)

I’m serious. I spent forever trying to give Rockies fans a reason to be optimistic other than “Maybe Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez won’t get hurt this year?” but I struck out.
Well, they have some actually-relevant-like-not-just-relevant-to-Rockies-fans young players like Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson and (maybe, fingers crossed) Tyler Matzek.   That's still a fair point--they will probably suck this year.  HOWEVA.  Here's where I lose my shit.

The Rockies are going to be bad again, and unlike other similarly bad teams, they don’t have a great chance of bouncing off rock bottom and back into contention thanks to their farm system or front office.

Oh, really?  Interesting--there is a pretty good consensus out there, from Keith Law (who I hate, but who knows prospects and farm systems very well thank you very much) on down, that the Rockies have a top 10 farm system.  I see that you are apparently a Philadelphia native, sir, and therefore likely a Phillies fan.  How are they doing these days?  What's that?  Just as shitty as the Rockies?  Interesting--they appear to also have, by most accounts, a bottom 10 farm system.  Can't wait for that Ryan Howard contract to finally come off the books in two seasons though!  Go fuck yourself, needledick.

But hey, Coors Field is lovely. I haven’t seen such a beautiful building filled with so much garbage since my last trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, though.


I hope the Phillies never win another game.

Los Angeles Dodgers: How weird is it going to be to see Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick in Dodger uniforms?

Ooh, this guy has learned well from Simmons.  "How [noteworthy/interesting/weird] is [thing that isn't noteworthy/interesting/weird]?" has been a Bill staple for more than a decade now.

The Dodgers now have a pair of very experienced, very good two-way middle infielders in Rollins and Kendrick, 

Good to see him carrying water for former Phillie Rollins, who did have a good 2014, but was terrible in 2012 and 2013 and is on the wrong side of 35.  I'm sure the Dodgers won't miss Hanley Ramirez at all.

both of whom come from extremely stable double-play combinations (Rollins with Chase Utley since 2005, Kendrick with Erick Aybar since 2007). This spring, they’ll have to develop that kind of chemistry with each other. 

That's your spring training angle for this team?  This World Series contender, with the best pitcher in the game and one of the most interesting and talented young position players around?  Their new 2B and SS need to develop "chemistry?"  Hmm.  Arizona preview = boring.  Colorado preview = inaccurate.  Dodgers preview = boring.  Excuse me while I cry myself a river, but I've got a vague idea that perhaps Michael doesn't really give a flying shit about things that happen west of Pittsburgh.  We'll see what he does for the Giants and Padres.

Truthfully, though, the adjustment probably won’t be as hard on them as it will be on the fans; it’ll probably be June or July before seeing these guys in Dodger blue stops being jarringly weird.


Miami Marlins: How is the Mighty Giancarlo Stanton’s Face?

I'm sure it's fine.

The big questions for Miami’s playoff hopes (when will Jose Fernandez come back? Is Dee Gordon actually good? What’s Christian Yelich’s ceiling?) can’t be answered in the spring. 

Uh, the last two of those sort of can.  Hell, all three of them sort of can.  I'm not going to look it up but I'm sure Fernandez is at spring training, going through rehab.  He had his surgery last May and was throwing by September.  He'll probably be ready for game action in the minors soon after the regular season starts.

But we haven’t seen TMGS take a swing in game action since Mike Fiers hit him in the face with a baseball in September. It’s overwhelmingly likely that he’s fine, 

Because that was a freak accident and baseball players get hit with pitches all the time, and you don't need your face to hit or throw, for fuck's sake it's not like the guy tore his hamstring or broke his back or something.

because the Marlins wouldn’t have signed him to a $325 million extension if they didn’t think he was, but I won’t be able to relax completely until he hits his first home run. 

What the fuck are you talking about?  Do you know what baseball is?

Milwaukee Brewers: What critter will the Brew Crew find at the ballpark this year?

OK, admittedly, drivel like this makes my criticism of his blurbs that seem to contain actual analysis feel a little out of place.  I don't care, it's my blog and if you don't like it I'm taking my ball and leaving.

The highlight of last season — yes, including Jonathan Lucroy’s insane breakout performance — was the emergence of Hank, a stray bichon frise mix who wandered into the team’s spring training facility and became the Brewers’ unofficial mascot. 

That was a highlight of last season on par with Lucroy's performance for Brewers fans under the age of 10 and over the age of 90.  Everyone else, I'm sure, was much more interested in Lucroy than a dog.

Hank was adopted by Brewers executive Marti Wronski, leaving a spot open for another animal to sneak into Maryvale Park and, from there, into our hearts. I’m rooting for a sheep this year.

Awesome joke.

New York Mets: Is it time for Thor? WE WANT THOR! WE WANT THOR!

I left that link in on purpose--I guess Mets fans refer to Noah Syndergaard as "Thor."  Mets fans are fucking idiots and I've never met one I liked.  This does not change that.

“You know, between Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Bartolo Colon, the Mets have a decent rotation. Matt Harvey’s throwing again — I don’t think you guys need to rush Noah Syndergaard to the maj—”

[A terrifying, baseball-headed man bursts through the wall, followed by a mob of blue-and-orange-clad villagers.] “WE WANT THOR! WE WANT THOR!” 

You know, that's less unfunny than most of Simmons's little imaginary dialogues.  Points for trying.

Philadelphia Phillies: Are the broken pitchers still broken?

Chad Billingsley and Cliff Lee would’ve made a great one-two punch in 2008, yet in 2015, the best-case scenario for the Phillies involves both returning to health. 

Sure, their current roster is a garbage fire past old-ass Chase Utley, "please trade me now" Cole Hamels and injured-ass Cliff Lee, and they have hands down the WORST front office in MLB, but totally, that's the big question this spring--can Lee and Chad Billingsley pitch up to expectations?  If they do, this team might win 75 games!

This team probably wouldn’t go anywhere even if both pitchers could return to their 2008 form, 

It sure as fuck wouldn't.

but both would make for attractive trade chips come midseason if would-be trade partners were convinced they’d stand up to a playoff run. 

Yeah, Ruben Amaro Jr. might be able to turn them into a couple bags of magic beans.  Phight on!

Pittsburgh Pirates: What can the Bucs expect from Jung Ho Kang?

What's this?  Relevant analysis that's more or less on point?

Spring training will be our first extended look at Kang, a 27-year-old South Korean infielder who arrived in Pittsburgh this offseason. With only $16 million invested in Kang, and Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison already in the fold, the Pirates don’t need Kang to perform, but it’d sure be nice if he did. 

My God!  It is!  Who ghost-wrote this section for him?

Translating performance in the Korean Baseball Organization to MLB is still very much an inexact science, 

Oof, I don't hate the Pirates, but that translation is "an inexact science" in the sense that "the KBO is significantly worse than the NPB, and even the best players from the NPB often struggle to transition to MLB, sooooo....."

so even a few dozen spring at-bats should help the Pirates get a better idea of the kind of player they’ve bought. 

Fair enough.

San Diego Padres: Who’s going to play center field?

Hmmm.  After those Diamondbacks/Rockies/Dodgers blurbs, I was hoping this would say "Haha will the Padres be too distracted by San Diego's beautiful weather to have a good season?"  This is still a pretty dumb question, but it's made less dumb by the fact that Petco's CF is gigantic.

Contrary to popular opinion, going to war with three outfielders who fall just short of being able to play center field isn’t a season-killer. 

I... I don't think that's popular opinion.

The Dodgers, Cardinals, and Nationals have all won division titles without a real center fielder in recent years, though in all cases, that was a temporary solution. 

"Popular opinion, which no one actually subscribes to due to these very recent and obvious counterexamples..."

Right now, it looks like Wil Myers is going to play center field for San Diego, though if he doesn’t bounce back from a down sophomore season, it might be time to have a serious talk about whether Cameron Maybin, if healthy, can do enough on defense to be the more productive player overall. 

Maybin has a career 87 OPS+ in 2000 PA, and it's significantly worse than that since 2012.  It's time to stop thinking of him as a starter no matter how good his glove is.  Myers was rotten last year, but come on, he's got to be better than Maybin or the Padres just spent a bunch of money for no good reason.

San Francisco Giants: Do you think wearing three World Series rings at once looks tacky?

THERE we go.  There's the "other side of the country" analysis I expected.

PS--fuck the Giants

There’s not much to worry about here, since the Giants return almost everyone from the pretty well-rounded, veteran team that won the World Series last year. 

Oh for fuck's sake, come on.  This was an 88 win team that wouldn't have even made the playoffs prior to the second wild card being added in 2012.  They backed in, and then won it all because playoff baseball is much different than regular season baseball and Madison Bumgarner went apeshit.  Outside of Posey and Pence, the offense is a total joke.  If they don't get amazingly strong late career performances from Hudson and Peavy again, they're going to be an 84 win team that plays golf in October instead of what they were last year.  Some of this is sour grapes, but go on, convince me that there's "not much to worry about" for a team with this many old pitchers and shitty hitters. 

Some might worry about the downgrade from Pablo Sandoval to Casey McGehee at third base, but that’ll largely be offset by signee Nori Aoki filling the Mike Morse–size defensive hole in left field. 

Except that Aoki was awful on defense last year too, and unlike Morse, he can't hit for shit.  McGehee was a nice story last year but I'll be shocked if he can replicate Sandoval's numbers.  This team is going to score even fewer runs than they did last year, and I don't see that working out for them unless Bumgarner makes like 50 starts.

Now, watch them win 88 games and a wild card again, thanks to twenty walk off wins on infield singles at home and twenty 2-1 road wins where the other team strands like a million baserunners and the Giants get both their runs on a walk-error-bloop opposite field double sequence.

I see no reason why the Giants won’t be good again in 2015, then go on to win the World Series again in 2016.

Fuck the Giants.

St. Louis Cardinals: Will a change of scenery do Jason Heyward good?

Well, even though his power seems to be eroding as he enters his mid 20s (huh?) he was still worth 6.3 rWAR last year.  So I'm not sure he needed a change.

Heyward isn’t the player we’d hoped he’d be when he came up, but he’s already one of the top outfielders in the National League, and he’s still only 25. A shoulder injury he suffered as a second-year player kicked off a never-ending cycle of swing tinkering that seemed to limit his offensive potential, a theory Heyward himself spoke about after arriving in Cardinals camp. 

Big story here: player hasn't been playing well; blames nagging injury.

If Heyward doesn’t improve one bit, he’ll be a massive addition for St. Louis. 


But if he meshes better with the coaching staff in St. Louis than he did in Atlanta and turns into a monster power hitter, we could see a breakout season of biblical proportions.

I have a hard time seeing him go from 14 HR to 11 HR to "monster power hitter" in three seasons, but he is really really good.  Knowing the Cardinals, he'll hit 40 this year.

Washington Nationals: How will Danny Espinosa do against righties?

No.  No.  A thousand times no.  This is not one of the fifty most pressing questions facing the Nationals this spring.  Espinosa has less than 500 PA in the last two seasons combined, because he can't fucking hit.  I'm sure failing at switch hitting is a big part of that, but who cares?  The Nationals traded for Yunel Escobar this offseason, and he's going to start.  Whether Bryce Harper RESPECTS THE GAME ENOUGH is a more pressing question than whether Espinosa can hit righties from the right side.

There aren’t many guys who have 20–home run power, 20-steal speed, and the ability to play above-average middle infield defense. Espinosa is one of them. 

And the Nationals don't need or want him to be one of them anymore, because they're trying to win right now.  Thus, he is a bench player, and thus, there are no pressing questions about him.

The problem is that though the switch-hitting Espinosa hit .301/.374/.485 while batting right-handed last year, he hit only .183/.241/.291 from the left side, which, given the prevalence of right-handed pitching, he did twice as often. 

He still only had 364 PAs, because for a lot of the season the Nationals tried to keep Zimmerman at 3B and Rendon at 2B.

Therefore, in addition to growing a stupendous, Jeff Daniels–in-Gettysburg mustache, 


Espinosa is toying with the idea of giving up switch hitting. It’ll be very interesting to see how well that experiment works, and how long he sticks with it.

Michael Baumann sucks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On ESPN's programming decisions

Their decisions related to Sunday Night Baseball, specifically.  Deadspin linked to this earlier today, which is awesome--awesome enough for me to start reading Baseball Essential more regularly from now on.  While whoever wrote that post seemed to be trying not to over-editorialize, the results speak for themselves: ESPN, whenever possible, is going to show Yankees-Red Sox (or either of those teams even when they're not playing the other) no matter how those teams are playing.  If it's not one of those two, you've got a really good chance at seeing the Cardinals, Braves, Mets or Dodgers.  Just under 50% of SNB games since 2005 have included at least one of those teams.

Now, obviously I get that other than the Mets, who have sucked since 2009, those teams have all been very successful for most or all of the past decade.  No one wants to watch shitty teams play, so being a good team is a good way to make it into the only nationally televised game of the week that is alone in its timeslot.  But for fuck's sake, look at this graph from that post:

Total Appearances by Team <img src="images/" width="600" height="440" alt="A Decade of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball: Is It Really Always Red Sox/Yankees? - Sunday">

Are you shitting me?  The Blue Jays haven't even been that bad for the last decade.  Sure, no playoff appearances, but they've fielded some decent teams, finishing at or over .500 for 4 of the past 7 seasons and employing a couple different superstar caliber players in that time.  Add to that the fact that they're in the AL East, and thus have to have at least a couple Sunday games against the Yankees or Red Sox every season.  And they haven't been on fucking SNB fucking ONCE?  Christ on a crutch, that's embarrassing.  It's a little less egregious in the case of the Mariners, who have been pretty bad for a while, but their ballpark is awesome and they do have King Felix.  (Admittedly, it's hard to schedule a SNB game a couple months out and be sure he would start that night, but come on.)  ZERO appearances?  Apply similar logic to varying degrees as we go up the graph from right to left along the graph; when you factor in quality of team and size of fanbase, I think the relatively low numbers of White Sox, Rangers, Twins and Brewers games are also infuriating.

The question about these decisions on ESPN's part is one I've tackled a few times on this here blog, and I'm happy to tackle it again, because I am lazy and like recycling my own ideas like an unpaid version of Rick Reilly.  It's a chicken and egg problem--does ESPN only show the teams that seem to have gigantic fanbases all over the country, or are there gigantic fanbases for those first ten or so teams from left to right in part because ESPN (and MLB itself) forces those teams on everyone at every possible turn?  I'm sure the answer is "some of both," but what pisses me off is the way the other three main American sports leagues seem to not be nearly as egregious about this as MLB and its main primetime national TV partner are.

If the Grizzlies and  Trailblazers are both having a great season, ESPN is going to nationally televise their next game and people are going to watch.  If the Jaguars and Titans are both somehow 10-2 in early December, their divisional game is going to get flexed into Sunday Night Football and people are going to watch (apply same logic for ESPN's Monday Night Football scheduling the following season).  The NHL is actually closer to MLB in this regard than the NFL or NBA, as they don't do a particularly great job of promoting teams other than those in eastern Canada/the Great Lakes region/the Northeast, but 1) they don't have an ESPN contract so I know ESPN isn't complicit, and 2) I spend enough time on the hockey internetz to know that fans are most definitely talking quite a bit about the surprising Predators and Lightning this year--certainly more than I'd expect MLB fans to talk about the Astros and Padres if each are in first place come July.

Based on all this, I guess I have to conclude that there's something about baseball fans that pulls them towards the Yankees/Red Sox/etc. moreso than fans from other sports are pulled towards those sports' equivalent franchises.  By way of example, I'm sure the percentage of baseball fans residing Phoenix who are Yankees fans is way higher than the percentage of hockey fans who are (New York) Rangers fans.  But it's still goddamn ridiculous to look at SNB, which could definitely be used as a tool by the league (in dictating to ESPN what games they can choose for their broadcasts) to promote some up and coming teams, and see that the first five matchups in 2015 include Yankees-Red Sox twice, Yankees-Mets, Cubs-Cardinals and Cardinals-Reds.  That's one team slot out of ten filled by a team that isn't on national TV every goddamn week already via either an ESPN weeknight game or FOX's Saturday games.

I guess what I'm trying to say, besides go read that linked article for yourself, is fuck ESPN, fuck MLB, and fuck everything else.  I hate it all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Well, the GREATRIOTS did it

Well, after giving myself about ten days to process my feelings, I have come to accept what we all must accept: the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX.  None of us have to accept that Tom Brady is the greatest QB ever (he isn't) or that Belichick is the greatest coach ever (actually, we might have to accept that one).  But the game is done, and thus football season is done.  No more horrible Simmons gambling advice (not sure how he finished on the season, but rest assured that you would have lost money if you followed him).  No more getting mad at thinking about what TMQ is probably writing, even though I don't even read his column anymore.  But most of all, no more NFL for like 7 months--except the combine, the draft, OTAs, training camp, the preseason, and all the ridiculous non-stories we'll have to deal with while trying to pay attention to other sports all summer.   Feels good just saying it.

Before we go, though, just a reminder: the NFL is a fucking joke.

One more reminder that the NFL is a fucking joke.

And finally, a final reminder that the NFL is a fucking joke.

Moving on.

It's almost baseball season yayyyy yayyy yayyy!

/realizes he will once again watch his favorite team lose 90 games this summer

Eh, whatever.  Since it's baseball season might as well start focusing a little bit more on baseball writing.  I hate Jonah Keri (I believe I have established this) even though he's really not that bad of an analyst and an inoffensively mediocre writer.  So, I will pick on stuff he writes even when it's not flagrantly horrible.  YOU CAN'T STOP ME.  Here are some dopey thoughts of his from his "worst contracts in baseball" article from last week.  Most of his picks for the top 10 are fine--I only briefly touch on them at the end of the post.  It's the honorable mentions that mostly get my panties in a bundle.  (Side note: good for him for doing a worst contracts, rather than a "most trade value" article, because fuck Bill Simmons and fuck anyone who appropriates his concepts into their own articles.)  

DH Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians: two years, $30 million remaining

OF Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians: two years, $27.5 million

...I try not to weigh team finances too heavily when analyzing these contracts, I can’t discount that the Swisher and Bourn albatrosses will hurt the small-revenue Indians more than they would nearly any other team.

OK, I guess fair enough, those are some non-ideal contracts.  But really, didn't both of them get paid more or less their market value at the time the contracts were signed?  I mean, why make this list at all if you're just going to list every single player who is into his free agent years and hasn't played well lately?  Bourn was awesome in 2012 and OK in 2013.  Swisher was good in both 2012 and 2013.  They both sucked in 2014 and had they been free agents this winter they'd have gotten "prove it" one year deals.  But I'm not sure I see the point here.  More significantly:
SP Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs: two years, $22 million

Among pitchers with at least 140 innings, Jackson’s 6.33 ERA was the worst in baseball last year by nearly a full run. With Jon Lester and Jason Hammel now in the fold, Jackson isn’t even ticketed for the rotation anymore. That means he’s either going to be a mop-up man in 2015 or on the chopping block in spring training.

How about some consistency?  Jackson's contract is probably worse than Swisher's/Bourn's, but on the other hand, the Indians don't have a lot of money and are trying to win now.  The Cubs have tanker ships full of money, and aren't really looking to compete until next year.  They could give a shit about giving Jackson $11 million (not even that much for a shitty innings eater, by the by) to make 30 starts this year.  Maybe next year it's a problem, but come on.  It's the Cubs.  Whatever.

SS Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers: eight years, $120 million

Aside from the Boras lesson, the main takeaway here is one that we’ll repeat several times throughout this column: When dealing with players who are still under team control for a couple more years, clubs should tread very carefully before offering an extension that won’t kick in until those years have expired. The consequences of failing to exercise that care can be disastrous.

The Rangers actually have a pretty good revenue stream, so they very well may have foolishly jumped the gun when they gave Andrus that deal.  I mean "jumped the gun" in the sense that they didn't need to try to lock him up to a contract that they were hoping would be a discount over what he could make on the FA market two years later.  But the cautionary note up there is utterly useless for most of the teams that tend to sign players to these kinds of deals (Rays, Rockies, Indians, etc.).  Of COURSE it's risky to sign a player to a big contracts well before they hit free agency.  And then again, the alternative is probably losing that player when they hit free agency, which is risky as well.  Thanks for the GMing tip, Jonah.

SP Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks: one year, $14 million

Technically, Arroyo’s remaining deal is $9.5 million for 2015 plus a $4.5 million buyout to avoid his $11 million salary in 2016. Either way, the result is the same: Arroyo had Tommy John surgery in early July, making him a long shot to return before August and a virtual lock to deliver nothing of value for a moderate-payroll club that’s also overpaying Cody Ross and Trevor Cahill to not contribute.

Teams insure their contracts against major, predictable injuries, like, you know, pitchers who tear their UCLs.  There's no way this is even one of the 100 worst contracts in baseball right now.  Christ, I'd argue that Jon Lester's deal is worse than this one.

SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore Orioles: three years, $38.75 million


OK, you win this round, Jonah.  That's a terrible contract.  Fucking Ubaldo.  

/Larry B cries Rockies fan tears

1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds: nine years, $213 million

Votto signed his gigantic contract in April 2012, and in the two years since, I’ve agonized over whether to include him in my annual look at baseball’s best contracts; I left him off both times and got enough hate mail from Votto supporters to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. And understandably so: From 2010 through 2013, Votto was around a six-win player every year, and an MVP award winner in 2010.

How quickly things can change. In 2014, he missed 100 games and hit for less power than ever before. It’s human nature to fixate on the recent past, and it’s pretty terrifying to see a 31-year-old player who’s owed $213 million after a season in which he hit .255 with six home runs — terrifying enough to make four years of absolute dominance seem like a distant memory.

So, yeah, again--don't bother making this list if you're just going to list a bunch of guys who are no longer in their team-controlled years and had a bad 2014.  I actually think this belongs in consideration for the list to a greater degree than those "meh" Swisher, Bourn and Jackson contracts, because it's so enormously gigantic.  But Votto isn't just some guy who had a couple good seasons, cashed in, and is now in decline.  He was an MVP contender for five straight years, then got hurt for one, and his best skill is getting on base, which tends to age well.  Jonah seems to know and understand all this and yet here we are.  Annoying.

Now we move into the guys who actually made the top 10.  I was fine with most of the names (Fielder, Hamilton, Pujols, Upton--go find the article on Grantland if you want, I'm not going to link to it) but we have a couple of problems.

4. OF Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers: six years, $116 million (NR)

Oh come on.  Choo is like Votto-lite.  He was a 4 to 6 win player EVERY season from 2008 through 2013.  In fact, 2013 might have been his best year ever.  And like Votto, OBP is his best skill.  Now he stumbles in 2014 and he's got the 4th worst contract in the majors?  GMAFB.  It's especially insane when you factor in this:

7. 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: two years, $60 million (3)

Dude.  Choo was a mess last year, but he still had an OPS+ of 102 and an OBP of .340.  Even if he just rebounds a little bit in the coming years, and never makes it back to his 2013 form (which he still might do), he's a useful, above-average player.  You can make the playoffs with him hitting 2nd or 6th in your lineup.  Ryan Howard is absolutely worthless.  He hasn't even been above average since 2010.  His career is over.  There is, I don't know, like a 25% chance Choo lives up to the rest of his contract.  Maybe it's less than that.  But it's definitely greater than a 0% chance, which is the likelihood that Howard is worth more than even half his remaining contract.  I get that Choo gets dinged for having six years left instead of two, but he's also three years older than Choo, making it an absolute certainty that he's done.  What the hell is Choo doing ahead of him on this list?

Here’s another over-30 Ranger coming off an injury-plagued season who’s signed for waaaay too long and waaaay too much. Though Choo missed just 39 games last year, he first hurt his ankle back in April, so it’s possible a season-long mulligan is warranted. 

Again: guy has crappy 2014, and it's probably at least in part due to injury, and now he's got the 4th worst contract in the game somehow.  BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

2. SP Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers: three years, $41 million (NR)

When the Rangers gave Harrison his five-year, $55 million deal in January 2013, they were rewarding a 27-year-old durable ground ball pitcher who’d managed the rare feat of putting up solid numbers in the AL’s worst pitcher’s park, in the process buying out three years of arbitration and two years of free agency. Even though Harrison was never a big strikeout pitcher by the standards of the time, the contract didn’t seem like much of a reach.

But now here we are, with Harrison having made just six combined starts in the past two seasons and coming off spinal fusion surgery. It’s unclear if he’ll ever pitch again in the majors, let alone take the ball every fifth day and produce quality numbers.

Buddy, again, insurance--and it's not even that astronomical of a contract.  Second worst in MLB, after only A-Rod?  WORSE than BJ Upton?  I'm not a Rangers fan, but I'm thinking Jonah might have some kind of grudge against that organization for some reason.