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.


Bengoodfella said...


Anonymous said...

'Nuff said:


CHart said...

Say what you will about the farm system, but the Rockies' front office is a total dumpster fire.

Larry B said...

Sure, but the Phillies have both a terrible front office AND a terrible farm system. And the Diamondbacks have a terrible front office and a mediocre farm system. The Rockies are no worse than the third worst-off team in the NL. Everything's looking up!

CHart said...

No way, the Rockies are also better off than... [thinking]... [goes through mental checklist of other NL teams]... [punches hole in hat]

ivn said...

speaking of Jonah Keri, today he referred to Mitch Moreland as a "utilityman."

as we all know, "utilityman" is baseball lingo for "first baseman who plays right field once every ten games or so": http://i.imgur.com/gm8NJ3f.png

tony harding said...

Larry B batsignal:


How? How did this fucking happen? And he's now got 2 new websites:


Ridiculous. Guess nothing gets rid of roaches...

Larry B said...

Just saw this. I'll take a look.