Category Archives: Bad Journalism

Do the Jays want to get Young-er? I’m so Punny.

There’s been an idea floating around the interwebbing tubes since the Vernon Wells trade and it seems to have intensified since Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos flipped Mike Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco.

This idea had only really been proposed by a few bloggers and blog commenters and by some in-passing tweets, so I was willing to let it slide without comment, but now someone close to the Jays with knowledge of them has brought this idea to the forefront.

I picked up a copy of the Toronto Star yesterday and Jays’ columnist Richard Griffin wrote an article asking if Rangers infielder Michael Young could be the next piece of the puzzle in T.O.

Could it happen? Michael Young playing third base for the Blue Jays on opening day 2011 and Jose Bautista moving back to his preferred position of right field?

So, what Mr. Griffin is essentially saying here is that he thinks the Jays are logically looking at acquiring Young, but a couple things don’t quite jive here.

First off, the Jays and Rangers just completed the deal for Napoli and Francisco.  Although it’s possible that they may hook up on a deal in the future, I firmly believe that if they were going to, they would have worked something out at that time.

Secondly, why would the Jays’ take on Young’s salary after finally unloading another contract that was considered an albatross for the franchise?  After shedding Wells’ remaining 4 years and $86-million, why would Anthopoulos then trade for another player who is two years older than Wells and is under contract for 3 more years and $48-million?

Thirdly, Young is not at all a fit for this team.  Yes, he’s a third-baseman and the Jays could, in theory, use another player who can man that position, but Young is 34 years old and horrid defensively.  In fact, Young was one of the worst defensive third-basemen in all of baseball in 2010.  Why do you think the Rangers went after Adrian Beltre?

Also, being that Young is in his mid-30s, he’s bound to start declining at the plate at any moment.  In fact, you could argue that he already is.  Take out his lofty 2009 numbers and it appears as though Young is losing his bat, slowly but surely.

In 2005, Young posted a career-best .899 OPS.  Since then, he’s posted OPS numbers of .814 in 2006, .783 in 2007, .741 in 2008 and .774 last season.

His home run and RBI numbers stay up, but everything else is slowly heading southward.  Young may not be declining as fast as some players but make no mistake, he will continue to get worse over the duration of his contract.  Couple that with his atrocious defence and that $16-million per season looks like almost as much of an albatross as Wells’ deal.

Griffin continues…

On the one hand, the Jays need a starting third baseman if they want to move Bautista back to the outfield — where he believes his future lies — and tempt him to stay. On the other hand, the Rangers need to dump significant payroll if they want to remain close to the comfortable $64 million to $70 million (all figures U.S.) in total salary they’ve had since 2006. Yes, they have new, financially sound ownership but already, with 17 players under contract, their 2011 payroll without Young is $75.1 million.

First off, the Jays have made no indication that they even want to sign Bautista long-term until they have a better idea of what they’re getting from him going forward.  The idea that acquiring Young would convince him to stay long-term is sort of missing the point and doesn’t make a lot of sense.  It assumes that Bautista would leave if the Jays don’t acquire somebody to play third and that’s a completely baseless assumption.

Secondly, Griffin states that “the Rangers need to dump significant payroll,” which is actually quite untrue.  The Rangers were ready and willing to fork over a lot of cash to keep Cliff Lee from walking and have stated publicly that they intend to increase the team’s salary going forward.

Griffin again…

Young is still their most expensive player. With the signing of Adrian Beltre and the trade with the Jays that brought Mike Napoli over in exchange for reliever Frank Francisco, all of a sudden the 34-year-old Young is a backup at both third and first base. He’s still listed as the No. 1 DH, but Napoli is a power option there. So why would the Rangers want to pay Young $48 million for the next three years as a part-time glove?

I’m not saying that the Rangers wouldn’t trade Young if they could, but they probably aren’t too worried about playing Young in a DH/1B role with Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland.  Considering Napoli will likely catch most often, Young will still have plenty of at-bats between the two positions; he’d hardly be a part time player.

Then Griffin goes off on a tangent that makes even less sense…

Need a clue that something with the Jays and Young could be in the works? Vernon Wells was asked during a Tuesday conference call where he’d been when Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos called to ask him to waive his no-trade clause, to consent to go to Anaheim in trade.

“I was at the Mavericks-Lakers game with my wife and, ironically, with Michael Young and his wife,” Wells said. “I got the call at halftime and missed most of the rest of the game.”

Ironically? Why would Wells use that word for something that was merely coincidental?

The reality of the financial crisis in Texas is that ever since the Rangers signed Beltre to play third, trading Young and his salary has been a distinct possibility. The Jays, after clearing the decks of the remaining $86 million on Wells’ contract — even including a reported $5 million cash payment to the Angels, even with taking two veteran salaries totalling $11 million off Anaheim’s hands — would have room for Young and his $16 million per over the next three years. If we’ve learned anything from Anthopoulos’s year-plus as GM, it’s that if there is a player of talent and controllability on the market, the Jays will ask about him and kick the tires.

Okay, so Wells and Young were together at a basketball game when Anthopoulos called Wells about the trade possibility.  Then Wells wrongly used the word “ironically” and Griffin took that as inside information that Young could be headed to the Jays.

I think Alanis Morrisette taught us that ‘ironic’ is the most misused word in the English language; we probably shouldn’t take that too seriously.

Do I doubt that Anthopoulos has kicked the tires with Young?  No.  In fact, I think his job as a general manager is to do just that, even if there is virtually no interest.  Not to mention that the Jays seem to be in on every rumour, no matter how small.

I’m sorry, but the Jays’ acquiring Young after finally unloading Wells would be counter-productive to the philosophy that Anthopoulos claims to be following.

If Young was a free agent, I think he’d be a spectacular pickup on a one-year deal for $5-million or less, but for three more years and $48-million?  Come on, Mr. Griffin, does that make any sense given the direction of the team?

Finally, Griffin subtly criticizes the Jays’ front office for essentially throwing in the towel on 2011 before the season even begins…

On Wednesday, SI.com named Anthopoulos baseball’s top winner of the 2010-11 off-season. That’s very nice, but as far as Jays fans are concerned, Anthopoulos needs to do far more heading into next season in terms of trying to win now. Should fans simply cancel their 2011 season tickets and come back in 2012 when they are ready to compete?

Last time I checked, a team with a lineup that includes the reigning home run king and plenty of talented hitters such as Yunel Escobar, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and Travis Snider as well as a rotation with some of the best young talent in the league and a stacked bullpen with plenty of serviceable arms was an exciting team to watch.

The Jays’ may not be a full-fledged contender today, but the potential is there very soon, and hell, they could surprise people even in 2011 with a talented club and a terrific minor-league system.

Given what Jays’ fans have endured since their last playoff appearance in 1993, 2011 should be viewed as nothing but a positive; and Anthopoulos should be lauded for the job he’s done since taking over for J.P. Riccardi in 2009.

Adding another overpaid player well into their declining years is not the answer; it’s in fact a blind step backward.  I would argue that Young would make the Jays only marginally better in 2011 and could weight them down significantly over the next few years.  Completely. Not. Worth. It.  It flat out flies in the face of logic.

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Today in bad journalism: Ken Fidlin, Toronto Sun

Now, I don’t claim to be a professional journalist; even though technically I am (I write wire service re-writes for barely minimum wage, so not really), but I can’t help but think that I would be better at it than a lot of people who currently call themselves journalists.

Is that a ‘high horse, down my nose’ opinion?  You’re damn straight it is.  But, why have a blog is you can’t be critical of the stupid shit that sometimes goes on in the profession?

This time ‘round, I’m not referring to Jon Heyman, although we all know my distaste for him; no, no, this time I’m referring to Toronto Sun writer Ken Fidlin.

You see, just hours after the Vernon Wells trade on Friday night, Mr. Fidlin wrote himself an article.  It started off well enough as Fidlin recognized what seemingly every non-MLB Network moron realized; that the this was a deal meant to give the Jays’ franchise a lot more financial flexibility going forward.

Then Fidlin loses me:

“This is all good for the long-term outlook for the franchise, but it can’t be considered anything but an immediate step backward.  Wells, for all the criticism he has borne since he signed that monster $126-million deal after the 2006 season, remained the face of the franchise and a class act in most every way”

As I detailed on Saturday, the acquisition of Napoli alone is comparable to Wells at a fraction of the price.  His career on-base percentage, slugging percentage, (obviously) OPS and walk-rate are all better than Wells’; and he did it in a known pitcher’s ballpark, whereas Wells has spent his career in the SkyDome/Rogers Centre which routinely ranks as one of the more hitter friendly parks in the game.  Not to mention that Napoli is only 29 compared to Wells’ 32.

Acquiring Napoli also removes Wells from centerfield, where his ability has most certainly deteriorated to the point where he can’t really be considered an option there much longer.  Rajai Davis and even Corey Patterson are much better options defensively.  That of course, does not stop Fidlin from saying stupid things.

“…as much as people have been picking at Wells’ defence, he was still good enough to make an all-star team in 2010, providing veteran leadership in the locker room.  The contract was a mistake, a huge overpay as it turned out, but that can’t take away from the contributions he made on and off the field and in the community.”

Oh well shit, he made an All-Star team last year.  I stand corrected on everything!  I forgot that All-Star game selections precluded defensive success and were not totally arbitrary and pretty much useless.  I have been shown the error of my ways!

Although Fidlin is admitting that the Wells contract was a bad one, he is citing that the Jays are worse off because of, among other things, Wells’ contributions on and off the field (which were great, don’t get me wrong) and the fact that he was a leader in the locker room; even though baseball doesn’t really have locker rooms, they have clubhouses, but that’s not important here.

It’s almost as if Fidlin is subtly trying to make the case that Wells’ demeanour and community reputation should allow us to put up with his terrible contract.  Again, Wells was great in this regard, but this trade still cannot be viewed as anything but positive for Toronto.

Then Fidlin decides to comment on what the Jays received in return for Wells; and this is where it’s clear he did not do his research.

“Napoli is an all-or-nothing slugger…coincidentally a similar player to the departed John Buck”

Except that the two are miles apart in both on-base percentage (.346-.301) and slugging percentage (.485-.421), suggesting that Napoli has far more power and is far more patient at the plate.  The only really comparable things are their defence and their batting average, which is clearly where Fidlin stopped his research.

Fidlin then goes on to subtly suggest that along with Jason Frasor and Jose Bautista, the Jays will be overpaying all three in arbitration negotiations.

“[Napoli] will be Toronto’s second-highest paid player behind Jose Bautista. He will join Bautista and Jason Frasor as players who are possibly headed for an arbitration hearing.

Napoli has asked for $6.1 million and the Angels offered him $5.3 million. Bautista is going to be paid at least $7.6 million even if he loses his case, but he will get $10.5 if he wins it.”

Because, you know, three players for one season each whose collective salaries still wouldn’t add up to Wells’ 2011 salary even in the worst-case scenario is clearly a bad financial call.

Fidlin suggests that there are too many corner-infielder/DH/catcher-types on the team without realizing that J.P. Arencibia is by no means a tested talent and could show that he’s not quite ready to handle the everyday catching job just yet; and Adam Lind cannot hit lefties to save his life.

“Napoli’s presence also puts Molina on notice. There are only so many first base/DH at-bats available. Lind is going to get his four swings per game, either at DH or first base. Encarnacion could also end up as a bench player.”

Napoli fits in nicely given his favourable splits and ability to handle both catcher and first base.  I firmly believe that either way, Jose Molina has a spot on this roster in 2011; or at least until Arencibia proves himself to be ready beyond a reasonable doubt.

All of this leads to Fidlin’s final claim:

“There is little question that Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell want to change the offensive approach of this team. Getting Davis installed as the leadoff hitter will be a start, but none of the other newcomers has any of the qualities that haven’t been present in the recent past. This is still a team that will have to rely on the three-run homer and there is one less bat in the middle of the order to deliver it.”

Now, we all know that Juan Rivera was a throw-in to this deal, in order to balance the Angels’ budget, but $5.25-million for one season is nothing compared to $86-million for four, so I’m willing to overlook a player I would hope would never otherwise be a Blue Jay.

Napoli, on the other hand, does bring something different, and it does fit into Anthopoulos and Farrell’s new approach.  He’s a very patient hitter; his career walk rate of 11.1% is actually well above average.

Not only that, but Napoli is a more consistent home run hitter than Wells, so saying the Jays are less capable of hitting the three-run home run is actually quite uninformed.  He said himself that that was the one redeeming quality about Napoli.

Not only that, but Napoli’s ability to get on base should actually increase the ability of the team to hit three-run home runs.

For some reason, Fidlin seems to think that there is a downside to this trade.  When Wells regresses back to his old self this season, he’ll eat his words.

Before you go, here are some interesting links regarding the Wells trade:

MLB Trade Rumors takes a look at the future payroll obligations for the Blue Jays and gives you some reasons to be extremely hopeful if you follow the team.

And the Orange County Register illustrates the Vernon Wells trade in a word cloud from the Angels’ fans and Jays’ fans perspective, pretty freaking hilarious stuff.

This just in: Jon Heyman is classless AND he sucks at his job.

There is a particular trait missing from many people these days: class.  SI.com baseball writer Jon Heyman (who looks eerily like Mark Teixeira) is one of those people.

There’s the obvious reasons, of course; Heyman practically spit on deserving Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven just before his induction was announced by producing this convoluted diatribe urging Mr. Blyleven to be thankful that a pitcher of his ilk could gain induction to such a prestigious body, because in his mind, he didn’t deserve it one bit.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC SportsHardball Talk does a great job of telling us why that piece was such a load of crap, I don’t need to deconstruct it further.

Then there’s his general lack of acceptance of anything modern in baseball analysis.  Sure, he’s not alone in this regard; there are plenty of “old school” journalists out there who seem to pride themselves on ignorance in the face of new, more comprehensive ways of analysing the game, but Heyman seems to take it to a different level.

Right after Carl Crawford signed in Boston, for instance, Heyman was tweeting that Crawford was a fine player, but probably didn’t deserve the money he was getting considering he has never hit 20 homeruns in a season.  Now, maybe Crawford doesn’t deserve what he received, but his homerun totals have nothing to do with why.  Anyone with half a baseball brain knows this.

He then went on to say that he thought Jayson Werth was a better fit for the BoSox given that he was a right-handed batter and possessed more homerun hitting power.*

Is there a person on the planet who knows anything about baseball who would think the Red Sox made the wrong decision in choosing Crawford over Werth, besides maybe Nationals GM Mike Rizzo?

Then yesterday comes along and with it the rather shocking retirement of Royals pitcher Gil Meche at just 32 years of age, leaving behind the final year of his contract and over $12-million.  Meche decided he couldn’t provide a solid enough return for the Royals and so would rather not waste their money.  Perhaps the first time a pro-athlete, or anyone, has walked away from that much guaranteed cash.

But Heyman again took to his Twitter account and criticized Meche for being “close to [the] most average pitcher [of] all time” and also one of the most “over-rated/overpaid.”

I’ll let the great Joe Posnanski tell you why that’s idiotic, he’s better at it than me and comes up with a lot more points than I could have.  But damn it all if I’m having a hard time figuring out why Heyman decides he’s going to be tactless on the day a guy leaves the game he loves because of injuries and misuse (which led to said injuries).

Bad journalism and refusal to evolve aside, Heyman continues to show me what I hope I never become: A tactless and ignorant baseball journalist who seems to enjoy his seat on his incredibly shaky high-horse.

Am I overreacting?  Probably.  Do I care?  Not in the least.

*of course, searching for Twitter posts from over a month ago is impossible so I can’t find them, but take my word for it.  There were other credible witnesses to this idiocy.