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January 28, 2009

Prospectus Today

Catching Up

by Joe Sheehan

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Did I miss anything?

I've been absent of late for a mix of reasons. I'm writing from Los Angeles right now, coming to the end of a two-week break in warm…well, warmer…weather than New York provides while seeing friends during what is about the only time left on the baseball calendar that can be considered "slow." Then again, there really is no slow season any longer, what with the postseason ending later and later, and free agents and teams more than happy to extend their dance well past Little Christmas.

If you're assembling a book or trying to recharge your personal batteries, it can be a little aggravating to have so many unknowns so close to the Super Bowl. Then again, it's probably worse for the free agents trying to secure jobs and the general managers with roster holes.

In any case, the last few weeks were a bit more active than I'd hoped, so let's briefly get caught up, with an eye towards hitting the ground running on Thursday. (Admittedly, the ground might be hardwood, so check Basketball Prospectus-where I've been spending most of my time-for an imminent byline.)

  • I don't really care what a "Jay McGwire" is. Truly. Maybe I don't get to say this, being an only child, but if your existence is so empty that you have to write a book about your brother to become a person, you'd be better off as a tester for experimental parachute designs. "Out of love"? Really? Your brother wants nothing more, as is clear by his actions, than to be left alone, and you think putting him in the spotlight by telling decade-old stories is love? Just go away.

    Of course, he's telling the story some people want to hear, so he'll get his 15 minutes. In the same way that Jose Canseco and Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee and other paragons of society have value because they're feeding the approved narrative, so too will McGwire have his voice heard. It sure is a good thing MLB spent $30 million on their Truth Commission so that this story would go away.

  • Jeff Kent is a Hall of Famer. If you don't accept this, you either have an exceptionally small Hall or an exceptionally small brain. The guy combined bat and glove at a tough position for a decade, and although the mainstream press underrated his defense for years, there's no reason we have to do so. Throw in post-season work that is a mark in his favor, and it's not unreasonable to think he should be a first-ballot guy, if that distinction matters. I'm not completely sure who the fifth-best second baseman in history is, and I'm open to the idea that it was Jeff Kent, especially if peak is your primary criterion.

  • Maybe Joe Torre should have kept his mouth shut. I mostly think we should wait until the book comes out to pass judgment. With that said, we've seen this before. In the summer of 2007, Torre was far too opinionated about Alex Rodriguez in a long Tom Verducci piece for Sports Illustrated that became a cause celebre for that Yankee team. Torre subsequently ratcheted up the pressure on-or perhaps, embarrassment of-Rodriguez by sliding him to eighth in the lineup in the AL Division Series. In both cases, Torre chose to do the opposite of what he'd done so well after taking over the team: shield the players from the madness. This act, opening up in Verducci's new book, is more consistent with the recent version of Torre than with the 1996 version we lionized in New York.

  • No, I don't think we're seeing collusion. It's a perfect storm of a bad economy, a free-agent pool in which the talent was clustered in a few limited areas, a tipping point in terms of how defense is evaluated and valued (hence all the bad-defense left fielders left waiting), and just random variation.

  • No, I don't know where Manny Ramirez will sign. I get this question a dozen times a day, easy. Manny Ramirez has been inscrutable for the better part of two decades; why are we now supposed to think that he's predictable? He'll sign somewhere for less than anyone thought he'd get and hit a bunch, play poor defense, and be lampooned by the local media. There's some Andre Dawson potential here, where Ramirez just signs for a pittance on a one-year deal wherever he wants to play the most, and goes nuts for the six months.

Back tomorrow with more.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

23 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

BillyB

Basketball Prospectus?? Say it ain't so Joe! To paraphrase Col. Nathan Jessup: We want you on this page, we need you on this page.

Jan 28, 2009 09:54 AM
rating: 0
 
fenwaysro

Jaffe wasn't exactly tripping over himself to declare Kent a HOFer.

Jan 28, 2009 11:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Drew Miller

Maybe a third category is in order: "exceptionally wrong JAWS", maybe?

No offense, Joe, but you just managed to insult some readers as well as (probably) Mr. Jaffe.

Jan 28, 2009 15:27 PM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Since Joe's the BP 'Boss' and Jay one of the 'bossees', I see no problem with this. Besides, I thought you Joe fans liked his insults.

Jan 28, 2009 16:48 PM
rating: 0
 
SaberTJ

Although I agree with you Billy, I am sure Joe will be front and center on this page when the baseball season is full bore in late February.

Jan 28, 2009 11:34 AM
rating: 0
 
Aaron/YYZ

So you're predicting Manny to Toronto?

Jan 28, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
joel3green

Manny to the Yanks for the major league minimum?

Jan 28, 2009 12:26 PM
rating: 0
 
tooci4

You say no collusion, does that include the situation with Barry Bonds?

Jan 28, 2009 13:06 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

"I don’t really care what a "Jay McGwire" is."

Why not Joe, are you afraid you might learn something? How can you be so closed-minded to the possibility that he might have something to offer?

Might it be that BP, MLB, and you think they already know all they need to know (or all they want to know) about the subject?

"I want MARK to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom - which is the only way to live."

Seems there are a lot of possible substitutes in the above sentence for "MARK".

Much better than the Sgt. Schultz "I know nothing!"

Jan 28, 2009 13:42 PM
rating: 2
 
diperna

"Why not Joe, are you afraid you might learn something? How can you be so closed-minded to the possibility that he might have something to offer?"

I can't speak for Joe, obviously, but I can for myself: I don't care whether some players use steroids and some don't. I don't care which players used steroids and which didn't. So Jay McGwire has nothing to offer me.

His accusations are only relevant to the question of whether McGwire used steroids, which is a discussion I'll have, but not because the conclusion interests me in and of itself -- only because there is a bizarre mentality surrounding this issue, that facts are not necessary to support a conclusion of steroid use.

Jan 28, 2009 14:04 PM
rating: 2
 
sbnirish77

Why don't you care if he used steroids or not? Is it because you have already decided that they can't enhance performance? If so you are just as closed-minded as Joe but for a different reason.

Its pretty clear that we don't know eveyting there is to know about past steroid use. Just because we never will doersn't mean we shouldn't seek to garner as much information as possible.

I just want to know why so many otherwise wise and educated people would choose to close the door on additional information regardless of source? Information, in and of itself, isn't bad. You might reject the credibilty of the source but I (and you should too) want to hear the witnesses.

To do so otherwise is simply deciding to make up your mind before all the evidence is in.

Jan 29, 2009 10:38 AM
rating: -1
 
Evan
(47)

I don't care if he used steroids because I don't care about steroids. Especially back during Mark's career when they weren't even against the rules.

Jan 29, 2009 15:54 PM
rating: 1
 
TaylorSanders

The idea, if Jay McGwire is being truthful, is that once Mark McGwire admits he used steroids a burden will be lifted and he can get on with things without all of the speculation etc...

Jan 29, 2009 14:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

Mark's brother's book probably has some truth in it, some damning truth. But what kind of brother sells out his other brother?

Jan 28, 2009 15:25 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

"I want MARK to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom - which is the only way to live."

Yeah, publishing a "tell-all" book that embarasses your brother, but puts some coin in your pocket, is an effective way to set him free. More than, say, sitting down with him and just talking privately? What? Mark doesn't want to talk to his brother? Gee, I wonder why.

Jan 28, 2009 15:37 PM
rating: 0
 
davelamb

I can see it clearly... Manny to the Giants, Manny gets them the NL West, Lincecum gets them the ring. What am I missing?

Jan 28, 2009 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
WCE

Dave - dream a little bigger, Manny to the Giants, with Barry back to caddy for him. If you're going to have a circus, why settle for anything less than 3 rings? And sign Adam Dunn, too.

Also, I too, don't care what a Jay McGwire is. What is there left to say in this ongoing crusade against something that had the tacit approval of everyone from Selig, to the players, to the union, to the other owners, to media and the fans themselves? Pious statements about living in truth aside, aren't there bigger fish to fry in MLB, let alone the world?


Jan 28, 2009 14:38 PM
rating: 1
 
Random

They've got this fan's explicit approval. (When used as directed>)

Jan 29, 2009 16:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Lou Doench

Manny Ramirez... Cincinnati Red... Lets make it happen folks... Yes We Can!

Jan 28, 2009 14:54 PM
rating: 0
 
Sam Miller

Small correction -- Torre batted ARod eighth in the 2006 playoffs, so it couldn't have been subsequent to a 2007 magazine article.

Jan 28, 2009 15:57 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I still don't understand why "we should wait until the book comes out to pass judgment" on Torre (and Verducci), but I see posts by many journalists that, based on what Ray McGwire said/wrote, we should somehow force Mark McGwire to speak out.

Why do we give Torre and Verducci the benefit of the doubt when we gobble up leaked grand jury testimony?

Jan 28, 2009 17:48 PM
rating: 2
 
cordially
(917)

"Jeff Kent is a Hall of Famer. If you don’t accept this, you either have an exceptionally small Hall or an exceptionally small brain."

If this had been written about Rice by some grizzled old sportswriter, you'd be condescending all over it and not even bothering to wipe. The force of the statement falls far short of the quality of the following insight.

Jan 28, 2009 19:57 PM
rating: 8
 
nitetrain

Agreed.

Jan 30, 2009 14:27 PM
rating: 0
 
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