One of the best things about being involved with BP is the people you meet. Since we started doing Pizza Feeds a couple of years back, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several hundred people who trudge their way to a Feed, all of whom have an intense interest in baseball, and all of whom are very generous with their time and support. It’s pretty common for people to hang out and talk after the main event’s over. Sometimes, someone will have an in-depth topic they want a long answer on, or they want to talk about available positions with BP or in a front office, or they want to argue with me about Derek Jeter’s defense.
The most common question I get after the end of the feed is about books. Some recurring themes come up during the evening, and one of them is often: “What skills does a general manager really need?” The question that inevitably follows is: “What books do you think a GM should read when they first get the job?” It’s a good question, so I thought I’d make some suggestions here. I’m going to stay away from baseball books, including our own, and focus instead on the first books anyone should they read if they’re going to be serious about their business. Many of these books are applicable to a number of industries, but I believe they’re particularly relevant to running a major league club. So, in no particular order:
There has never been a season when Barry Bonds was obviously the league’s best player that he did not win the MVP award. Were he to lose the award this season (he is currently leading in VORP by 17 runs over Albert Pujols) it would be his first real injustice. If Bonds has not been mistreated by MVP voters though, several stars of the past have been. Although it has been 80 years since anyone has hit like Bonds has the past few years, there have been occasions when a player has dominated his league for several years and been ill-served by the voters. The rest of this article briefly discusses a few of the more famous cases. Ted Williams’ problem was that he played in a time when it was difficult to win the award without winning the pennant, and his team finished second every year. From 1941 through 1954, Williams led the league in VORP every season that he wasn’t either in the military (five years) or hurt (1950). He won two awards: 1946, when the Red Sox finished first, and 1949, when they finished one game behind. Let’s run through a few of the more interesting losses:
Milton Bradley wants to start running more. Eric Gagne is a legitimate part of the Cy Young discussion. And Mariners keep making the Devil Rays look like a race of supermen. All this and much more news from Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Hideo Nomo gets bonus points for admitting he was hurt, but not as many as he would have gotten had he said something when it first started hurting. The Dodgers on the other hand are…well, I don’t want to say that word. We’ll say obfuscating, how’s that? Calling inflammation of his rotator cuff the result of fatigue is…what’s the word? Crap. Pure crap. Inflammation comes from irritation and overuse. While fatigue might have something to do with poor mechanics, calling it the cause is insulting to medheads. Frank Jobe’s legacy deserves better than the current problems in the Dodgers training room.
Sixty-three. Sixty-four. Sixty-five. Sixty-six. Sixty-seven. At last count, 67 of you kind souls let me know that Derek Jeter would be out this weekend with a strained oblique. He’ll miss the Red Sox series. Allow me to refresh your short-term memories–look at what I said on Wednesday regarding Jeter. Good thing they signed Luis Sojo, eh?
If you’re avoiding watching the Tigers, you’re missing out on some interesting baseball. Among the more interesting parts is Danny Patterson, a former Ranger that came over in the Juan Gonzalez deal and has been injured seemingly ever since. Patterson has picked up some saves, but he’s been phenomenal out of the bullpen since returning. He’s definitely one of those guys you want to have in any pen or if you’re looking at names at the end of your 2004 fantasy draft, Patterson’s isn’t a bad name to call out.