keyboard_arrow_uptop


BASEBALL PROSPECTUS 2002


When will I recieve my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2002?

–Many People


Baseball Prospectus 2002 will arrive in our publisher’s warehouse
on Tuesday, February 5. From there, it will be sent to resellers
and on to you. To aid in comparison, we’re four days behind the
timetable for last year’s book, so if you ordered that online,
you can expect to get it about four days later than you did last
year.

Something we’ve neglected to publish previously is Brassey’s direct
order number. By calling 800 775 2518 and ordering a copy of this
year’s book, you should get your book a few days earlier than
any other method. The downside is that you’ll have to pay the
full cover price.

If this impacts your fantasy draft, we’d like to hear about it.
Click here
to drop me a line.

–Dave Pease


REVENUE SHARING


Marvin Miller understood that by putting limits on free agency,
the supply would be kept low, thus driving up the price.

If the owners want to keep down labor costs without taking a PR hit, why
don’t they propose free agency for all players at the end of every
contract?

Premier free agents would get top dollar, while marginal talents would
have to scramble for jobs. The players union would seem greedy if
they opposed the idea.

–Ted Baker


Setting aside the issue of whether Miller really believes (-ed)
this, the problems this type of structure creates are so
wide-ranging as to make it unworkable. The entire MLB/MinLB
relationship would have to be rebuilt; year-to-year planning
would become impossible; the whining about how players
moved too much would rise to frightening levels…

I’m just scratching the surface… it’s an argument people like
to throw out as a "take that, MLBPA," but in actuality, this
would be a disaster for baseball, and has no chance of
ever being implemented.

–Joe Sheehan


If the problem truly is the Yankees, couldn’t something be done to erode
their considerable local revenue? Perhaps introducing one or two more teams
to the New York area? Brooklyn Expos anyone?

It seems to me that introducing an additional team to the NY area would
be better for baseball as a whole than introducing a team to the Northern
Virginia area. Doing so would, hopefully, erode some of of the Yankees’
market share, yet give a team more potential revenues (1/3 of the New York
market, in the long run) than 1/2 of Northern Virginia/Baltimore area.

Both would bring litigation, but what are your opinions on what would be
best for the game?

–Joshua Hall


I’ve come out in favor of Northern New Jersey expansion
in the past, but the more I think about it, there are at
least two big problems:

  1. Differentiation. A new team would be in the same league,
    and almost certainly the same division, as an existing New York
    franchise. There’s a loss in value to a newcomer who’s not
    selling a distinct product.

  2. Options. No one is clamoring to move to Northern New Jersey, no
    one there is clamoring for a baseball team, and the economic
    state of New Jersey is such that public financing isn’t going
    to happen.

In priniciple, I like the idea for what the effects should be.
In actuality, I don’t know how successful a third NY team would
be.

–Joe Sheehan


THE LEGEND OF JACK MORRIS


I think part of the reason for Jack Morris’s "legend" is just that he’s
about the best that we’ve got for the 1980s, other than Roger Clemens.
For a defensive era, that decade is mightly short on great pitchers.

And the funny thing is, that no matter how baseball writers try to beatify
the guy, Morris’s legend just never took hold among fans. The writers just
can’t seem to grasp that a decade might only produce one real whiz-bang
Hall-of-Fame starting pitcher. They figure that there HAS to be more, and
that we just haven’t found them yet. Maybe David Cone. Maybe Dennis
Martinez, if we squint hard enough.

The real question for me is next year, does Eddie Murray get in on his first
try? Or are the current crop of guys like McGwire, Bagwell, Thomas, etc.
so far above him that he now looks marginal? Sure, at the time he was
great, but now he looks kind of weak in comparison…. Although I dare say it’s
interesting to see how Thomas turns out in the end.

–CR


You touched on a couple of things that really interested me while I
was writing this article. One is our fascination with decades, and
how that benefits Morris. As you say, perhaps the most prevalent of
the pro-Morris arguments is that he was the "pitcher of the 1980’s",
and that’s mostly just an accident of timing. Morris just happened to
concentrate most of his good seasons in years whose third digit was
"8", and somehow some significance has gotten attached to that fluky
fact. Comparable pitchers, say Bret Saberhagen and Frank Viola, who
spread their good seasons more evenly between the ’80s and the ’90s,
won’t get that same advantage.

(By the way, my own pick for the pitcher of the 80s is Dave Stieb, not
Morris.)

The other thing relates to your point about the Morris legend not
taking hold among the fans. It’s not just fans: 80% of the BBWAA
aren’t buying the Morris legend either. That strikes me as a little
odd given that Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark, and Joe Morgan are
all such big Morris supporters. How is it that all three of these
influential, well-connected guys are so out of the mainstream on the
Morris issue? It’s not impossible that they’d all happen to be in
the minority in this one case, obviously; it’s just a little
surprising.

You raise a good point about Murray, but I’m guessing he’ll make it
next year.

–Michael Wolverton


Thanks for speaking out about this fallacy that Gammons, Stark, and Morgan
have been spreading for years. I also get sick of hearing those same tired
arguments about the World Series. Using the same reasoning, I could start
a similar campaign to get other October heroes in the hall. Pepper Martin,
Don Larsen, Chuck Essegian, the list is endless.

The bottom line is that Morris had one great game that everyone has
canonized and somehow made emblematic of his entire career. I’ve even been an ardent
defender of Lonnie Smith’s baserunning over the years, but it still doesn’t
help Morris’ cause. Let’s not forget that Lonnie hit the grand slam that slew
this mythical hero in Game 5 the very next year.

–Shane Demmitt


It’s funny how sportswriters will use an argument for a particular
player that they clearly wouldn’t want applied to all players, e.g.,
your point about World Series heroes. My favorite recent one is
in the Bill Simmons column,
where he’s making a case against Bert
Blyleven
: "I can’t remember coming home from school and having my
father say to me, ‘Let’s go to Fenway and scalp tickets — Bert
Blyleven’s in town!’ He’s out."

Now, I fully realize that 99% of Simmons’ material is tongue-in-cheek,
but still… If that’s your standard, then Al Kaline and Billy
Williams are out, while Deion Sanders, Al Hrabosky, and Fernando
Valenzuela are in. Plus, Simmons is vigorously campaigning for Jack
Morris just a few paragraphs later — who scalped tickets just to see
Jack Morris?

–Michael Wolverton


TRANSACTIONS FEEDBACK


I love your work, and as a Mets fan, understand why a sabermetrics
guy would not be a big fan of the organization. But would you please explain
why you single them out for abuse?

–GM


I’m not anti-Mets. Actually, (as the next TA will reveal) I’m impressed with
the swag from the Burnitz deal. As the final shoe dropping on a busy winter,
it leads to an interesting set of acquisitions.
And
as I stated in the last TA
, I like the upside of the risk involved in
signing Pedro Astacio.

As for singling them out, well, I don’t really think so. After all, I doubt
the Devil Rays love what I’ve had to say over the years, or the Tigers, or
the Royals. If there are any Gord Ash defenders left, I think they’d still
ask why I never had a kind word for the Menace from the Great White North. I
just call things as I see them.

–Chris Kahrl


I agree with your assessment of Barry Bonds.
He’s a stinker, has always
been a stinker, and will always be a stinker; pretty much as his father was.
It’s an old story,no longer news, and I’m tired of hearing about it. We
should, however, appreciate him for what he also is: argueably the best
player of our era and maybe of all time. Still, I question the wisdom of
signing a 38-year-old to a five-year contract for so much money. Do you
agree?

–EK


I wouldn’t venture the opinion that Barry Bonds is a bad or a good guy,
because I’m not in a position to know, and frankly, I don’t care. My
relationship with Barry Bonds is that I’m a baseball
fan/enthusiast/writer/analyst/whatever, and he’s the best player of his
generation, and one of the greatest of all time. What I get is entertainment
watching the man play, and what he gets is the enjoyment of playing and a
nice compensation package.

Now, is he worth the big money for five years? I think so, but that’s in
comparison to the expectation that he’d get even more years out of other
non-materializing deals. My personal wild-ass guess is that a four-year deal
would have been perfect for his employer, and from that perspective five is
better than seven. Since the Giants’ farm system is pretty dry and the
team’s chances of contention were already overwhelmingly dependent on having
Bonds, I can accept Sabean’s decision to chain himself to the contract and
sink or swim with it.

–Chris Kahrl


Now that the A’s have acquired Carlos Pena,
does it still make sense to go
after Jack Cust? Cust’s power and patience combination is, like Pena’s, exciting,
although he would likely be a career DH due to his poor fielding and Pena’s
presence at first base. If it does make sense to go after Cust, who do the
A’s have that Colorado would be interested in and the A’s can afford to
lose?

Also,
I recently read an article on LatinoBaseball.com
quoting Miguel Tejada as saying his agent and the A’s are in conversations
on a contract extension to ensure he will be with the A’s for the next 10 years,
with a potential value over $100 million. Do you think the next evolution in
the Beane approach is too start locking in select under-30 talent who are
willing to trade top market dollar for consistency and security?

–JS


Does it still make sense to go after Jack Cust? In a word, yes. If the
Rockies were serious about asking for Adam Piatt for Cust, I’d take Cust in
a heartbeat. However, now that the Rockies have acquired Todd Zeile, I
suspect that line of negotiations is off of the table.

Finally, I think Beane is already in the business of offering players
long-term security in exchange for a discount. Witness last year’s offer to
Jason Giambi, which was acceptable to everyone but the Athletics’ owners.
What is less clear is whether agents as a group understand the benefits
therein. Jody Reed’s fate was not apocryphal, any more than Juan Gonzalez’s.
Long-term security has value, because player careers are not guaranteed to
be nothing but relentless progress.

–Chris Kahrl


What need is there to slam Bill James in such venomous fashion
for writing "pass" about a single player in a book where he writes voluminous
comments on hundreds of players? As a fan of Jeff Bagwell, I wish James
would’ve expounded upon him. I didn’t feel particularly cheated of my $31.50
(the book is much cheaper on Amazon), however, that he didn’t take the time
to explain himself. Nor did I assume that "pass" was the extent of his
reasoning on ranking Bagwell where he did. There are ample things to
critique in any book of more than 1,000 pages. In particular I found a lot
of the arbitrary adjustments in the Win Shares method dubious. Maybe there’s
just some personal animosity here that the public isn’t aware of, in which
case it’s questionable why such dripping sarcasm should be published for the
unknowing world to see. I’ll be sure to scrutinize every player comment in
my Baseball Prospectus to make sure it’s worth my $15.36 (again,
Amazon).

–Jeffrey Burk


I wasn’t aware that I was being "venomous," and I harbor no personal
animosity against the best sabermetrically-inclined writer on the face of
the planet. However, I could just as easily refer you to the equally
engrossing Don Mattingly comment, or the comments that are nothing more than
newspaper or magazine quotations. I expected a little more Bill James in my
Bill James, that’s all, in the same that all of us who have been spoiled by
enjoying James from 15 or 20 years ago are exactly that, spoiled.

Certainly, commenting about 900 players can’t be easy, but considering that
Mr. James has had 15 years in which to write, and that this book was
already long overdue, as a reader, I guess I have to state that I’m a little
disappointed that this book didn’t rise to James’s previously established
lofty standards. If you perceive what I had to say as sarcastic, I guess I
didn’t explain myself well, because I’m not being sarcastic.

Lastly, not even the best sabermetrically-inclined writer on the planet gets
a free pass in my book, any more than I expect to get one, and nobody, no
matter how talented, should get away with a "dog ate my homework" excuse
like James’s explanation for why he gave pitchers short shrift in the book.

Reasonable men can agree to disagree, of course.

–Chris Kahrl

Questions? Comments? Contact us by
clicking here.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe