Monday, February 22, 2010

Jon Heyman: Red Sox Hype Machine

So apparently Jon Heyman has been infected by Dan Shaughnessy's presence at and has now been recruited to be the latest cheerleader for Fraud Sox Nation.  His piece on the Red Sox re-tooling this off-season was part comedy, part tragedy, and all bullshit.  The boys at Baseball Tonight had to be kicking themselves when they read this because they are going to be hardpressed to come up with something so blatantly one-sided whenever they get back into the daily ESPN programming schedule.  The full article can be found here if you're into fiction, but if you'd just like the highlights I've been gracious enough to pick out some of the especially nutty turds, deposit them below, and attempt shine them up with my own brand of truth cleanser.

"...they also know that to beat the Yankees, they simply needed more great players..."

Or good ones, for starters.  Specifically in the bullpen.

"...and along those lines they made sure to get ex-Angels ace John Lackey..."

A guy who couldn't beat the Yankees in either of his 2009 ALCS outings against them.

"The Red Sox still aren't going to beat the Yankees' star power..."


"...but in an offseason where the New York lost Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, and Boston added Lackey and made as many significant changes as any other team..."

I hope Heyman isn't referring to the Adrian Beltre/Mike Cameron/Marco Scutaro appetizer platter of overratedness and downward-trending offensive statistics as significant changes.  Now a 28-year-old centerfielder with potential 30/30 power and speed entering the prime of his career?  That's a significant change.  Of course the article is all about how great the Red Sox are now as a result of adding a bunch of aging veterans who can't hit, so mentioning that what the Yankees did was the exact opposite of Boston's strategy just wouldn't jive in the context of this story/literary blowjob of Theo Epstein.

And just for the record, Lackey was brought to Boston to be the 3rd starter.  The Yankees added a comparable pitcher to Lackey to be their 4th starter.  You tell me who made the more significant changes.

"Boston has indeed re-balanced things nicely. One big bat (Bay) is already gone and another one (the diminishing Mike Lowell, who will be in camp soon and working hard with the thought that he'll be dealt soon) is all but gone, and they have been replaced by longtime defensive whizzes Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre."

Oh, Heyman was referring to the Beltre/Cameron/Scutaro platter.  Glad we cleared that up.

And you're right, Jon.  Nothing says re-balancing like completely ignoring offense and replacing the offense you're losing with nothing but defense.  You even point out how 2 big bats are being subtracted and 2 gloves are being added to replace them.  That's not re-balancing so much as it's totally unbalancing the other side of the scale.

"GM Theo Epstein says. "Our goal was try to be above average in hitting, pitching and defense."

And what better way to do that than by bringing in a bunch of below-average hitters and give ourselves a lineup of 3 above-average hitters (Youk, Pedroia, Martinez), 2 average ones (Ellsbury and Drew, and that's being nice on those assessments), and 4 below-average ones (Beltre, Scutaro, Cameron, and The Juicer Formerly Known as Big Papi).

Just give Theo the Executive of The Year Award now.

"...Lackey, a Texas tough kid who was made for Boston."

How exactly does being from Texas make Lackey made for Boston?  I mean, sure the fact that he's a fat, goofy-looking white guy who is a borderline asshole works.  And the blatant racism should transition over seemlessly.  But ask Lackey how he likes pitching in the cold?  His Game 1 ALCS performance last year should tell you everything you need to know about how "perfect" for Boston he is.  He couldn't get his curveball anywhere near the plate on that chilly October night, and the last time I checked the weather ain't going to be much different than it was that night in early April and October in Boston, so... yeah.

"How good a competitor is Lackey? When equally tough Angels manager Mike Scioscia came to remove him from Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, Lackey could be seen mouthing the words, "This is mine" in protest, even though the call had already been made."

And even though he had put himself into the position to be taken out by whining like a 6-year-old girl at a questionable Ball 4 call against the batter he was facing and then losing his composure and walking the next batter on 4 straight pitches in a situation that could have meant the game and the series for his team.

But you're right again, Jon.  Nothing says competitor like getting so flustered by an official's call that you can't perform the job you're supposed to do on the mound.  Let's nominate Lackey for the Jimmy V Award for the 2010 ESPYs.

"The Red Sox...understand they need impact players to beat the Yankees, so they spent time early assessing their chances at landing the very few available and thought-to-be-available stars at the beginning of winter."
And from here on, Heyman proceeds to justify the Red Sox decisions to not pursue 4 players they expressed interest in heading into the off-season (Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, and Roy Halladay) in the context of the "chances" the Sox supposedly thought they had in getting these players.  Basically these "chances" were based around Boston not wanting to pay more money and not wanting to give up prospects, the same 2 things that have prevented them from bringing in impact players before (see: Roy Halladay 2008 and Roy Halladay 2009), but are twisted by Heyman in a way to pass these decisions off as something smart that Boston did because it wasn't in tune with their new "re-balancing" effort.
The reality of it is actually much simpler.  Boston once again didn't have the stones to put their money, or their prospects, where their mouth is and truly compete with the Yankees.  So they moved on from the big fish in the pond and instead decided to fish in the shallows, bringing in a bunch of cheaper, older Band-Aid players to see if they could win with defense since they already knew they couldn't do it with offense. 
It's a genius move in that it gives them a built-in excuse to use come July when they're behind by 9 games to the Yanks, something like "Wah, wah, wah!!!!  The Yankees spend so much money on hitters and our scrappy little club can't compete with them.  Wah, wah, wah!!!!"  But beyond that, there is nothing to any of these signings by Boston that are smart or calculating, no matter how much Jon Heyman tries to convince you otherwise.
Nice try though, Jon.  Seriously, The CHB and Tim Kurkjian would be proud.

Yankees Add Chan Ho Park To The Mix

The big Yankee news of the day is the all-but-done signing of Chan Ho Park to a one-year, $1.2 million deal with an extra 300k for incentives. This move by Cash, in addition to creating a logjam in what was already going to be a crowded bullpen competition, puts the Yankees over their self-imposed payroll budget for 2010. While I can't say I approve of the Yanks brass reneging on their commitment to a hardline on the budget this soon in the season, I can say with confidence that if you're going to go back on your word and break the bank for more pitching, what better guy to do it for than Chan Ho Park.

I mean, just look at those numbers from last year: 4.43 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 83.1 innings pitched, less than a strikeout per inning. If those numbers don't scream "WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS GUY ON OUR TEAM!!!!", then I don't know what does. Not to mention the guys' past track record of success with all his former teams and the heaps of awards and accolades he has accumulated in his decorated career. At this point, the Bombers can pretty much call the Joba-Hughes battle off, because with Chan Ho Motherfucking Park about to join the team, the 5th spot in the rotation AND the setup role out of the bullpen is locked down like Fort Knox.

In all seriousness, I don't think this is a bad move by the Yankees; Park's numbers were much better out of the bullpen with the Phillies last year: 2.52 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 52 K's in 50.0 IP, .231 BA against, and a bunch of other meaningful stats that other blogs can come up with faster than I can. And his stuff was also much better: consistently throwing 95-96 with the fastball, better command and movement on his off-speed stuff. In following with Cash's theory of "you can never have enough" relievers, this looks like a good move.

But there are also some points to consider that make this a potentially bad, and even unnecessary move by the Yanks. For starters, Park has no track record of success to speak of up until last year, when his transition to the 'pen only took place as a result of him being incredibly awful as a starter. His short sample size of success did come in a weaker league playing primarily in an offensively-challenged division (not too much to be scared about in the 2009 Braves, Mets, and Nationals rosters), which raises the concern that the Yankees fell in love with him because of his sterling 3.1 innings of shutout ball he pitched against them in the World Series (a path they have been down before with little success). How well Park would be able to re-create that success in the AL East is a big question mark. Also, Park's arrival means that somebody currently on the roster has to be the odd man out.

The bullpen positions that are set as of today are Mo, either Joba or Hughes, Marte, Robertson, and Aceves, with the last 2 spots likely coming from the group of Gaudin/Logan/Mitre/Melancon/Albaladejo. With the deal he signed it seems highly unlikely that Park is going to play in Scranton, so you pencil him into the 6th spot in the 'pen and now the fight between those other 5 is down to one. The early leaders would have to be Gaudin, Logan, and Melancon, but with his high salary and management's desire to stay at or under their budget, Gaudin seems the most likely to not only lose his spot in the 'pen, but to be packing his bags and cleaning out his locker to make room for Park.

Personally, I think Gaudin has more value than Park as he has shown the ability to be effective in both a reliever and starting role, something that will be important this year if the Yankees have to get creative at the back end of their rotation either due to Hughes' innings limitations, Joba's ineffectiveness, or (knock on wood) due to injuries. I also would have liked to see Melancon get another shot this year since the team has spent the better part of the last 3 years grooming him to be an impact reliever. Give him a chance to correct the control issues he had in his cup of coffee last season and he could become a lights-out, high-strikeout, late-inning stopper similar to 2007 Joba or 2009 Dave Robertson.

The feeling across the Yankee blogosphere is that this is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Yankees and helps bolster their bullpen depth for the upcoming season. At the end of the day, you can't argue with the logic of adding a proven bullpen commodity to the mix and on paper, that's what the Yankees have done. While I agree with that assessment, I hope it doesn't come at the expense of moving Gaudin and his $2.95 million salary because that could severely hurt the Yankees' starting pitching depth if issues in the rotation arise.